Billions of Acts of Blue Help Green

Imagine you are an astronaut flying in the space shuttle 500 kilometres above our home. Looking out at this spinning jewel, how would you describe what you see? With 70 percent of our planet covered with water, clearly we live on a blue planet, yet when we think of the environment this April, the colour of land dominates our mind.

Plants cover the land where we live. Coloured green by the pigment chlorophyll, critical for plant photosynthesis, plants perform constant magic. They capture energy from the sun, use water and nutrient from the soil and give back oxygen, food and natural resources. Their beauty covers every imaginable spectrum of green – chartreuse lichen, emerald moss, jade rock, lime leaves, olive branches and teal wings. But like humans, plants without water will not survive for long.

Land and water are closely linked and our activities on one impact the other. Water permeates and runs across coalmines and logging shows, drains into rivulets and creeks and eventually into the river. Fertilizing and spraying our lawns with pesticides ends up in the water. Rain pounding on the pavement washes away oil and antifreeze residue, down the storm sewer and eventually into the Elk River.

April awakens our senses to the water land connection. We see the power of solar strength as it melts and evaporates snow. Listen for the giggles of delight as little ones splash through puddles. Eaves troughs drip through the night as temperatures climb above freezing. Look for notices at the checkout when the City, as a result of turbidity with spring runoff, posts more water advisories. We hear melt water roar as creeks swell.

This month look at water in a broader context. How does my activity on land affect the water? Register your commitment to Earth Day 2011 at www.earthday.org and dedicate your acts of blue to help green. Here are a few blue act suggestions as individuals and living together in community:

Individual:
• Keep water clean - remember everything you do from lawn care to what you pour down the sink gets into the Elk River.
• Be water wise and use less water - install low flow fixtures from sinks to toilets, and modifying existing appliances.
• Be a water wizard outdoors - use the “we see we do” setting an example for your neighbours by being patient with snow melt, sweep your street and sidewalk, take your vehicle to the car wash, water your lawn in the evening or early morning, and install rain barrels.
Community:
• We all live downstream so hold water decision makers accountable to standards that protect water quality.
• Ditch bottled water in Fernie and use water fountains to refill water bottles or simply reach for a glass. Ban the sale of bottled water at City owned buildings like they have in Nelson since 2008.

Although nearly three-quarters of Earth is water, less than one percent is clean, drinkable, and available for all 6.8 billion humans to share. Without this life sustaining elixir in a few days life would cease. So many of us sharing such a precious resource, water needs a billion acts of blue this Earth month and every day to sustain water into the future.

To think more like a watershed considering our actions on land and impacts on our water, join the FLOW (friends living on water) Conversation hosted by the Elk River Alliance at 6:30-9:30 pm, March 30 in Fernie at Freshies 632-2nd Ave., April 6 in Sparwood at the Middletown Café, and April 13 in Elkford at the Aquatic Centre. A thought provoking evening will result in a 20/20 Water Vision Map for the Elk River. For more information see www.elkriveralliance.ca or call 250-423-4306.