Happy Earth Day!

Today marks the 50th celebration of Earth Day, a day to appreciate our natural resources and focus on protecting them for ourselves and future generations. Since 1970 the environmental movement has made significant progress on several fronts. Regulations like the Clean Water, Safe Drinking Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed. Federal, state and local environmental protection agencies were formed. Toxic substances like leaded gas and DDT were banned. Millions of tons of contaminated soil and water have been remediated. The world came together phasing out the use of CFCs to allow the ozone layer to recover.


Current threats 

While there are many examples of environmental improvements and increased protection, work remains. At the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, we focus on protecting water quality and water quantity in our 5000-acre watershed; from the headwaters at Catawba Falls to the confluence at Congaree National Park.

The largest threat to our water is, perhaps unsurprisingly, us. There are a lot of people living in the watershed and that population is rapidly growing. Each of us consumes water and produces pollution. As the area develops so do our challenges.

Improvements in education, awareness, and infrastructure mean that most of us are not dumping trash and sewage directly into the water. Instead, small amounts of trash, brake dust, and automotive fluids sit on every parking lot. Our network of stormwater and wastewater pipes grows and ages. Forests are cleared for housing developments and industrial agriculture. When it rains, pollutants from all theses sources are mobilized and washed into our rivers, lakes, and streams. At the same time, we are concentrating the problem by withdrawing more water than ever to drink and produce electricity.


What can you do to help? 

Because the problem is distributed, so is the solution. Our individual choices can help protect the Catawba. Here are a few ways to celebrate Earth Day with clean water in mind.