Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crowding the Ramapo River to Death

By Ben Reuter 

 I never knew how important the Ramapo River Valley really was or how polluted and messed with it really is. I always understood the river was a place for animals and plants to live around to gather their nutrients from, but I had no idea the river was a major water source for people in the region.
Geoff Welch’s presentation on the Ramapo River watershed unveiled to me that fact and now my idea of the Ramapo River Valley is completely changed. Yes it is still a major environment for animals and plants, but it is also a vital water source for thousands of people in the New Jersey area. Wells along the river valley are filled by the constant water flowing, as well as some water being held by dams for water consumption.
If this river is so important to the people in this area then why is it achieving higher and higher levels of pollution through the years? Is it just plain ignorance? Or is it a villainous action? I lean more towards the ignorance side, although there are specific instances where people are directly to blame for blatant pollution , I feel like people just need the knowledge of where their trash, water run-off, and other pollutants go when they get washed away during a large rainstorm.
Most of the pollution in the river is in direct relation to the amount of developed communities that are creeping closer and closer to the banks of the river. Yes building homes is great, get more people in the town, bring in more tax revenue, etc. However, what are these new developments doing to the surrounding ecosystems and wildlife?
Think of where your house is. What do you think was there before your home was built? My house is on the side of a mountain and I know that my development tore away a major defense to erosion. Because my development’s position on the mountain, we took away trees that would hold dirt from being washed down the mountain side. Now we have mud slides and major foundation problems all along the neighborhood due to yards being washed out with no reinforcement.
A similar event is taking place in the Ramapo River Valley—not with mud slides, but with the deterioration of water ways and flood plains. The closer to the river the developments get, the more flood plains and waterways are going to get paved over.
Once these streets and homes are built on a flood plain or wetlands, the more prone to water damage these areas are, as well as how more prone the wildlife in the area is to decline dramatically. The wildlife will also be affected by developments built so close because of the constant stream of pollution that we bring with us everywhere we go. Our oils and dirt from the streets wash off and into clean waterways dirtying the area, our pesticides and fertilizers for our lawns run off our property into the clean waterways poisoning the wildlife.
The Ramapo River Valley can give us so much. So much wildlife, beauty, and magic. Yet, we persist on taking more and more of nature’s area for our own and when we are done we want more. Think about that cycle. Eventually there will be no more. Then what? 

How awful will you feel when one day you read, “No More River Due to Housing”?

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