Sunday, August 09, 2015

What is Happening to Our Drinking Water?

From our clothes to our food, farms and ranches, water fulfills one of our most basic requirements. Yet, agriculture is currently having an effect on another resource that you and I can't live without and that is WATER. According to studies done by the EPA, agriculture is the leading source of fresh water contamination in the United States. 

Why? Let's glance at what is happening in our drinking water.

When excess fertilizer washes into rivers and lakes, it can cause algal blooms that make drinking water taste and smell bad and, in some cases, cause health problems. With increased nitrate levels comes an increase in agricultural contaminants, such as bacteria, pesticides and sediment, none of which are healthy for people or nature.
It is noted that the city of Bloomington, Illinois, is one of many towns and small cities in rural America "flirting" with unhealthy levels of nitrate. Farming is essential to that region. 80 to 90 percent of the area is agricultural. With so much land being farmed, nitrate levels in the city's drinking water reservoirs are approaching and at times exceeding EPA standards.

Nearly a decade of extensive research by the Conservancy and their partners has shown that wetlands constructed in agricultural fields effectively filter and remove up to 50% of nitrates that would otherwise enter nearby streams and rivers and, ultimately, drinking water supplies.The Nature Conservancy  teamed up with university, government and other nonprofit partners in Illinois to deploy "constructed wetlands"  to help remove nitrates from agricultural drainage and ensure clean drinking water for the 70,000 people who rely on Lake Bloomington for their water.

Learn more about How to Clean Water:

By helping farmers and ranchers access new practices that reduce impacts on water sources, they have an incredible opportunity to better conserve the natural resources, while improving the health and livelihoods of the people who depend on them.

Though this work is local to Illinois, it has great potential to be replicated in other agricultural areas across the country and throughout the world.


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