“Fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Sources of fresh water are necessary for health care, agriculture and industry. Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on significant supplies of water have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments these have not been administered with sufficient oversight and impartiality. Water poverty especially affects Africa where large sectors of the population have no access to safe drinking water or experience droughts which impede agricultural production. Some countries have areas right in water while others endure drastic scarcity.” (Laudato Si #28)
Water is everywhere in the Adirondacks, as the video at the top of this blog illustrates. This beautiful region is an area in the U.S. where the abundance of water supports a vast ecosystem of forests, wildlife, agriculture, recreation and many communities. The Adirondacks are the source of many rivers, including the mighty Hudson river that supports tens of millions of people downstream.
Even with such great abundance of water, concern for the purity and long-term health of the water in this region is a major conservation priority. Before the aggressive “forever wild” legislation at the end of the 19th Century and additional protections imposed throughout the 20th Century, the waterways of the Adirondack region were clogged with the results of the logging and mining industries that flourished here. Between the dangers posed from industrial development and the careless use of waterways in the back country, much of the water became unsafe for human consumption and dangerous for fish and wildlife as well. Decades of aggressive conservation measures not only here but across the nation have helped to reduce the harmful effects of acid rain and other sources of water pollution. Nevertheless, the fragility of the ecosystem requires constant vigilance.
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