Where Water Quality and Quantity Intersect

Guest Post by Steve Siegel

It is a hot summer day and you are off to your favorite swimming hole, joyfully anticipating your first leap into its crystal clear, refreshing water, followed by the magnificent shake of your body as you surface, spraying water in every direction. You can hardly wait, recklessly racing your dog to the water. You arrive to find a pool of brownish, greenish, stagnant water, barely knee deep. Skidding to a halt, you no longer want to even dip your toes into what you have found.

Theo after taking the plunge

Theo after taking the plunge

When imaging a swimming hole, we don’t just think of a pool of deep water and we don’t just imagine clear, clean water. We think of both. We think of both intuitively because we need both.

Now imagine you are a fish. Your very existence is in the clear, rushing water of a river. The depths of the water bring you cool comfort. Then the rains become less and people start removing some of your water. As the water levels drop, you feel the intensity of the sun as it heats your environment. Water temperature is part of water quality. The quantity of water helps keep it cool and flowing, and now the water is heating up. Too hot, and you may not survive. Without enough water, increasing water temperature is not the only drop in water quality. The risk of exposure to toxins increases as water quantity drops and water stagnates.

People are starting to dump things in your water. A small amount of a toxin and you might survive, especially when water flows are sufficient to carry the poisons away. But as water levels drop, flows slow, and you can’t easily escape the toxins. Even worse, the toxins become a higher and higher concentration of your water. Imagine dropping a cup of green dye in an Olympic size pool. You know it is there, but the overall impact is minimal. You don’t see a change in the water color. Drop the same cup of dye in a sink of water, and you will see a fundamental change in the water quality.

Whether we are dreaming of a refreshing plunge in our favorite place to swim, or thinking of water needed to survive, water quantity and quality go together. Our dogs may not know better when they leap into the water, but we do. Water quantity is a necessary part of maintaining our water quality.

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