Streams have been wasted

Gulf Dead ZoneRoughly 7,000 square miles off Louisiana is dead – not enough oxygen to sustain fish or fauna.

Except oxygen-devouring algae.

There are more than 450 dead zones around the world.

An increase in macroalgae or phytoplankton is usually the first ‘visible’ sign that a system is dying.

Shutting down fisheries soon follows, but of all things, reviving our streams can prevent dead oceans.

Reviving streams to prevent dead oceansAmerica is blessed with many, many streams, but we need to pay attention. In too many cases, our streams have become ditches and canals that we use merely to drain urban runoff or channel irrigation.

We’ve forgotten that a stream is also what lives nearby – trees, brush, grasses and abundant life in the soil. These capture fertilizers and phosphorous from soaps and urban chemicals and process pollutants before it travels to lakes, rivers and coastlines.

“Protecting drinking water and preventing harmful coastal “dead zones”, as well as eutrophication in many lakes, will require reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus as well as toxic pollution.

“Because streams and rivers are conduits to the sea, management strategies should be implemented along the land-to-ocean continuum. In most cases, strategies that focus only on one pollutant will fail.

“By focusing only on minimizing phosphorus in our fresh waters, and ignoring nitrogen inputs, existing management strategies are exacerbating the decline of coastal ecosystems.”

Instead of millions of raw channels and pipes forcing dirty water into lakes and oceans, our streams must become living corridors in order to capture and reduce pollutants before they reach the sea.

Fix-A-Ditch might be another jobs engine we need. Our localities and farmlands have ignored streams for too many decades and it’s time for a national repair. There’s much research and support for healthy stream corridor.

We may not eat well unless we stop passing the problem downstream…

Streams have been wasted