This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
February 18th, 2007

Old Water

A couple of things left over from last week. You may recall I wrote about the problems with bottled water. I appreciate the email from the folks who hadn't been aware of the depth of the problem. We all have a lot of learn, I'm no expert on the subject of water but I remember a conversation we had a couple of years ago with our local Public Utilities District. This was in relation to a hearing on approving a large home development, and would there be adequate water to service it.

Our local water comes from deep wells. That itself is a puzzlement to me living as we do on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Technically we live on Hood Canal, but that is part of the Pacific Ocean. Anyway, it would seem we have a lot of salt water as far as you can see. But to my knowledge soaking into the ground doesn't filter the salt out, so the fresh water we use would seem to come from the underground aquifer. Now the question which concerns me is the age of the water.

Seriously, there are ways to determine the age of the water we draw from underground. I don't recall the method, and if you do, please put a post on our bulletin board as it would be a nifty thing for us all to know and understand. Okay, so if you'll take for granted you can 'age' the water, it would give us some understanding as to how long the rain, snow, and ice take to get to the aquifer, or to be part of the underground spring system.

It also is interesting if you realize that the rain and other normal waters soak into the ground. As we pave over more and more land to make parking lots for Home Depots we have less land for the water to soak into.

One of the things which should be important to us as anglers is the health and well being of our local watersheds. That being how local run-off is handled naturally or artificially managed. Which of course directly affects the health and reproduction of our native fishes.

I remember how upset the late Al Campbell was the couple of years just before his death. The Black Hills suffered from a terrible drought, and some of the streams were so severely dewatered the fish were killed. Nothing remained. There was a possibility the insect life might be able to reestablish itself, but until there was sufficient water there was no point in even trying. Trout could be eventually restocked - but as of today they haven't been. Some of the drought might have been prevented through better forest and fire management, but hindsight is always 20–20.

I can't help but suspect we take out water supply very much for granted. Be it natural or managed, we must please be much more aware.

If I were to tell you the average age of the water we are drinking here was over 100 years ago, would that concern you? Would that mean it takes a hundred years for the ground water to seep/filter its way down to the aquifer? And as the population grows there will be less ground for the water to seep into? And more demand for it?

We may be too late already. But do yourself a favor, be observant. Watch your water supply like a hawk. Make sure you know where yours comes from and who is in charge. ~ The LadyFisher

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