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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Protecting our watersheds

Robert Lawton CC BY-SA 2.5
Wikimedia Commons
American-style storm water drain

The pollution and contamination of our watersheds is an issue that concerns northern Illinois water professionals. These experts have devoted their lives to safeguarding the quality and quantity of this precious resource. The threat of agricultural contamination warrants a sacrifice of their time and political support to preserve and restore the ecology of our aquatic ecosystems.

The fertilization processes of commercial agriculture cause a phenomenon called eutrophication. Water runoff carries excess nitrogen and sediment concentrated with phosphorus, which enriches aquatic ecosystems. These nutrients make their way through creeks and rivers into the Gulf of Mexico, where algae absorb them and grow at unnatural rates. The organisms that feed on the algae cannot keep up with the proliferation. When the algae die, decomposer microorganisms deplete the oxygen in the water -- the ecosystem is harmed and aquatic life cannot survive.

A thriving midwestern farming economy damages the fishing economies of the Gulf of Mexico – that’s a tricky predicament to remediate. But in our culture of overwork with little time for hobbies and pastimes, water professionals are devoting their spare time to helping their hardworking neighbors in local, state, and federal governments. They would urge the general population to get informed and have a voice. When it comes to safeguarding our surface and aquifer waters, a water professional trusts in policy enforcement and would urge you to get out and VOTE!

On behalf of Waterworlds Water Professionals research group, I’m River Lee, and that’s our Perspective.

River Lee delivered the essay written by his research project group for ENVS 420 — Waterworlds at Northern Illinois University.