June is National Rivers Month! Did you know that the United States has over 3,660,000 miles of rivers? That's enough distance to circle the Earth 146 times! Freshwater rivers and streams provide drinking and irrigation water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and more. Celebrate and protect rivers in your community with these tips:
- Find out where your water comes from - chances are it's a local river or stream! Some of the nation's biggest cities get their water from rivers. In Washington, DC, 76 percent of drinking water for metro-area residents comes from the Potomac River. Residents of Omaha and Kansas City get water from the Mississippi River and many Las Vegas and Phoenix residents get water from the Colorado River. The Cedar and Tolt Rivers support residents in Seattle.
- Conserve fresh water supplies. If the entire world's water fit into a one-gallon jug, fresh water available for our use would equal about one tablespoon! The average American family of four uses roughly 400 gallons of water per day at home - but you can save water every day with three easy actions. Shave two minutes off your shower to save five gallons; turn off water between rinsing dishes to save five gallons; and water your lawn in early morning or late evening to save 20 gallons. That's 30 gallons with minimal effort!
- Protect water quality. Pollutants that are carried away from yards and streets with rain water - like fertilizers, pesticides, oil and pet waste - can go right into our rivers and streams, untreated. Taking simple steps at home, like checking the forecast before applying fertilizers and promptly cleaning up any spills, can go a long way in protecting water quality.
- Become a volunteer water monitor. Help monitor the conditions of your local waterways. The National Directory of Volunteer Monitoring Programs can help you find a volunteer organization in your area to get started!
For more weather and environment tips, visit Earth Gauge!
(Sources: National Wild & Scenic Rivers, “River and Water Trivia”; Nature Conservancy. “Where Does Your Water Come From?”; 40 Gallon Challenge; EPA, “Act: In and Around Your Home”; EPA, “Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality.")