judy palfrey

Judy Palfrey

Do you really know anything about the Clean Water Act? It protects our water and at this point in our history we should be very concerned about clean water.

However, we may lose the CWA if the administration has its way. I remember reading money is the root of all evil; well, we need to look at how our earth is being destroyed for money.

How many of you go to Lake Martin? Do you visit friends, go swimming, go to bass tournaments or just fish, ride in your boats, ski or do other recreational activities? Do you go to the beach to swim? Several of us sample the water around the lake to provide you with information about the chemical analyses. How many of you knew that? Lake Martin is the cleanest lake in the state because of groups of folks taking care of it but if we don’t have the Clean Water Act industries that dump pollutants into water won’t have laws to make them take care of the water. 

Right now, in states up north near the coal companies, the Trump administration (his EPA pick) gave approval to dump highly toxic water into the bay. Fish will be killed, drinking water will be contaminated and my favorite critter — the macroinvertebrate — will be killed. 

In 1983, the Stream Restoration Rule was put into effect. It required a 100-foot buffer zone to limit the dumping of earthen material removed from the top of a mountain to fall into the streams. This material has about 20 different chemicals in it including arsenic, mercury and selenium. These chemicals can enter the body by breathing, ingestion or skin contact (SOCM Community Empowerment, March 16, 2015). The maximum limits on several contaminants exceeded the limit by 2,000 times. These chemicals have harmful effects on animals, humans and plants. Some of the issues with humans are asthma, blood, skin, nerve system and various organ and brain illnesses as well as cancer. Bush changed the law to favor the coal companies and in the last year of the Obama administration, Obama shored up the law again to make the area safer and cleaner. Trump has blocked Obama’s ruling and is allowing “excess spoil” which is called “acid mine runoff” to enter the streams. If the coal companies dump into the water, they can destroy the water of the USA. We — you and I — need to get involved and keep up with this administration destroying our earth.

I try to keep up to date on the happenings of the EPA because it gives some money to ADEM. Its budget has been cut and our state government has cut ADEM’s budget as well. We need these environmental organizations to keep industries on track through the NPDES permit program. If they cannot inspect, how will they know someone is polluting the water? It is our water to enjoy — well, Alabama Power Company’s — but we need to help take care of it.

I am going to change the subject with a happy note. Some of the kids in our area schools have had the opportunity to look for macroinvertebrates (bugs for short) in our water. Some bugs cannot live in polluted water but others, like leeches, can. Have you ever heard of caddisflies, mayflies and stoneflies? Stoneflies need clean water and you can find them at Camp ASCCA. They have lots of other macroinvertebrates up there so I know the water is clean. I know most fishermen/women know about caddisflies and mayflies. 

I want to give John Thompson and his helpers a heads up since he has been getting the lake cleaned up from trash pollution. Every time I sample, I see trash — cans, plastic bags or candy wrappers, etc. Why don’t people care when they go out on the lake or live on the lake? I just don’t understand. We do not have maintenance crews or maids out picking up your trash. Clean up your mess. This is called nonpoint pollution because it doesn’t come from a pipe (point source) but from us. 

Nonpoint source pollution could be trash, sediment (the worst pollutant in the state) gas or oil leakages, dog feces, fertilizers or pesticides. We all need to be aware of what goes on the ground because it all runs down due to gravity to the lowest point and all of us have downstream neighbors. There is a huge dead zone in the Gulf due to pollution from upstream. When signs are posted at the beach warning “closed due to pollution,” it usually means pathogens. Let’s all be aware of our own pollution as well as keeping up with the administration and speaking out when you see EPA undermining Earth. It is our responsibility for our children, grandchildren and beyond. 

Judy Palfrey is a Dadeville resident.