Before You Lose The Freedom Of Choice

rain-1 Registered & ProtectedWhat part of the goat do you get the cheese out of?
Do you have to take the goat apart to get the cheese out?

These are the words out of the mouths of babes. Who will lead them? For awhile, we were treating the polluted water issue with caution thrown to the wind. I attended a party once where you were required to take off your shoes. Everyone put their shoes in a big pile in the middle of the floor. The pile of shoes was jumbled making each pair mismatched. Somebody blew a whistle and we all collided in a frenzy trying to find the ones that belonged to us.


I think most of us ended up with concussions and bloody open wounds. Now there were better ways to find our shoes and unclutter the mess. It wouldn’t have been as much fun.

That is the way we use to treat our polluted waters. It was no fun to clean them up so we just endangered our lives and that of others while we tried to sort it all out.

We threw caution to wind and increased our concrete coverage. No need for silt fences during construction cause little critters down stream would have to adapt to less oxygen in the water. There were too many of them anyway and the rest of the animals up the chain were getting too fat. Reducing their population was almost necessary. We thought.


No need to preserve and protect. You may think this mildly esoteric and kooky but there are some people who have a more organized shoe finding method and are pairing up things quite nicely. The results are adding enormous value to our economy here in NC. There is an emergent awareness of the resident fauna and flora and it is thriving again.

The pelicans in NC are a great success story. At one time, there were less than 5,000 pair. Their habitat has seen less human disturbance and the numbers have doubled. The  healthy water systems have helped to maintain balance upstream. When we incorporate measures to clean our water before it dumps in to local streams, we improve the habitat down stream. The critter population from beginning to end benefits.


NC grew too quickly that caused run off from construction sites to deposit silt down stream. This suffocated our crayfish and all the animals who fed on them decreased in numbers due to a lack of food. NC State University is studying techniques that builders can use to filter the water before it reaches our ground water sources.

The university is testing coconut and jute fiber products that collect the silt before it leaves the building site. A holding pond is constructed and the run off will filter through those fibers greatly reducing the silt saturation level. In a normal run off basin, 40% of the silt settlement will overflow or leach in to the underground water systems or stream beds. With this jute and coconut system, 90% of the settlement is filtered out. The solid is scooped out and reused on site. It cost less to clean the water before than after. It is an increased cost to the developer which will be passed on the consumer.


You will have to decide if it is worth it and North Carolina has decided that Yes!, it is worth it.  When we keep our waters clean, there is an increase in people wanting to visit our state. Those tourist dollars who like to see the crayfish in the streams and watch the birds fly overhead scouting them out will bring financial stability to our state. This increases jobs and adds more wealth to our local economy.

The Conservation Enhancement Program Land Trust Fund pays farmers to establish buffers so run off in creeks don’t put the crayfish out of their home. Farmers in NC are paid to leave a wide unfarmed area away from any stream, lake, or body of water. Less pesticides and oxygen starving silt enter through waters because there is time and space for it to be leached out before entering the waterways.

The Cape Fear river has seen a decline in their shrimping industry due to run off pollution. The Cape Fear water is at the end of many creeks and rivers. Many waters from NC eventually flow to the Cape Fear.  This is not a direct pollution problem but is an upstream condition. It is hoped that with the new standards in place there will be an increase in shrimp populations.  This area has completely lost their brown shrimp fishing populations. This lack of supply drives up cost. You either pay now or pay later. Most of us would rather pay at the source so we can save more later.

One way in which our state is trying to overcome the problem is to attack it at the source. Roots of trees that grow on the side of stream beds are the first screen in filtering out silt that chokes the water critters. Stopping the farmers from taking those trees and shrubs down, stops a good deal of the silted run off. Nets are also being used where applicable.

The little tiny fresh water muscle is seeing a come-back due to these efforts to clean the water. Muscles are bivalve animals and filter large amounts of the naturally occurring silt saturation.

If you decrease the numbers of muscles with too much silt, then you also decrease the fish numbers who dine on them. These little muscles are vital to ecosystems. Fish eat algae and birds eat fish. The  fresh water muscles clean the streams and act as little siphons and help us all.

Muscles can’t do it alone. Freshwater and waste-water  treatment plants use chemicals like ammonia and chloride to help clean the waters to make them safe for drinking. This is an added  expense to us but worth the cost. Most people do not realize that a treatment plant must be manned 24hrs a day. Without it, you would be sick and so would our waters.  Waste-water treatment plants filter our water and put it back in to the rivers to be used again.

Water is finite with 3 percent being fresh.  2/3  is locked up in the north and south poles. Waters for the whole world run in aquifers under ground and transmit it all over the world. What you do in one country could very easily affect someone else in another.

The aquifers are little underground tunnels made from layers of clay and other Geo substances. These layers are the protection between us and our water source. People tap in to these aquafers by drilling wells for irrigation systems and other such water requirements. Those up stream from the aquafer suffer- geology dictates where our water comes from and remember it’s a finite source. We could change its chemical make-up leaving it unusable for human,animal, and plant consumption.


Use it efficiently. NC  industries and agriculture are actively setting goals to use less water. The animals and microbial life need us to maintain these water levels and quality.  NC cares and is taking an active role. I am proud to live here.

