By Regina Klepikow
I grew up in South Texas. My father’s family was from Laredo, Texas and occupied a half a block of El Rincon del Diablo, the Devils Corner for years and still do to this very day. My father was born on one of the first streets in America, Ventura Street. The house he grew up in had minimal luxuries and his back yard was the Rio Grande. As a child, my brothers and I would visit our aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived there. We would play kick ball in the open area next to our families’ houses. We could clearly see the U.S Border Patrol Bridge and across that Mexico. We used to explore the edge of the Rio Grande and skip rocks across its waters. When I was walking along the banks, I could clearly see trails and personal belongings that others had left behind. Into the dark murky waters of the Rio Grande, I watched even darker waters pouring into the river from drains and spouts at various points along the bank. As a kid, no one really thinks of water quality and the health impacts of poor waters; but I thought in my mind that something was amiss.
Growing up, I always wondered who was in charge of the river. I thought there has to be someone out there that checks up on this. As I did some research, I found some articles written by EPA about the water quality of the Rio Grande, and realized that Mexico was not subject to our policies. Upon entering college, I wrote an essay about Water Quality in the Rio Grande for a scholarship.
Now that I am out of college and an EPA employee, I have learned a lot about our nation’s water bodies. I feel that I am an important part of analyzing our water quality here in Region 7. I have analyzed water samples for inorganic contaminants, nutrients, and currently for microbiological contaminants. I never thought that I would ever be doing something that pertained to my scholarship essay or my childhood thoughts. It seems as though it has all come full circle.
Region 7 has a great app called KCWaterBug. During warmer months, I use this app a lot. My daughter and I love to go out to our local creeks and rivers to look for fossils and insects. She has a large insect collection and we are building on our fossil collection. Upon checking the app, my daughter and I will determine if we will go to a nearby stream or wait for another day. If the water quality is good, we go on a little hike. It is fun to pass time by skipping rocks and following the banks and turning over rocks. It is even better when we come across fossils like Rugose coral or fossilized bivalves. We have also run across others who search for fossils or arrowheads along the banks too. Hopefully some day, my daughter will recall our fossil hunting trips as fondly as I remember skipping rocks back near the Devil’s Corner. I know she is just as interested in learning how to restore and preserve our waters for the two of us to enjoy, and one day, for her own children.
Regina Klepikow was born and grew up in south Texas. She relocated to Kansas City with her family in the 90’s where she attended high school and college. She loves art and photography but not wanting to live the life of a starving artist she majored in Biology. Currently she is a Life Scientist at the Region 7 Laboratory. In order to let her artistic creativity out, she has devoted herself iPhone photography and is avid Instagrammer.