Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 258: November 25, 2016 Standing Rock Slipped by Me

November 25, 2016
Day 258

Standing Rock Slipped by Me

Standing Rock has crashed into my heart and I do not think I will ever be the same, nor anyone else for that matter. The honor, privilege, and responsibility to protect our water surges past politics and enters our everyday living cycle. Standing Rock represents all of that. Water spills over boundary lines flowing to everything that communicates civilization for cities are built on waterways. Life comes from water. The Holy Spirit is streams of living water. Standing Rock represents a rolling back of time to essentials, to respect, biodiversity, water quality, honor, maintaining promises, stewardship and the Creator who loves us. However, with all that said, Standing Rock should have been on my radar, especially with my feeble attempt at helping students create significant, real life hooks.

Two weeks ago I was traipsing around with students to different stream locations as we were making connections with Chemistry and water quality. During the summer I discovered Earth Force Low-Cost Water Quality Monitoring Kit. They said "it would provide a simple, economical, nontoxic method of testing well water or naturally flowing water for 8 basic water quality parameters." Impressive to me were the parameters this little kit tested: Coliform, Temperature, Turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Nitrate, and Phosphate. I was now ready and prepared to educate these students.

Evan Corondi from Berk's Conservation had sent me the coordinates for the confluence of the Conestoga Stream and off we went. The confluence is a place I have passed over on Mill Road since 1985 and all of a sudden, for me, on that particular Tuesday, I became connected to the Bay, to greater issues, to a broader understanding. But still not to Standing Rock, right under my nose.

The students interacted with our assignment in their individual ways; some were knee deep, some were contemplative, some had clipboards (ok only one), and some were daydreaming.

But we all knew why we were there and we were all talking about water quality. And sometimes that is simply good enough. I reveled in this fact on that beautiful fall day.

They noticed the extensive erosion all along the Conestoga River which runs 22 miles long and eventually ends in the Chesapeake Bay. They understood at a basic level that this poses a problem and a threat to the Bay which is also one of the largest estuaries (thanks Mike Ponsell for educating me) out of the hundred that are in the United States.

What about estuaries? Let me quote from the Chesapeake Bay - "Estuaries are among the most productive environments on earth, creating more organic matter each year than similarly sized forests and agricultural areas. Estuaries also provide diverse habitats for wildlife and aquatic life, protect our communities against flooding, reduce pollution to waterways, and support local economies through commercial and recreational activities."

An Estuary is a place most of us do not take time to consider, reflect upon or even know about. (guilty - why do I continue to air my dirty list of topics on which I need more conviction?! arrggghhh!)

The students also noticed what others think is natural, bucolic (I've never heard them use that word though) and that is, livestock with easy access to the water using it as their septic and drinking system. This is what the coliform test measures, the fecal content. In the areas that we sampled for coliform all three tested positive. Fecal matter is not necessarily pathogenic but an indicator. This was not good news to the students. One of the streams has been a place they have innocently entered and played in at their learning group picnics. This will not be so tempting at the next picnic.

All of this water moves relentlessly and continuously to the Chesapeake Bay. And, therefore, water quality has been significantly discussed for an entire quarter. However never once did we mention the situation in the Dakotas through which the Keystone pipeline snakes. Though our next class on Tuesday will be baking bread noting the chemical fermentation process, we will begin to process the impact a leaking pipeline will have on the major waterways as we continue to plan and prepare a Water Quality presentation. For water is indeed life and it levels the playing field. For everyone needs and must have water. And I must pay better attention! Standing Rock, no one knows what the outcome will be. I do believe it is a situation in need of prayer and much.

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