Tyler Allen-Shively: Take care of our watersheds
Help! Our local watersheds need help! The ocean needs help! Animals need help! We need help! All life depends on water.
I remember walking down the side of the river one day and thinking, “Wow, this is beautiful,” and then when I walked further down, I saw litter everywhere, hidden behind plants and in the water. Wait, just a moment ago, I was thinking how pretty it looked, but now I was appalled at how much trash there was. Keeping our watersheds this way is not good. We need to protect our water instead of throwing it away like the trash we send to the landfill.
Water is not being taken care of because while we all know water is crucial for life, we trash it anyway. Some 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is dumped — largely untreated — back into the environment, polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Not only is this bad for our environment, but this is bad for us and all the living things as well (NOAA).
One thing I mentioned before is how things need water to drink, like animals to live. The vast majority of California’s drinking and irrigated agricultural water — as well as 85% of freshwater to San Francisco Bay — comes from the watersheds that feed the Shasta/Trinity and Oroville reservoirs (Healthy Watersheds California). Our drinking water is being misused and mistreated, and it needs to be changed. To protect our own health, we must protect the health of the water.
How does trash affect our watersheds, you ask? Well, when trash gets in the water, it goes to the watershed and not only dirties our drinking water but clogs it. Then the shed creates floods. There are many things wrong with this. We can lose our essential memories and living animals because of either the water being contaminated or the flood.
The way we can fix this is to dispose of trash properly and conserve water every day. Take shorter showers, fix leaks and turn off the water when not in use. Do not pour toxic household chemicals down the drain; take them to a hazardous waste center. Use hardy plants that require little or no watering, fertilizers, or pesticides in your yard.
Also, littering in the rivers is also not OK! Instead, we should add more trash cans on the banks of rivers and on trails to reduce the amount of litter. Where do you think all this trash goes? It does not go out of existence because all it will do is come back at us with a whole army. Pack out your trash (and others) from natural spaces, and participate in local river cleanups (Kling).
Something that is already being done that everyone can help with is river cleanups. In 2019, at least 900 people showed up from the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) to clean up the Yuba River. They fished out around 18,000 pounds of litter and trash from at least 82 miles of rivers, creeks, and lakes.
Volunteers also assisted Nevada County by posting “No Swimming” advisory signs as a response to a yellow-colored plume of water that appeared along the South Yuba River the previous day (YubaNet.com).
This shows us that we need to keep cleaning the river because if they found 18,000 pounds of trash in the river, then there is probably a lot more there. This is going to be a lot of work, but if everyone puts in a decent amount of work then we can get it done.
The reason I care is because I live here and I want a future. I want this world to also have a future.
This sustainability of this world requires our care, and the animals cannot talk, so I will speak for them: Stop being fixed into this one mindset and fix this world.
Tyler Allen-Shively is a high school student at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning in Nevada City. He lives in Grass Valley.
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