By EILEEN OAKS
Marketing and Outreach, The Watershed Foundation
Water is the backbone of our community: fueling the local economy, presenting countless recreational opportunities, and nourishing agricultural productions among many other things. World Water Day today, March 22, focuses attention on the importance of water internationally, and in local communities.
This year’s theme, “Nature for Water,” explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges. The subject aims to raise awareness of protecting water through natural solutions, like planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands, as a sustainable and cost-effective way to help rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
The Watershed Foundation, a local non-profit organization, has taken action for healthy lakes in the local community through nature-based projects during the past 20 years.
“By implementing on-the-ground solutions, engaging youth and adults, and uniting partners, we have focused on taking action to protect our local waters today and for the future,” said Lyn Crighton, TWF executive director.
TWF’s proactive approach to protecting and improving water quality though utilizing solutions found in nature has had a direct effect on our local water. In the past 15 years, biology at nine of the 10 testing sites around the watershed has improved.
“One of our biggest assets are our two watershed conservationists who work with landowners and local government agencies like the Kosciusko Soil and Water Conservation District to increase land yields and decrease erosion as part of the Soil Health Initiative,” explained Crighton. “They work together to find the best solution for local productions and the lakes. Over 300 projects ranging from wetland restoration, to cover crop rotation, to grassed waterways have been implemented through this program.”
TWF has also gained national accolades for its Healthy Shorelines Initiative, which focuses on repairing the land directly connected to the lakes by making it more natural. Replacing concrete or bare seawalls with native plants and glacial stones reduces erosion, decreases wave-action and creates habitat for wildlife.
“Our largest project currently is focused on restoring the shoreline at the Winona Lake Limitless Park to make it safer for visitors and healthier for the lake. We have secured local grants from the K21 Health Foundation and the KCCRVC, and will be able to start this project this summer,” explained Crighton.
The community is encouraged to join in World Water Day by taking actions for their water, too. Simple habits, like picking up dog waste and conserving water in the home can add up to large beneficial impacts! More resources for personal initiatives can be found at Indiana.ClearChoicesCleanWater.org.
“TWF’s work is made possible by our community supporters and volunteers,” said Crighton. “We all have a duty to protect this water that’s not guaranteed to us. We’re so fortunate to have these healthy, abundant waters in our community, and protecting them is up to all of us!”
To learn more about World Water Day, visit WorldWaterday.org.