During Cycle 2, the middle school students studied non-point source pollution. One of their assignments was to write and submit newsletter articles for the MSFW community regarding how we can reduce non-point source pollution in our lives. We’ve included three examples written by Lauren Hendericksen, Josie Ingram, and Kit Smith Hanna.
How Non-point Source Pollution Affects the Water in Our Neighbhorhoods
By: Lauren Hendricksen (7th grade)
Some types of non-point source pollution in our neighborhoods include: fertilizer, animal waste, leaves, etc. Non-point source pollution is when rainfall or snowmelt moves over the ground, carrying man-made pollutants with it. Since MSFW’s neighborhood is slightly hilly, water travels downhill, where there are storm drains located no more than half a mile away from each other. The storm drains lead to the Trinity River, which people use for fishing, boating and other recreational uses.
What happens when non-point source pollution is in our water basins? The pollutants cause high nitrate and phosphorus levels, which increase algal blooms. When there is too much plant life in the water, it gets too crowded for dissolved oxygen to be present. (Dissolved oxygen or D.O. is the amount of oxygen in the water used for the fish’s respiration.)
Some ways you can prevent non-point source pollution in your daily routine is by using organic fertilizer, bagging your leaves, picking up dog waste, not washing your car in your driveway, and not littering. By doing these simple things, you can help our community improve the amount of pollutants in the Trinity River.
Mindful of our Impact
By: Josie Ingram (7th grade)
Mindfulness. The vast majority of pollution can be fixed with mindfulness. During the course of our day we see tens to hundreds of pieces of trash. Anyone may overlook a piece of trash or just not notice it because we are so caught up in our hyper-speed 21st-century lives. For a second each day, a person could stop and pick up a piece.
If all this trash isn’t picked up, it will flow into a storm drain which will then end up in our beautiful, life giving Trinity River. Once the trash is in the river, it is difficult to take out and it may never decompose so, it will most likely be eaten by a fish. That fish will probably die.
All it takes is a second each day and, with a bit of mindfulness, we as a community could greatly reduce the amount of the harmful pollutant known as litter.
The Real Pollutant
By: Kit Smith Hanna (8th grade)
I want you to imagine something. It’s raining outside. You, like many, are sitting inside on this day, watching TV, reading, working, whatever you do on a rainy day. Outside of your house is a leaf pile. It is fall, after all. Let’s follow the journey of a single leaf in this pile.
The leaf is around the middle of the pile and is half decomposed already. The rain won’t wash it away, since it’s in the middle of a pile, but the wind could do it. Whoosh! Off it goes. It settles down on the street as the leaf pile it was once in is shredded by the wind, leaving a pile of partially and fully decomposed leaves, effectively dirt. The leaf then flows into a storm drain, and heads down to the river, where it decomposes into dirt, and, well, dirt flows into the water.
This is an example of non-point source pollution, which is the subtler kind, as it doesn’t come from a factory or a sewage pipe, but from harder to identify places, say, a pile of leaves, or a car’s engine that’s leaking gas. A very common occurrence with non-point source pollution is it builds up, be it litter, oil, or whatever, then when a rainstorm comes, it all washes down into the lake.
So, you might say, how can I stop non-point source pollution? And now, after reading that, you might think, oh great, it’s one of those articles that say, “Oh, you have to help the environment, or it’ll die.” Well, the first one I can answer, and as for the second, actually, the environment will do fine even if humans pollute the Earth. On the other hand, humans won’t do fine. So hear me out.
What can you do? It’s quite simple. Just rake up leaves, pick up dog poop, and make sure your car isn’t leaking. Oh, and never wash your car in your driveway. The soapy water goes down into the storm drains, then into the lake. Sound easy enough?
Whether it does or doesn’t, trust me when I say, it is.