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Three ways to recognize National Water Quality Month!

Water_quality_testWater. It’s everywhere. It makes up about 71 percent of the world’s surface. And of all the water in the world, approximately 97 percent of it is contained in our oceans, while the remaining three percent is found in fresh water, found in aquifers, lakes, rivers, springs and glaciers. There’s no doubt that water is crucial to life as we know it. But what happens when drinking water sources become corroded or contaminated? August is National Water Quality Month, and to recognize the significance of our favorite triatomic molecule, we’ve put together a list of three ways you can help to take care of our precious drinking water.

1. Do your research
It’s not just for school, we promise. Know where your water comes from! Depending on your location, you may choose to filter your water, which helps to eliminate excess chlorine, nitrates or other contaminants. Different areas in the United States have higher concentrations of these elements, depending on their proximity to agricultural land, the state of the pipes or the type of ground. You may be fortunate enough to live in a place with a fairly safe reservoir. Contact your local water utility to find out more information or visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality resource webpage to learn about your local watershed. If you live in an area with a higher risk of contamination, you may choose to write to your legislator about the quality of your water source.

2. Be a smart H20 consumer
What goes into the water goes into you. However, there are smart and simple ways to help improve water quality in your community. And since water quality is linked to water conservation, taking these simple steps is a win-win! When you over-water your lawn, the excess water flows into drains and rivers, concentrated with contaminants such as nitrates from fertilizers or pesticides that were on your lawn. The smarter, more environmentally-friendly way to use water? Wait for rain. Additionally, do your best to position rain gutters onto your lawn rather than pavement and use a rain barrel to conserve water.

3. Kick the chemicals
Properly getting rid of unwanted products like motor oil or household cleaners is just as important as separating glass from paper when you recycle. The more chemicals – such as those contained in fertilizer or weed killer – that are produced, the higher the concentration of these chemicals in freshwater sources. This is due to runoff from rainfall or the over-watering of lawns, which ends up in rivers, lakes and streams. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps to reducing that impact in local water sources. Instead of dumping cooking grease or oil down the drain, let is solidfy, then throw it out. Additionally, use environmentally-safe cleaning products, pick up after your pet and dispose of any unwanted pharmaceuticals, motor oil or toxic chemicals in the proper place – not down the drain.

Water quality monitoring at Loggerhead Marinelife Center
LMC is equipped with a state-of-the-art Wet Lab, which integrates innovative techniques and hands-on inquiry-based science for researchers, public users, teachers and students. Community members may check out water quality test kits from LMC to take samples of local South Florida water bodies and report the temperature, pH, salinity and other general water quality parameters into an online database. LMC is currently seeking interested members of the public to participate in this citizen science-powered Water Quality Lab, which aims to better monitor the quality of our local aquatic ecosystems. The water quality samples collected by citizen scientists and school teachers will allow LMC to create a comprehensive data set for future water quality studies. Members of the public who want to assist in our water quality sampling efforts are encouraged to contact Kerri Allen, LMC’s education manager, at kallen@marinelife.org.