America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a water warning for areas near Durango, Colorado spreading all the way to Mexico. Last week, the Animas River suffered a toxic spill from a nearby mine, resulting in a mustard-colored contamination. 3 million gallons of lead, cadmium, arsenic, copper, manganese, and iron spilled when federal EPA workers were moving earth trying to control rising water levels in Gold King Mine and prevent an incident such as this one.
“What wasn’t a problem in the past is becoming a problem now because of the increased use of mountain water,” says geology and alpine hydrology professor Mark Williams at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mark has worked with the EPA in the past to mitigate polluted water from abandoned Colorado mines. Western states together contain 500,000 abandoned mine sites that have the potential to cause pollution issues such as this one.
But issue at hand remains how the water is going to affect the rest of the country and Mexico. The watershed that the Animas River flows into has already contaminated Colorado and Utah and will continue to flow down through the Navajo nation (some parts of Arizona and New Mexico) and Mexico. Farmers, industrial buildings, and the community surrounding the area of the spill have been warned not to use the water until it is deemed safe again. In the meantime, the EPA has sent out teams to clean the river thoroughly so that it can start to self-heal and bring wildlife back to the area. People living in areas affected by the spill can now file claims with the EPA.
Yahoo! News. Animas River Spill: How Colorado’s ‘Gold Medal’ Rivers Turned Mustard. http://news.yahoo.com/animas-river-spill-colorados-gold-medal-waters-turned-002900376.html
Fox News. EPA’s McCarthy: Contaminated Water From Colorado Mine Will Spread. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/11/epa-mccarthy-contamination-from-colorado-mine-spill-will-spread-cause-still/
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Sustainability is becoming more and more popular in our culture today. The term sustainability as defined by the Bruntland Report in 1987 (the first definition) is, “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since 1987, we have developed far from just having a definition of sustainability. We have the resources and technology to measure and predict our use of nonrenewable resources. We also have the means to understand that humans are destroying our Earth at a rate so quickly that it cannot keep up or even recover.
Each human creates an ecological footprint that determines how our waste and energy use impacts the earth. There are so many ways that humans create their footprint without even recognizing it; by eating more meat, by buying new clothes regularly, by owning a home that has running water… these are just a few ways that we impact the Earth. If you’d like to see your individual impact on the Earth by figuring out your ecological footprint, check out the Global Footprint Network’s footprint calculator at http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/.
Here are some tips to reducing your ecological footprint:
1) Eat less meat and buy more produce from local farmers
2) Use less water in your home and buy water-saving products
3) Use more public transportation and carpool often
4) Dispose of trash properly and recycle all reusable materials
5) Look into supporting your home with renewable energy like solar power
One way that you can reduce your water use is to buy a whole-house filtration system that doesn’t waste water. Filtercon Technologies has created a revolutionary system that reuses backwash to recycle water. Check it out at http://www.filtercon.com or call 800-550-1995 for more information.
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