Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Portland's Water by Kristin Palmer

Protecting Natural Resources
Kristin Palmer
Warner Pacific College
December 17, 2013

Protecting Natural Resources
            How can we make sure that we are able to live on our planet for as long as possible? Protect what we have and keep it going as long as we can. Humans have a huge impact on our environment every day. The key to keeping our ecosystem going is to figure out the best way to go about our day to day lives and make the smallest impact on the environment as possible. There are so many systems to consider. When I hear that we have a lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, it makes me even less sure as to what I can do to help. As I said before, we have a big impact on our environment. Everything we do makes a difference. Unfortunately the difference is not always good. The energy that I am using right now sitting at my computer to type this paper has an impact on the environment. Simple little things like that, things that you probably do not even think of, have an impact on the earth around you. That makes it seem even more overwhelming to try to figure out how to make less of an impact.
            One of the biggest impacts that we have on our environment happens to be on the water cycle. Environment, The Science Behind the Stories tells us that the water cycle affects all other cycles, and our impact on the water cycle is extensive. We put up dams, we hold water in reservoirs which causes it to evaporate faster, we clear cut plants and trees to develop land which causes soil erosion. Pollution  in the atmosphere is absorbed in water as rain falls, so rain is not even clean water anymore, (pg. 120-21) (Withgott & Laposata, 2014)
            I remember growing up, during the summer there would be advisories against using water because it was so hot out and we had water shortages. People were discouraged from washing their cars or watering their lawns when it was hot out.  Of course I remember my mom still washing the car in the backyard so no one could see her, and we still had our swimming pool filled to play in. The major one I remember was in the summer of 1992 and there was a drought, so the water supply in Portland was running low. I found a brief paragraph about it in a Portland Water Bureau report that talked about water usage in Portland.  They said that the water shortage of 1992 had an influence on customers continued outdoor water use. Many people realized that if they didn’t water their lawns then they didn’t have to mow. It also said that overall per household water use is down from the 1990’s in Portland. (Portland Water Bureau, 2008)
            Looking toward the future, in 2008 there were roundtable discussions around Portland to discuss the future of Portland water. Many Oregonians do not think that we will have enough water in 2028 (20 years from the discussions) to cover all of the needs we will have. Oregon and Alaska are the only two western states without a plan on how they will meet future water demands.  (Milstein, 2008) It seems that even with things like water saving toilets and showerheads, and overall consumption being down, we may still have a problem in the future.
            I do not really know what to do to solve these problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a plan in place for all cities to cover their open reservoirs. This has been a huge issue in Portland, as the reservoirs on Mt. Tabor have been a part of the city for years. The idea behind this is to protect the water from Cryptosporidium and other disease causing bacteria.  (EPA, 2013) I do not think that it is a bad thing to protect our drinking water; I feel that it is unfortunate that we will lose the reservoirs since they are beautiful to look at. I remember as a kid during the summer walking to Mt. Tabor and walking around all of the different reservoirs. I wonder what the city is going to do with them once they are empty, and I think a lot of other people want to know the same thing.
            I do think there should be a way to protect our water. It is our greatest natural resource, and without it, nothing would be able to live. I am just not sure how you would go about creating a committee or actually enforcing limits on our water usage. Unless there was some sort of a device in each home that cut off the water after a certain amount was used each day. This is a tricky thing to tackle. With logging, they are required to replant trees to replenish what is cut down. Yes, it takes years for a tree to grow back to be as big as the old growth timber that they are clear cutting, but at least the process can be started over again and the trees will re-grow. We cannot exactly grow ourselves new water, but if we do not do something about it, in 20 years we may not have enough water for everyone.
EPA. (2013, February 11). Water: Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule. Retrieved from Environmental Protection Agency:

Milstein, M. (2008, December 30). Oregonians forsee future water shortages. Retrieved from The Oregonian:

Portland Water Bureau. (2008, March 20). Portand Water Bureau. Retrieved from Water Conservation plan:

Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2014). Environment The Science Behind The Stories. Glenview, Il: Pearson Education Inc.

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