Our nation’s lakes and rivers are iconic – and in danger. Nearly half of our lakes are too polluted to fish in, and about 40 percent of our rivers are so polluted that they are unsafe for swimming and aquatic life.
If you’re an angler, those numbers are terrifying! We want more places to fish and more fish in those places – not less!
This is a huge problem, but you don’t have to make major changes in your life to make a big difference. Here are five simple things you can do to help keep our rivers and lakes cleaner.
Fix your car’s leaks
After a storm, you’ll see parking lots sparkle with oil-slick rainbows that look quite pretty. You’d never know they are so dangerous to the environment. Rain washes your car’s deposits off the road, parking lots and driveways, and eventually, they make it into our waterways. Simple fixes like repairing leaks in your car can go a long way toward keeping toxic car fluids out of the lakes you love.
Embrace organic landscaping
Every pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer that’s not absorbed by your plants ends up in the water system, which can poison fish and the things they feed on. Try organic fertilizers and good old fashioned elbow grease for weed control. A little extra exercise with your garden duties never hurt anybody!
Don’t flush medicines
Flushing out-of-date pills down the toilet certainly keeps them out of the wrong hands, but unfortunately, research has found that more and more medications are showing up in drinking water, lakes and waterways.
The biggest polluters are large farms and factories. So consider where your money is spent. Buying organic produce (especially when it’s local) means your money supports farms that don’t add chemical pesticides and fertilizers to our waterways.
Leave no trace
Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a collection of floating ocean trash between Hawaii and California, and it’s twice the size of Texas. You can do your part to keep trash out of our waterways by making sure you throw all waste into proper trash cans, and if you’re out and see litter on the ground, pick it up! Every crushed water bottle that makes it into the recycling bin rather than the ocean is a win!