Melting snow, April rain. With Earth Day this month, take the opportunity to know your H2O and check out Northern Michigan water literacy activities with an article originally published in the April 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

The recipe goes something like this: take a bit of roadside grime and a pair of shoes. Add a soggy dog. Mix with multiple pairs of mud-encrusted kids’ jeans. Let stand for one hour and grind into carpet. Repeat daily for one month. Voilà, the scent of April—in my house, anyway! But instead of dreading or escaping April and its mud-tinged scent, I like to celebrate it. Because April is wet. And wet is water. And as any Up-Norther knows, water is life.

Let’s honor the H2O by first considering the make-up of the world’s water supply: get a five-gallon bucket and fill it with water. This full bucket now represents all the water in the world. Take out two cups of water and dump into a separate bowl. What remains in the bucket is all the water in the oceans, and what’s in the bowl is all of the freshwater on Earth. Now take out 1 1/3 cups from the bowl—this is freshwater locked up in icecaps and glaciers. So, that leaves 2/3 cup of water in the bowl, which represents all the freshwater on Earth. Now, take out 1/4 teaspoon. What’s left in the bowl is deep ground water, and that tiny 1/4 teaspoon of water is all the lakes, streams and rivers on Earth, aka, our world supply of usable, surface freshwater.

When you’re in the tip of Michigan’s mitt, you’re smack dab in the middle of the world’s best water—plentiful, clear and most important, fresh. Go ahead, hold up your left hand and picture yourself standing on the knuckle near the tip of your middle finger. Surrounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, you’d also have more than 50 inland lakes and 14 rivers within your reach. How lucky are we to have the best water in the world so close at hand?

The more you know your Northern Michigan water, the more you will be willing to work to protect it. With Earth Day this month, check these local water literacy activities, and adapt them to your own hometown if you aren’t near Harbor Springs.

Local Literacy Challenge

Make a commitment to upping your Up North literacy and connect to your place—learn, experience, and steward something new each and every month. Here are some watery options for April.

KNOW … your Northern Michigan water source

When you get a drink, where does your water come from? In Harbor Springs on Little Traverse Bay, taste natural spring water (piped up from underground spring) at the Zorn Park drinking fountain, located next to City Beach. Or drink “city water” (piped from one of four underground wells) from any faucet in town.

GO … to a watershed divide

How is rainfall connected to the watershed? Head to Petoskey State Park on Little Traverse Bay and climb Mt. Baldy for a 360-degree view (when the leaves are down!) of two watersheds. A raindrop falling on the east side lands in the Cheboygan River watershed that drains to Lake Huron. A raindrop falling on the west side lands in the Little Traverse Bay watershed that drains to Lake Michigan.

ACT … to protect your Northern Michigan water

How can you protect what you love? When it rains on Main Street in Harbor Springs, the stormwater goes into one of many storm drains connected to pipes that empty into Little Traverse Bay. If you see a drain clogged with litter or sediment, take a minute and clean it out. This simple act, that takes less than 60 seconds, makes a difference to our big lake.

Learn more about simple actions you can take to protect the North’s freshwater:
• The Watershed Center: Grand Traverse Bay
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

More Northern Michigan Environmental Preservation

#2016 #Emmet_County #Harbor_Springs #Petoskey #Up_North #Live_Here #Give_Back

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown