Our Water Ways

Tina Hendon, Indian Trail Master Naturalist

Water, a simple compound containing only three atoms, makes up over 70% of the world’s surface and about 60% of our bodies. In the environment, water takes the form of solid, liquid, or vapor in its path through the hydrologic cycle. At any given time, only about 0.8% of water on Earth is available as a fresh liquid located in rivers, lakes, or below ground.

As we’ve seen in recent history, climate and weather patterns can change the distribution and accessibility. Most recently, drought conditions have put water issues at the front and center of our awareness.

In addition to natural threats such as drought, a growing population puts pressure on water supplies across the state. According to the 2012 State Water Plan, the population in Texas is expected to grow from 25.4 million to 46.3 million people by 2060. During this same period, the combined population of Ellis and Navarro counties is projected to increase over 150%, with an increase in water needs of over 160%. Current water supplies are not sufficient to keep pace with the estimated demands.

The quality of our water is also under pressure. Water flowing from municipal and industrial facilities and storm water runoff from the landscape carry pollutants to our streams and lakes. Disturbances of property, filling of rivers and lakes with sediment, and a lack of rainfall can harm our drinking water supplies and the wildlife that depend on these waterways.

Water management is a complex concern, but awareness of how water affects our daily lives can help everyone take part in protecting this precious resource. Here are a few simple things you can do:

INCREASE AWARENESS. Studies have shown that behavioral changes often result from increased awareness of a situation. By becoming more aware of the role water plays in your life, the more likely you will play a part in protecting our water resources. Do you know how many gallons of water your household uses every day? Did you know that storm drains transport water directly to the closest creek and not to a treatment plant? Do you know how many drainage ditches or creeks you cross on the way to work or the grocery store?

CHANGE BEHAVIOR. Small changes can add up to big differences and big savings. Did you know that letting your faucet run for five minutes while shaving or brushing your teeth uses up to eight gallons of water a day? Did you know that washing grease down your sink can decrease the life of your septic system and release harmful bacteria to nearby creeks? Did you know that fertilizing your yard just before it rains can kill fish miles downstream?

GET INVOLVED. Volunteer organizations whose missions include the protection of water and the environment are popping up everywhere. Visit local Earth Day or similar events to find local opportunities that fit your interests and schedule. Texas AgriLife Extension provides free online and face-to-face educational programs on water conservation, water quality, and water management and irrigation. Agencies such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Nature Trackers sponsor local groups to bolster education and outreach efforts, and to collect data for statewide conservation and research programs.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Indian Trail Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists, check out our website (https://txmn.org/indiantrail/) or contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office at 972-825-5175, or information@itmnc.com.

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