healthy water

My Independence Day Musing

By Dave Deegan

This week we celebrate one of my favorite holidays – Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Even now, decades after I left school for good and have been in the workforce, this early summer holiday continues to hold strong associations and memories of the thrill I once felt knowing that the whole summer was waiting ahead of me with fun activities like swimming, camping, baseball games, picnics, long days and lingering twilight.  Great, relaxing times with family and friends, and sometimes a welcome trip to the beach or a mountain lake.

Nowadays, celebrating our nation’s founding on Independence Day has far deeper meaning than the pleasure of a picnic or watching a jaw-dropping fireworks display. I always am grateful for the freedom we enjoy in the US: freedoms to read and write and debate, the liberty to live where and how we choose and the promise to define one’s own life work.

Picture of a flag on a bridge over water.

Of course, we all accept that our personal freedom has limits, either for other people’s good or for the community as a whole. When it comes to the environment, we all live both upstream as well as downstream.  My actions can impact you, just as yours can impact me.  As someone who cares a lot about EPA’s mission – to protect human health and the environment – I am always aware of the trade-off required when it comes down to EPA enforcing the laws to keep harmful pollution from the water, air or land.

What is ironic in all of this is that so much of what makes our collective independence so precious actually depends so much on our collective interdependence.  Our will and willingness to be good neighbors to each other often goes hand-in-hand with being good stewards of our environment.

So here’s to a great Fourth, to enjoying some potato salad, a burger, a small-town parade and a marching band playing the patriotic classics.  And maybe a few thoughts to how good it is to breathe clean air, to enjoy fresh healthy water and to dig a garden in good soil.

About the author: Dave Deegan works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. When he’s not digging rocks out of his garden, he loves being outdoors in one of New England’s many special places.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Tell Us Why “Water Is Worth It” To You

By Travis Loop

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. As our team at EPA planned a variety of activities to mark the occasion, we settled on the tagline Water Is Worth It.
I suppose that seems like a really broad, open-ended and ambiguous phrase, which also raises a number of questions. What is it worth? Why is it worth it? Worth it to who?

But that was the point – to have a tagline for the 40th anniversary that reflects the diverse spectrum and incredible depth of water’s importance to people. And while there is much about water’s value to civilization that is universal, water is also extremely personal and subject to an individual’s experiences. Our society has collective uses for water, such as drinking, swimming and fishing. But water also has a special and unique place in our lives, whether rooted in memories of a childhood watering hole, a river that runs by the neighborhood or a career focused on protecting water. For me, surfing and diving in the ocean is virtually a spiritual experience and watching my children play in the water brings me tremendous joy.

So when you hear Water Is Worth It, what does that mean to you?

We really want to know. So to help commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, EPA is asking people to send in a 15-second video clip about the important role that water plays in their life. Each video should include the phrase “Water Is Worth It,” but the rest is up to you. EPA will post selected videos on its website and Facebook page.

To learn more and register, visit

Fill out a video entry form, and submit your entry as a video response to the promotional video on EPA’s YouTube page. Video submissions must be received by September 14, 2012.

Grab your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, and pets and let us know why Water is Worth It to you. We’re confident that the submissions are going to show that water means many different things to many people, but that it is critically important to everyone.

About the author: Travis Loop is the communications director for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The View from Vermont

By Jeffrey Levy

Ah, Vermont. Where I go to get away from my job, but also where I’m reminded of why I do my job.

Every summer, we go to “camp,” the cabin on a Vermont lake built by my wife’s great-grandfather in 1913.  Think “rustic,” not “luxury.” The walls are plywood, the floors creak, there’s an abundance of spiders and usually a few mice, and it smells musty.  I try to convince my daughters that spiders help keep the mosquito population down, to mixed success. When I sit up late at night reading, or we stargaze, the world outside vanishes.  In other words, it’s heaven.

Camp is where we take stuff like furniture and appliances when we buy new things for home. The recliner chair where I’m sitting to write this is at least 50 years old. Some of the books on the shelves date to the 1930s. The cupboard is full of plates from when my mother-in-law grew up. People here were reusing long before we started talking about “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Our water is another subject related to EPA’s mission. For the first 15 years I came up here, we couldn’t drink the water from the tap because it came out of the lake; we had to buy water. Now we have a well, but I worry about getting it tested regularly. There’s never been heavy industry here, so swimming has always been ok. But when I consider how many lakes and rivers were seen as places to dump toxic chemicals, I can see how most U.S. water bodies weren’t fit for swimming or fishing when EPA was founded in 1970.

One of the best things about camp is the clean air. We come in August, when DC is at its hottest and haziest. No code red days up here! When we hike up nearby mountains, and I’m sucking in lungfuls of air, I appreciate EPA’s efforts to make sure everyone has healthy air to breathe.

I don’t mean to say that I’m constantly thinking about EPA when I come to Vermont. But it’s good to be reminded so directly why EPA’s mission is so important.

Where do you go to get away from it all? Do you ever think about the environment when you do?

About the author: Jeffrey Levy joined EPA in 1993. Before becoming Director of Web Communications, he worked to protect the ozone layer and end acid rain.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action; and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog post.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.