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Myth: Treat It to Beat It (Water Pollution, That Is)

NutrientPollution-EcoMyths-cartoon-web

Nutrients Gone Wild

Worried about dipping your toe in your local swimming hole? Or even drinking your tap water? Join the club. Nitrogen and phosphorus overload is fouling up lakes, rivers, and streams across the country, creating plumes of pollution that are far more sinister than their deceptively benign algal blooms moniker.

These nutrient-rich blooms are a bust for health, environmental, and economic reasons alike. While ’tis true that N and P are critical for life on Earth, signs abound that we’ve got way too much of a good thing, from rampant beach closures and clogged water intakes, to urgent PSAs along the lines of, Don’t even think about drinking that water!

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On the Air: Does Living Next to a Wetland Mean My Basement Will Flood?

This past April, when torrential rains caused some of the worst flooding in Illinois history, many people were asking “why?” Roads were flooded, homes were deluged, and favorite family destinations were too flooded to operate—such as the perpetually-open Brookfield Zoo, which closed down for only the third time in 100 years.

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Myth: Living Near Wetlands Means Flooded Basements

What wetlands are: awesome. What they aren't: the reason your flooded...

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Does Living Near a Wetland Equal Basement Floodzone?

Here’s the story, of a roomy basement…that was overflowing thanks to recent storms…Some people blamed wetlands for this hardship, but they were not at fault…

For many, the lure of suburban living is more than just the promise of big houses and bigger yards—it’s also the idea that there may be more access to natural space than in cities.

When that nearby natural area is a wetland, you get a scenic community of marsh, swamp, wet prairie, and/or sedge meadow to enjoy, plus a front-row seat to an intricate ecosystem at work—purifying and collecting water, removing pollutants, and providing a sanctuary for birds, frogs, dragonflies, turtles, and all kinds of cute little critters.

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Myth: Wetlands Are Useless to Society!

— by John Sentell of The Wetlands Initiative and James Montgomery of the Environmental Science Program, DePaul University

Shouldn’t We Just Fill in Those Pesky Wetlands?

Contrary to popular belief, wetlands provide important functions and are often called “nature’s kidneys” or “ecological supermarkets.” These important functions include storing flood water, filtering dirty water, and protecting shorelines! Wetlands also support an extensive food chain. If you like crawfish, you will find them in wetlands! Many cultures, including the Cajuns of Louisiana and various Native American tribes, have learned to live in harmony with wetlands, using them as a source of food, peat for fuel, and building materials. Wetlands may even help stabilize the climate by serving as reservoirs for excess carbon in the air.

Still believe that wetlands are wastelands?

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Myth: Wetlands Are Wastelands and Should Be Filled In

Contrary to popular belief, wetlands provide important functions and are often called “nature’s kidneys” or “ecological supermarkets.”

These important functions include storing flood water, filtering dirty water, and protecting shorelines. Wetlands also support an extensive food chain. If you like crawfish, you’ll find them in wetlands. Many cultures, including the Cajuns of Louisiana and various Native American tribes, have learned to live in harmony with wetlands, using them as a source of food, peat for fuel, and building materials. Wetlands may even help stabilize the climate by serving as reservoirs for excess carbon in the air.

So, do you still believe that wetlands are wastelands? Then read on.