The question of how to have cleaner water and air was asked by North Carolina. Instead of looking at the problem through the consequences, we choose to look at it through the solution.  Before you lose the the freedom to choose clean drinking water, won’t you be careful. It does matter.

Pictures: From my garden on December 10, 2008

Sources: A combination of material from NC State University, UNC-ED television, and experiences taken with me on my journey through–My North Carolina.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Cindy says:

    Such an important post, Anna. I always learn something when I come to your site and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. I do love seeing the Pelicans when I come to visit your NC beaches.
    Thank you so much! Now how can you have a visit to our beaches and not see pelicans? It just wouldn’t be coastal NC without them.


  2. Philip says:

    I love the pictures that accompany the text…the droplets of water on those beautiful plants.
    Such an important post you have brought up…water is essential to all life. I think that it great that people are keeping the trees on the riverbanks and creeks.
    And it is snowing on your blog!
    What fun!
    Best regards,
    Philip, you bring joy with you every where you go. Yes, it’s snowing. It’s probably the only snow we’ll see in these parts of NC. It’s been warm and my AC has been running for two days. ERRRRR. It use to snow here. I may be sorry I say this come March. Thank you for your kind words. I am glad to see us cleaning up the waters too.


  3. Anna, you’ve outdone yourself with this post! The amount of information is incredible, and your points are well taken. It’s so important to find ways to conserve our natural resources. My mother lives in NC…and my brother in law is an alumnus of NC State…so your article was close to home because they all love it in NC. Every time I visit them I, too, have always seen such beauty in the state. So I’m glad NC is being pro-active in this very important matter;)) Have a great day!! Jan/ThanksFor2Day
    Thank you! I guess I’m a forever NCer! It is fun to hear that your family lives here. My son is a grad of NC State so go Wolfpack. Have you seen your brother in law do the little wolfpack wolfie symbol? We have so many good universities and they are all studying ways to help our economy, environment, and health. I praise their efforts.


  4. Wanita says:

    A very informative post, Anna. I’m always glad when I hear there are people working to protect valuable resources like water.

    Isn’t it amazing how God created the world and all the creatures that are in it! So many intricate details and so beautiful.

    Yes it is truly a gift that we can choose to destroy or be good keepers. As you know, I’m a conservative Christian. Most of the time we aren’t affiliated with being environmentally concerned. So I’m kind of an odd mix of things because I’ve been involved with nature studies and gotten educated on the subject. If someone isn’t concerned about the air quality and water quality then they should visit a country who has no laws. My brother left a country recently because he could not breathe the air or drink the water. He was deathly ill the entire time he lived there. He gave up a lot of money to relocate back to our country where it cost a fortune to have all these laws. So very worth it all!


  5. Marnie says:

    Excellent post.

    I’ve heard experts foretell the next world war will be fought over water. And yet industry and many individuals pollute and waste that precious resource. Inconvenient.
    It is illegal in the state of NC to litter even a cigarette butt. Don’t throw anything out the window driving through our state cause any citizen can report you. I haven’t looked in to every state but I wonder who has the most strict laws on littering and storm water? When I was doing the article on leaky lawnmowers are lethal…..I called one of our northern states and ask what their underground water protections were. They told me they had never heard of such a thing. We live down river from them and it is so obvious they don’t have any laws. We get all their junk. It works the same way for air quality. Our town has almost no industry but the larger town south of us does. Their air drifts to our town and we suffer not them. I want to take a big fan and push it back their way. So that is why rules are state wide and not local.


  6. Well stated information about the impact we’ve seen on our Pelicans, crayfish and shrimp.

    I like the idea of coir for filtering the construction concrete. I wish the developers wouldn’t be so greedy as to pack too many houses into an area to make money, but strain all of our resources.

    We have a protected buffer of trees around our streams in our subdivision (rural acreage lots), but we’ve been an exception. In other subdivisions there are 16 or more houses sitting on the amount of land (4.5 acres) of our 1 house.

    Great story — submit it to Our State Magazine.

    Cameron, you are so encouraging. I will see if Our State is interested and thank you. NC would like to see all neighborhoods with buffer zones and if not, they have to build expensive storm run-off holding ponds. The rules are getting tougher on the builders which means houses are going to get more expensive. Builders shouldn’t be punished but they are the only ones that can make it happen. If left to the homeowner….they would never do any storm water protecton efforts. People choose to only care about what is happening in their own back yard and take a blind eye to how it affects those down stream.


  7. Sylvia (England) says:

    Anna, I really like your photos from your garden, it looks like it was a wet day. Our rivers and streams have really improved over the last 10 years or so and we are seeing a real improvement in the wild life.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)
    They sure are Sylvia and I’m proud of just about everyone for helpiing. Our generation is old enough to see the damage being done under the destruction. We’ve seen our shrimp industry become a fraction of what it use to be. There is promise!


  8. deb says:

    Anna, Fantastic post. Our family is actually supported by the water industry. Manly Man is a waster water treatment plant supervisor. We simply cannot live without clean water.
    One of my sons is an engineer and he builds waste-water treatment plants. They are mostly doing expansions at the moment. I’ve visted the site and it is rewarding to see poo enter and clean water come out. Your husband is doing a great service to our natural waters. As you know, people use to dump raw sewage in to the streets. Really gross when you think about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.