Water Pollution

Our rivers, lakes, and beaches are beautiful, but are they safe? Every day, the toxic runoff from parking lots, busy roads and quiet subdivisions makes its way into our streams and oceans. Even the oil burning off from cars on the roads gets washed into the groundwater and streams by way of the storm drain every time it rains.

The more houses we build, the more pollution we will add to our environment. Every time we lay down a new parking lot or piece of roadway, there is an impact on our environment.

Planning growth and designing communities are part of the local government's job. If you are curious about what changes are about to happen where you live, start reading the local paper and make a scrapbook of development stories. If something concerns you, you can contact your officials to let them know how you feel. At home, there are things you and your family can do to cut back on water pollution in your neighborhood:

  • Don't litter. Trash that is thrown in the streets usually winds up down storm drains.
  • Watch those sprinklers. Place water sprinklers so they water the grass or flowers and not the street or sidewalk. Also, don't water on windy days or in the hottest part of the day so more water will be absorbed by plants and less will be wasted.
  • About fertilizers: they are good for the garden, but too much of a good thing can hurt the environment by causing algae bloom. Check with a garden store to find out how much fertilizer your soil needs and consider using organic fertilizers.
  • Compost your grass clippings to make natural fertilizer or leave it on the lawn as a source of nutrients.

Learn more about how to conserve our water in the library and online.

In the Library

Acid Rain by Louise Petheram.
Read how air pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants leads to the formation of strong acids which can harm lakes, fish, trees, and even historic buildings.

Nobody Particular: One Woman's Fight to Save the Bays by Molly Bang.
Diane Wilson worked a shrimp boat off the coast of Texas and led the fight to stop yet another plastics plant coming in to pollute the bay with more industrial runoff.

Our Endangered Planet. Oceans. by Mary Hoff and Mary M. Rodgers.
Describes concisely the global uses and abuses of the world's oceans and seas.

Rivers, Ponds, and Lakes by Anita Ganeri.
Tells how modern life is affecting ponds, rivers, and lakes globally and discusses possible ways of saving the endangered species in these waterways.

Water: Our Precious Resource by Roy A. Gallant.
An in-depth look at Earth's waters and mankind's uses of water throughout history which includes ideas about planning better use of this critical resource in the future.

On the Web

Backyard Conservation
The National Association of Conservation Districts works to preserve clean water and soil throughout the country. From this page you can request a 28-page full-color booklet, Backyard Conservation, that will teach you more about how to care for the environment. This page also links to lesson plans for teachers.

EPA KidsPage: Water Runoff
Lots to do here for students of all grade levels: a slide show of water insects changing shapes through their lives, a "what's-wrong-with-this-picture" activity, articles and activities for middle school students, as well as the Splash! game about water quality and the environment.

Clean Water Program: Just for Kids
Learn about all the ways that our creeks and beaches get polluted. From the City of Oceanside, California.

Friends of the Rappahannock
Our Rappahannock River needs all the help it can get. The Friends sponsor activities such as river clean-ups and scenic trips, both by foot and by canoe. Click Events to find out what's going on.

SeaWIFS Project: The Wild Blue Wonder
Learn how the color of the ocean tells scientists how healthy it is. From NASA.

Surf Your Watershed
"Watersheds are those land areas that catch rain or snow and drain to specific marshes, streams, rivers, lakes, or to ground water."
Type in your zip code to get terrific information about what's being done to protect your region.

What's Flushing Into Chesapeake Bay?
Zoom in on a map of the Chesapeake that shows urban, agricultural, forested and wetland areas that affect the health of the Chesapeake Bay. From the National Geographic Society.

From the OneSearch database collection:

Families who have Central Rappahannock Regional Library cards can use online databases of magazine articles and reference books for more information. Here are a few of the many articles that may be found online:

"Chesapeake Bay." DISCovering Science. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center.

"Not a Drop to Drink." Kids Discover. April 2003, v13, i4, p.16(2). Available online through the Kid's Edition database.

"Water Pollution." AccessScience@McGraw-Hill.