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Clean Lakes

THE WATERFALL              


Clean Water, Clean Lakes

The connection between fertilizer & water quality

     Guest author, Dr. Milo Shammas   


Clean water in our lakes, reservoirs and streams starts at home with basic practices you can incorporate into your lawn and garden care program.  Water quality begins at home, there's a pipeline from your garden to a water body.  Regardless of where you live, you are a part of a watershed -a region where water flows across or under on its way to a lake, river, stream or ocean.  Year-round lawn and garden care practices impact water quality even if you don't live near a water body.


Thanks to sound science, we now understand how phosphorous-containing fertilizers contribute to poor water quality.  Phosphorous is the middle number on a fertilizer bag, it is present in all living things including the soil.  However, too much phosphorus disrupts natures balance.  Runoff from unused phosphorous in fertilizer moves across lawns, roads and woods into streams and ditches, and eventually into reservoirs and lakes.  Water soluble phosphorous is "junk food" for algae present in a reservoir, lake or stream. Lawns and plants will not be able to absorb all of the applied water soluble fertilizers, so most of it becomes the source of pollution of our waterways.  As algae grows out of control (known as repeated algae bloom) reducing clarity and visibility.  Some forms of blue-green algae can be toxic.  Repeated algae blooms create green lakes with low oxygen which can cause fish kills or loss of cold water habitat, add a foul taste and smell to the drinking water, become a neighborhood nuisance and produce poor water quality for fish, wildlife and humans.


As watersheds are converted from their natural state to residential, commercial or industrial uses, the amount of phosphorous runoff into lakes can increase five to ten times.  Green lakes impact a community in several ways.  Poor water quality significantly reduces recreational use of the water body and reduces the value of the surrounding properties.  I am personally affected immediately.  I own 45 acres of walnut property that I use as our testing facility, and it is a multi level property that acts as an excellent testing ground for a wide variety of plants and trees.  It has a major creek that runs through it where I personally witness the algae blooms as my neighboring farmers are feeding and spraying chemicals on their farms.  I enjoy fishing and eating a fresh caught trout or bass once in a while, but I am genuinely concerned about the quality of the water which directly affects the quality of the fish on my property.  I only use organic fertilizer to feed my property but I can not control what every other farmer uses.  It is very important that every home owner, rancher and farmer use a water insoluble fertilizer such as Sweet Earth.


Runoff of agrochemicals during storm and irrigation events is a significant concern from the standpoint of surface water quality.  Delivery of phosphorous and pesticides into the surface water via runoff may contribute acute or chronic ecotoxicological effects.  Many studies have revealed that transport of agrochemicals in runoff to the surface stream is facilitated primarily by sediment movement, and sediment-bound nutrients may account for up to 90% of the total amount transported in runoff.  It was observed that concentrations of phosphorous and nitrogen were richer in the eroded sediment than the source soil.  Fine soil particles if not blended with coarse organic materials will tend to move quickly during irrigation.  It becomes more critical in times of heavy rain when sediment moves from our properties and travels to the waterways.  Dissolved phosphorous entering the lakes is available for uptake, and high total lakePhosphorous concentrations cause toxic algae blooms, which changes the food chain. Many cities have put a ban on the use of chemical fertilizer in close proximity to lakes and rivers for this very reason.




There is a solution to phosphorous runoff.  Using Sweet Earth organic fertilizers that contain water insoluble phosphorous as a base will ensure that the fertilizer that is applied will remain in the soil and not leach into the water table and travel into our waterways.  Sweet Earth contains MicroActive beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae. A vital mechanism for nutrient transfer in plants lies in the microbial process in the soil.  Microbe's ability to breakdown fertilizer immediately, then continuously release it slowly at a later date, increases yield and builds the humus reserve in the soil.  Humus conversion increases the soils ability to absorb and retain water, reduce runoff and fertilizer loss caused by wind or water erosion.


Apply fertilizer only when it is needed, during the right season, and in the proper amounts.  Avoid getting fertilizer on driveways, sidewalks and in storm drains.  Above all, fertilize carefully when using a chemical fertilizer, don't let your fertilizer application get into lakes, streams or ponds.  Use a mulching mower and cut no more than the top third of the grass.  Keep leaves, grass clippings and soil out of streets and gutters.  Clean up after your pet, pet waste contains phosphorous.  Prevent soil erosion by covering the ground with vegetation or mulch.  Use Sweet Earth organic fertilizers to feed your lawn and all other plants in the garden to ensure that you are not applying water soluble phosphorous.


