Monday, August 10, 2015

How you live -- water footprint

The dots we want you to connect today are these:
  • The way we (you) use water makes a difference
  • Minnesota's water management problems aren't just isolated instances. The issues are systemic, from the cost of a major new water supply system in the southwest to the water quality problems caused by mining in the northeast
  • What happens on the land ends up in the water which affects our fishing, our swimming and boating and our vaunted "quality of life"
  • More of the same never solved a problem

Here's our bioregional quiz question for today. This is the last week's worth of questions for this quiz.

What is your current water footprint?


The link above is to one version of a water footprint calculator. The  totals are from answers  using my estimates. I suspect they might vary a little if someone else in the house provided them, but I doubt that would change the factor that our meat diet is the biggest contributor to our footprint or that we use about 10% to 15% less water than average. We have our own well for supply and septic system -- drainfield for disposal. We live above the midpoint of a tributary to the St. Croix River and our drainfield adds to the local groundwater flows about a mile from the tributary's surface flow.

There's a different way to look at a bioregion's water footprint -- at the cultural level. Minnesota's not doing very well at that scale. The land of 10,000 lakes is on an unfortunate countdown with fewer and fewer "fishable swimmable" lakes left. The Star Tribune has been documenting this sad story.

Minnesota's "impaired waters"

From runoff to ruin: The undoing of Minnesota's lakes

Land use did the damage; much of it can’t be undone.

"And yet, we Minnesotans are in deep denial about the critical condition of our lakes and the culpability we share. We are loving our lakes to death.

"Agriculture has drained or poisoned the prairie lakes and potholes of southern and southwestern Minnesota. Forget about them; they’re gone.

"A similar fate awaits the heart of lake country — the thousands of recreational lakes clustered around Brainerd, Detroit Lakes and Alexandria in central Minnesota. It’s not the crush of shoreline development by itself that’s killing them; it’s the reckless way in which development has been allowed to proceed."
Mille Lacs Lake with a "walleye chop"
Mille Lacs Lake with a "walleye chop"
Photo by J. Harrington

Mille Lacs "...is now home to three invasive species that, combined with other significant environmental shifts, are rapidly changing the dynamics of the lake below the surface."


Going for Water

Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

The well was dry beside the door,  
  And so we went with pail and can  
Across the fields behind the house  
  To seek the brook if still it ran;  
  
Not loth to have excuse to go,
  Because the autumn eve was fair  
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,  
  And by the brook our woods were there.  
  
We ran as if to meet the moon  
  That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves,  
  Without the birds, without the breeze.  
  
But once within the wood, we paused  
  Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,  
Ready to run to hiding new
  With laughter when she found us soon.  
  
Each laid on other a staying hand  
  To listen ere we dared to look,  
And in the hush we joined to make  
  We heard, we knew we heard the brook. 
  
A note as from a single place,  
  A slender tinkling fall that made  
Now drops that floated on the pool  
  Like pearls, and now a silver blade.


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