WHAT EARTH DAY MEANS TO ME
Jason Menchhofer. FY 2014-15 Board Chair. WasteWater Education 501(c)3
Earth Day is a time to reflect on the importance of taking care of the many valuable natural resources which are found all around us.
For me, one of the most valuable natural resources has always been water.
In my profession as a local health department sanitarian, I help to protect surface water and ground water from pollution by enforcing regulations to ensure that household sewage treatment systems remove contaminants from wastewater before releasing the treated water into the environment. Local health department sanitarians also help to ensure that public swimming pools are operated in a way that provides bathers from illnesses which can be transmitted through contaminated water during recreational use.
I like to think that my work as an environmental health professional has a positive impact on the lives of the people I serve, but my interest in water actually began long before I realized the very real connection between water and public health.
When I was five or six years old, an older lady who lived three doors down from my family in our quiet, small town neighborhood took me to a local park with a large pond. On the bank of that pond, she taught me how to thread a worm onto a hook tied to the end of a piece of fishing line which was attached to a cane pole.
I learned to swing my line out into the water and wait patiently, to experience the thrill of watching a red and white bobber sink several inches below the surface of the water as an energetic bluegill took my bait. Although I caught several fish on that first fishing excursion, I soon found out that I was the one who was hooked! Over thirty years have passed since that first fishing experience, and many of my most fond memories have been made on the water. From the bank of a small farm pond, to a boat in a lake somewhere in Ohio, Michigan or Kentucky, to the middle of Lake Erie, I have shared countless enjoyable experiences that formed unbreakable bonds with friends, my father, my cousins, my daughters and my wife.
There is something very special to me about spending time on the water watching and listening to all of the sights and sounds which accompany a beautiful sunrise or sunset, whether I am relaxing alone or sharing the moment with a friend or loved one. Often this experience goes beyond the fishing excursion itself, as I participate in the circle of life by providing food for myself and my family as a result of a successful day on the water. It’s good for my kids to know this connection, as too many young people today seem to lack awareness of where their food comes from, and that they are capable of providing good food for themselves without having to buy it at a store.
The common thread running through all of the thrilling, relaxing and learning moments I’ve experienced while fishing over the years is clean water. Clean water is not only necessary to our survival as humans on this earth, but it can add a great deal of enjoyment to our lives in so many ways. Whether you enjoy fishing, boating, swimming or marveling at a sunset while taking a walk along the lake shore with a loved one, let Earth Day be a reminder to be sure that you do all you can do every day to protect what just might be the most valuable of all natural resources- water.
Do you want to learn more about protecting our valuable water resources? Visit the Wastewater Education website at www.wastewatereducation.org. Wastewater Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness that water quality is directly linked to the use of appropriate wastewater treatment systems and their management.