OUR VIEW: Clean rivers are important

Posted

Rivers are a vital part of our communities and clean water is vital to life.

Our history, our natural surroundings and our economy revolve around the rivers. They are part of what makes our area unique.

They provide sporting opportunities like

kayaking, canoeing and fishing, or just a place to sit and calmly reflect to the sound of rippling water. As locals, we need only drive a short distance to find one, while tourists will drive hundreds of miles to enjoy what we have in our own backyard. Each year locals and tourists alike plan weekends around them, bonding with friends and family and creating memories on the rivers.

Trashing our rivers means ripping the opportunities for times like these from future generations.

Rivers also generate commerce and spur economic growth by bringing much-needed tourism dollars to our communities. This money doesn’t just go to the local bait shop or the canoe livery. It means money for the local hotels, campgrounds and bed and breakfasts where tourists stay, the restaurants where they eat and the other stores they stop at.

Trashing our rivers is trashing a part of our community’s economy. If a river is contaminated or has trash everywhere, it deters tourists. The economic boost stores in our region rely on will decrease or vanish all together.

You can help!

One great way to give back and support your community is by grabbing some gloves and a few trash bags and hitting the banks of your nearby river. It doesn’t have to be an all-day event. A mere hour’s time from each of our thousands of residents would ensure our rivers are clean and free of debris, inviting to our guests and the wildlife that call them home.

However, keeping rivers clean starts on a smaller, more individualized level. While people cleaning up their local rivers periodically would be ideal, it can be difficult to find the time. We have jobs, families and other day-to-day worries, which can make it difficult to give back.

If you are already stretched thin, you can still help out. The best thing you can do is to wait until you get to a trash can to toss something out. It may seem easier to throw it, but it really isn’t a big deal to hang on to it until you find a nearby garbage can. It’s a small difference, but if more people did that it could do a world of good.

It’s also good to keep an ear open. Attend local government meetings. Be informed about dangers to your natural resources, including the rivers. If you can’t attend your local meetings, check government websites for meeting minutes or call the entity.

If you see a person or business contaminating the river on a regular basis, call the Department of Environmental Quality. It may feel like you’re being a tattletale, but it’s better to be safe than to have a resource damaged beyond repair. To report water contamination to the DEQ, call 800-292-4706.

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