I recently had a chance to visit several water resources in the state of Ohio for various reasons and one thing is overwhelmingly clear … and it’s not the water. It’s the fact that those residents and business that draw from the sources are scared. Scared of bio-disasters like Flint, Michigan. Scared of algae issues. Scared of industrial runoff. Scare of loosing the most important resource we have when it comes to the health and well-being of our communities and the economic growth of our businesses.
I think it’s time for a new approach or re-awakening of how important water is to us. When I was younger as just a kid growing up — I want to say that I had a “relationship” if you will with the waterways around us. We knew everything about every pond, creek, lake, river, reservoir and quarry around us. The best times to swim, the best times to fish and the best times to stay away. We appreciated the great beauty and respected the power that each of these waterways represented.
For example, we would hike down into the valley through the woods to catch crayfish in the local creek. This time of year — spring going into summer — was a lot of fun. Most of the paths to the creek were beaten down by winter snow. The smell of wildflowers and leeks would fill the woods and the sounds of birds and other wildlife echoed along the way.
In the summertime, the walk through the woods to the creek was cooler then being in the sunshine, and by the time we got to the creek the shoes and socks were off and the water walk began. The water was so clear and cold and the search for minnows and crayfish was a blast. After we had a jar full of bait it was off to the local ponds and quarries to fish and play. The only discoloration in the water back then was the deeper shades of darkness that ran from the walls of the quarries to the middle of the lake.
When heavy rains would come, we understood the strength of the river, and even the creeks, and knew they were strong enough and dangerous enough to stay away. And when drought came we would clean the banks of dead fish and debris.
I think many of today’s generation really haven’t experienced the water the way we did growing up. Today they fly across the water in speed boats and jet skis and vacation in warm weather salt water beaches, and don’t really appreciate what we had, have or could have right here in Ohio.
If you are training anyone for any job the best way to get them to learn is a “hands-on” experience. We have to be able to show the next generation the good and the bad first hand. We need to explore all of our options to improve and protect what God has given us and teach them why this is important.
There are far to many ways to get up-close-and-personal with our waterways. Get off the bike and walk the canal paths, get off the boat and walk the banks of our lakes, explore the woods and find the natural water sources that feed our main waterways.
I don’t think we need more legislation to protect our environment and water resources. But what we do need is passion and commitment and a sincere desire teach our families what our water has to offer.
If we do not get the next generation to have a “hands-on” experience with our water resources I would feel scared too.
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.