Lancaster Watersheds

By: Eddy Kirchoff

This portion of sustainability that I am going to talk about will be about conservation and the how watersheds are important to our way of life, and by keeping the water quality in our local streams and rivers in good condition that will in the long run become beneficial. The LACAWAC SANCTUARY is local here to the state of Pennsylvania.  LACAWAC is able to offer the Watershed Educators Institute, which is a weeklong course in the summer for teachers from grades 6-12. Teachers that are participating in this event are engaged in outdoor activities throughout the entire week and are actively engaged in learning what it takes to create watershed charts and make river basin maps.

There is a whole lot of instructors that will be on hand during the week in order to give guidance and help teach just why taking care of our streams and rivers has become even more important over the years. Some of the instructors are Jamie Reeger, who is the director of Environmental Education at Lacawac Sanctuary, Steve Kerlin, who has a Ph.D., Director of education at stroud water research center.

Water conservation is very important to me, every year I go to music festivals and I volunteer to clean up trash. I help separate trash from the recycling and I also open up water bottles and dump out the water. Water gets trapped inside the bottles and then gets stuck inside of landfills and that leaves a great portion of our clean drinking water inaccessible. I also care a lot about water because we as humans can do so much to stop this and we find so many animals that was up on our shores with plastic covering them or when they are dead we find that they had consumed so much plastic that it actually contributes to their deaths and that is just sad. I also find it very ironic because we as people love to eat seafood and yet we are killing the ocean and rivers and streams and then when we go fishing we catch these animals and eat them and they are now contaminated with all kinds of pollutants and the we eat them.

Water conservation that is taught by these programs tells more about why all water should be clean from the water that is in our oceans and streams to the water that falls from the sky as rain. Some parts of our country are so polluted with acid rain that it is so harmful to the environment and the people that live there. Acid rain is harmful in all forms and if we can help keep down our emissions and keep our streams clean, we can cut down on that. The acid rain is due to its part of the water cycle when after water has evaporated and along with any pollutants go up with it into the sky, then when it is time to rain the water along with all those grosse things in the sky come down and make things so much worse. Here are some stats about how poor practices have effected much larger bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, leading to mass deaths among the aquatic life there.

How Farmers here in Pa effect the Chesapeake bay

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The biggest danger from water runoff and impurities in the water is the damage that our local rivers and streams have on the Chesapeake Bay. Due to the high quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus and pesticides that end up in our local streams and rivers from the farmers across the state, the Chesapeake Bay has been in disarray. Only in the past 5 years has the Bay finally been starting to see changes in the quality of water and the water life has been making a resurgence. Dead zones have decimated the aquatic life populations in the Bay for decades before Farmers were forced to start safer practices and clean up their acts.

Lancaster County is one of the largest culprits of water pollution. It starts with poor air quality that Lancaster also has a terrible track record of. When it rains all the carcinogens and pollutants that are in the air end up in the rivers. The rain fall also washes away any animal waste into the local streams and rivers therefore polluting the local watersheds. The water sheds then runoff into the Susquehanna River which then drains into the Chesapeake Bay creating these dead zones killing the aquatic wild life.


Naturalist Mary Ann of Millersville and the Lancaster County Park environmental center says that we can tell a lot about the water quality of Lancaster County by the water invertebrates that are found in our local rivers and streams. Mayflies are super sensitive to the quality of water and populations are lower in years when the water quality is pours. Recently there has been an uptick in Mayfly populations over the last few years. The water quality in Lancaster has been getting better due to the fact that farmers have been implementing safer agricultural practices to cut down on nitrogen and phosphorus drainage into our local rivers and streams that eventually does loads of damage to the Chesapeake Bay. 

Chris Steuer of Millersville, head of the Lombardo Center has done his part here on campus. The biggest thing that he has done up to this point besides trying to teach everyone here about sustainability, has been to set up clean drinking fountains here across campus. If you have been at the library or over in the Bassler hallway you have seen these fountains that have clean water filtration systems that allow you to fill up a water bottle or canteen in order that you can drink clean water. The water is from an aquifer underground and is very clean.

Photo taken by: Eddy Kirchoff
Photo taken by: Eddy Kirchoff
Video created by: Eddy Kirchoff


Naturalist Mary Ann of Lancaster County Environmental Center

Chris Steuer of Millersville