Earth News Journal 15: Sugar Creek Watershed Management

The third scholarly article that I read for the AP Environmental Science project discussed developing improved models of watershed management, specifically at the Sugar Creek Watershed in Ohio.

According to the article, the Sugar Creek Watershed is the most impaired watershed in Ohio.

A watershed is considered impaired when is has a high amount of sedimentation, an excess nutrient loading of phosphorus, nitrates, and ammonium, low dissolved oxygen rates, a high temperature, a loss of surrounding habitat, and heavily-present bacteria.

The prompt for clearing up the Sugar Creek Watershed came from the United States Environmental Protection Agency; limits have now been set for the daily loading of nutrients specific to each watershed. This restriction is being referred to as the Total Maximum Daily Loading regulation.

Midwestern farming communities feel that they are disproportionately blamed for pollution problems found in local freshwater zones. Local activists are now looking to begin a collaborative group effort to help restore the Sugar Creek watershed, including regional farmers, researchers, and agents of local government.

Farms have changed dramatically since the Second World War along the edge of the corn and soybean belt. Farm size has increased, through the leasing of available land, while farms have also transitioned into industrial models, instead of resident farms owned by a local family.

With an increase in land, inflated prices have also increased the debt of many farmers across the country, thereby forcing farmers to look for cheap, efficient methods of distributing food. These efficient methods, however, are not always environmentally conscious and often end up damaging the land needed so desperately for crops to grow in abundance.

A decrease in food varieties has also become the country trend, with farmers eagerly continuing to grow crops that have received great profits in the past. Nevertheless, by squandering soil with the planting and harvesting of like crops, one is only lessening his chances for receiving maximum output on his farmland. At the Sugar Creek Watershed, officials are looking to form a new approach for government involvement by restoring inconsistencies in the programming of conservation methods.

Reflection

I believe it essential that watersheds be properly managed, in order for maintaining biodiversity in all ecosystems. When any area of land, regardless of it being a watershed, agricultural field, or mountainous region, is left neglected and spoiled by human activities, we are only inviting negative outcomes to the surrounding environment. When trash is left in creeks or rivers, it cannot be properly digested back into the environment. When harmful pollutants and chemicals are purposefully and distinctly dumped into freshwater or oceanic habitats, they contaminate the water and harm the organisms that live within these biomes. I think it wise that the members of the Sugar Creek Watershed are acknowledging their lack of regulations and are attempting to prevent the spread of harmful actions by cleaning up their act and the environment. Hopefully, Sugar Creek can rebound with the aid of government regulations and official patrols.

Parker, Jason Shaw, Richard Moore, and Mark Weaver. “Developing Participatory Models of Watershed Management in the Sugar Creek Watershed (Ohio, USA).” Water Alternatives (2009): n. pag. 19 Oct. 2013. Web.

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