Even though the United States is among the largest contributors to the global warming (2nd highest emitters of CO2 per capita), you got to give it to them. They take care of their own resources very well and they really know how to own it. After the purported oil reserves in Alaska,(which many think they are going to use it once the Arab world exhausts their own fossil fuels) the well preserved nature of their water bodies, their national parks and the natural resources are the best kept open secrets.
One has to really appreciate the ownership of their resources, you have to really stand up and take notice of their conservation efforts, initiatives and how they go about implementing it, especially their water bodies.
Take a look at some of the many things they go about doing it. The designation of “National Scenic River Status” to their major rivers is something the developing nations such as India can learn from. It is part of the “The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act“. The legislation was a giant step in their conservation efforts. Its not just the legislation, its the actual implementation which really show cases that they really value them. For once, it may just looks like “Pomp and show” but they really mean it. How and when they assign this status is a topic for an another day.
Here, Once the designation to the river is assigned, what they do about the watershed management of that river is amazing. One of the first things is the placement of sign boards in many forms- historical signs, regular road signs, caution signs etc. There are numerous sign boards and these boards are placed across the entire watershed- along intersections of the roads and the rivers, smaller creeks,
the drainage points and even inside the big campuses like universities, airports and company campuses etc. What these sign boards actually does is that, it makes people aware that, “someone is out there looking after it and we better not ruin it”. Once this feeling is there in the minds the public, they dare not to pollute it blatantly. Thus, it becomes easier for the concerned authorities and the civil society to be able to go on doing their conservation business.
The signs are so attractive and you definitely cant miss them. For example, in the Little Miami River Watershed( a major contributor to the Ohio River) has numerous smaller streams and creeks which are part of the watershed has these signs written everywhere. These signs ensure that the there is a caution to everyone that their households or the community do not dump waste or any toxic chemicals directly and sets a moral responsibility of owning their water bodies.
This creation of awareness is the primary step in protection of water resources. The residents of these watershed basin is aware that, their every bit of dump is entering the nearby creek and ultimately spoils their water resources. Once that is created, taking ownership will automatically be the next logical step for the local residents and which they have taken with aplomb. These small acts of micro level conservation or to say decentralized protection should be the first level of conservation that should happen in the developing countries like India. Every corner of the street should be made aware about where their sewage drain is leading to. The awareness should be built in that way that they automatically take ownership of their sewers and ultimately reducing the sewage load on the lakes and other water bodies.
Being resource rich nation will not make you great, but utilization and conservation of them is what makes you great, that is what these local communities do and they take pride in doing so.
In the coming articles, the origins of conservation, need for the legislation, how the volunteer groups across the country are keeping their local rivers safe and clean etc will be discussed.