We all share the same pool of water.  Please be responsible with your applications of fertilizer to ensure that future generations will enjoy a healthy toxic free environment. Poor water quality can impact the ability of fish to reproduce, find a steady food supply, and survive the stress of life in the dynamic marine environment. It all starts in our own backyard and ends in a large body of water.  Please be a responsible stewart to our environment.


Milo Lou Shammas

President & Chief Scientist

Sweet Earth Advanced Organics


A note from Friends of Water:  We're not selling Sweet Earth fertilizers on our site only because the weight and shipping costs make it a better buy for you to get it locally.  We do recommend these excellent products however.

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There is a page on the site called Whole House Filters.  It contains information about whole house filters, including combining them with fluoride filters. 


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Water Catch Recognized

The rain water catch was just recognized in an international  competition by The Arup Cause, a contest run by ARUP in association with WaterAid.  There were three prize winners and three 'highly commended submissions'. The rain water catch was in the latter group.  We'll provide more information on the recognition in the next copy of The Waterfall, but for more info on the design, see 
Rain Water Catch

Drinking Recycled Water

Over a million people in southeast Queensland, Australia will have no choice but to drink recycled water if there isn't drenching rain by 2009. Recycled water would be pumped into a holding dam regardless of the result of a scheduled referendum on the issue. The Wivenhoe system, which is at 24 per cent of capacity, is being drained at a rate of 10 per cent a year. An estimated supply shortfall of 200-300 million litres a day would force the Government to add treated water to the dams, unless significant rain restored dam levels. With only two years of water left before the water supply at Wivenhoe is reduced to little more than mud flats, residents face dry taps without the completion of a vital pipeline.

Toilet-to-tap recycling is an unpopular last resort around the world. One governmental expert said she had done her best to learn from the available scientific material, and is satisfied that water can be treated to a level equal to or better than the water people are drinking now. She said that there is no treatment process that takes absolutely everything out of the water but it is treated to a level that's fit for consumption.


Montana and Wyoming Water Fight
The Bighorn River winds through the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area near the Wyoming-Montana border. Back when the Bighorn River flowed strong out of the distant Wind River mountains, it backed up 72 miles from the Yellowtail Dam in Montana south to the outskirts of Lovell, Wyoming, forming a man-made lake. But drought has choked the Bighorn for eight years, cutting off 30 miles of Bighorn Lake. What was once a thriving tourist and vacation area is at risk, and now a Montana US Senator wants to tap the water reservoir to feed a downstream trout fishery.

The Senator has introduced a bill Lovell officials say would doom Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Another front in the water wars has been opened.  As the worst dry spell since the 1930s shows no signs of easing, many states are squabbling with each other and federal officials.

Nebraska and Kansas are wrangling for control of irrigation water from the Republican River. South Dakota has demanded that the Army Corps of Engineers stop drawing down reservoirs in the state because it is hurting recreational fishing. Barge companies along the Missouri River in Iowa are demanding the Corps release more water so their vessels can operate.

Wyoming and Montana are fighting two other water battles in the Tongue and Powder river basins. Montana officials claim Wyoming is diverting too much water from the rivers before they cross the state line, sparking a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit. Coal-bed methane production in Wyoming has Montana worried over the prospect of poor-quality water flowing into their state.

"The only thing that I think will help is more snow and more rain. I don't think anything that mankind can do will help it." said 84-year-old Hermina "Minnie" Gams. Minnie was among the 73 families forced to give up 30,870 acres of farmland in the 1960s to make way for Yellowtail Dam and Bighorn Canyon recreation area.


US Ocean Priorities

The Bush Administration announced major budget increases totaling more than $140 million to support coastal and marine conservation efforts in Fiscal Year 2008, and released the administration's Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy.

"President Bush has a bold vision to clean up our oceans and coastlines," Commerce Secretary Gutierrez said. "Whether for fishing, tourism, recreation or trade, oceans are a treasured part of America 's life and economy. With these additional resources and the new Ocean Research Priorities Plan, NOAA will be able to expand its research and implement plans to better protect our oceans, fish and ecosystems."


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Georgia Dugout Canoe

Rayonier Southeast Forest Resources recently donated a 17-foot long wooden dugout canoe to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia. The historic find - believed to be the first documented in the State of Georgia - was discovered submerged in sand and shallow water near a sandy shoal adjacent to the Satilla River in Ware County.

"We can't understand local Indian lifeways without considering the role of dugout canoes, any more than we can think about our own society without taking cars into account," said Dennis Blanton, Curator of Native American Archaeology for the Fernbank Museum. "Dugout canoes were the only transportation alternative available to local Indians beyond foot travel and they were especially important on Georgia's coast and in the wetlands of South Georgia."


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