By Madeline Seveland
Carver County Water Management
Water is essential for all life and is at the center of our health, our economies, our communities, and our everyday activities, but we probably don’t think much of it. Every time we turn on our faucet we have the luxury of clean water, but do we fully understand the numerous benefits we and our communities receive from this?
The largest benefit of clean water is public health. Clean water prevents disease. The World Health Organization says 80 percent of disease in the world is directly related to bad water and a lack of sanitation.
Fortunately, our public water infrastructure cleans our drinking water, brings it to our homes, and takes it away after we’ve used it so effectively it is often overlooked. Yet it dramatically increases our community’s health. Other areas of the world are not so lucky. 3.4 million deaths occur yearly due to a lack of clean water, many of which are children.
The quality of water in our lakes and rivers also impacts health for both humans and wildlife. One example comes from algae blooms, which occur when waters have too much nutrients, causing fish kills and creating toxins. Recently, researchers identified a link between a toxic amino acid found in blue-green algae and several neurological diseases (like Lou Gehrig’s disease). In addition, E. coli and other bacteria, often from pet waste and failing septic systems can get into waters and cause infections and illnesses. Clean water prevents hundreds of health issues and diseases including: West Nile virus, cholera, hepatitis A, SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome), polio, intestinal worms, and effects from water with naturally high levels of arsenic or fluoride.
Our economy also benefits from clean water. Explore Minnesota says that tourism, much of which revolves around visiting lakes, river, cabins and associated activities, is an $11.9 billion industry in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has the highest fishing and boating participation of any state in the nation. Anglers and boaters spend about $4 billion annually in Minnesota. Protecting clean water and solving pollution problems ensure the vitality of our much needed tourism economy because no one wants to water ski or fish in a scummy or polluted lake or river.
In addition to health and the economy, clean water improves quality of life in communities. In parts of the world without access to clean water, women and children spend most of the day just hauling water, leaving them little time to take care of other needs. We don’t have to trek for miles every day and carry clean water back to our homes. Having access to clean water saves us time, which can be used for other activities like education, raising families, growing food, and jobs to increase our income and overall quality of life
Water has been referred to as “blue gold,” being both valuable and sought after. In our cities and county, clean water has provided us with increased health, a better economy, and enhanced community and quality of life.
The Carver County Water Management Organization continually works with cities and citizens in the county to protect and improve our lakes and rivers.
To learn more or see how you can help, visit www.co.carver.mn.us/water.