Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Golden Glimmer of Hope
It started to rain 30 minutes ago, and already this small stream is recognizing the effects. It’s flowing a little more powerfully, there’s more stuff in the water from the forest canopy, leave bits and seed coverings, and there’s more silt. There’s still a fine covering of silt over almost everything from the last rain. Erosion is a natural process that causes siltation. But we have increased the eroding power of water by increasing hard surfaces that don’t allow water to percolate through. Water runs off roof tops and driveways hard and fast and scours soil into the local stream. The soil, now silt, covers everything, chokes the gills of fish and aquatic insects, and homogenizes habitat.
One of the predicted scenarios associated with global warming induced climate destabilization is that rains in the mid-Atlantic will become heavier and more sporadic which means heavier, more scouring flows of water.
In spite of the grayish covering, there were still stone flies present. Stone flies are like aquatic canaries and they typically can’t survive in waters too impacted by sediments or nutrients. Their presence is usually interpreted to mean relatively healthy water. One golden stonefly in particular, served especially as a beacon of hope. All is not lost, and if anything these grey silts and golden stoneflies are calls to action: calls to install rain barrels and rain gardens to contain the runoff coming from our roof tops and driveways.