The Importance of Protecting Our Water Sources

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Editorial by Gary Rose

Water is the prime element responsible for life on earth—two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water, and the human body consists of 75 percent water. Water is the world’s most precious resource, and it must be safe and clean for consumption.

August is National Water Quality Month, a month designated to emphasize how interlinked our water systems are, as well as the dangers of runoff from agriculture, forestry, construction and personal yards. Water pollution is both an environmental concern and a public health issue.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 40 percent of the nation’s waterways suffer water quality issues. The most common reasons waterways fail to meet the standards include high levels of pathogens, mercury, heavy metals, nutrients and sediment—many of these pollutants are the result of upstream activities and airborne contaminants.

SouthWest Water Company, an investor-owned utility, provides water and wastewater services to more than 500,000 customers in six states, and offers the following tips to prevent water pollution:

  • Do not use antibacterial soaps or cleaning products; use detergents that are phosphate-free—Antibacterial chemicals in soap can not be completely removed by wastewater treatment facilities
  • Do not flush unwanted medications down the toilet or drain— Flushing drugs down the toilet sends them directly into the water supply, harming the environment—most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment processes or septic systems
  • Do not put anything but water down storm drains—Water that flows into storm drains is not piped to a water treatment facility and cleaned before it is returned to streams and rivers
  • Fix leaks on cars and put liners in driveway to collect oil and other materials—These leaks and drips contribute to storm water pollution
  • Avoid using pesticides or chemical fertilizers—Pesticides and chemical fertilizers pose a threat to human health and pollute both ground and surface water
  • Choose nontoxic household products, when possible—Many cleaning products are harmful to aquatic life, water quality and the overall ecosystem
  • Pick up after pets—pet waste can run down the storm drains and spread bacteria
  • Sweep your driveway to keep it clean, rather than hosing it off— The polluted water flows down the street and into the storm drain
  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash—Cleaning your car at home flushes dangerous chemicals down the storm drain and directly into lakes and streams

 To ensure the safety and quality of your water, join in local waterway cleanups and make a conscious effort to minimize your personal impact on the environment and water systems.

In order to make sure you’re getting the best quality water, it’s important to educate yourself about what’s in your water. Get involved in water education and talk with your neighbors about how they can help, too.

Happy National Water Quality Month!

Gary Rose is the director of operations for SouthWest Water Company, Texas Utilities West.