How does one actually celebrate World Water Day? It’s not like other holidays with parades, family reunions, games, or special dinners. I’ve seen lots of articles for the day that has been broadcast all over the internet, and a couple suggestions on what to do. I decided on a shorter-than-usual shower and an informative blog post. (By the way, short shower means under 8 minutes in the realm of environmental engineering as this is the average time people spend under the shower head. If 8 is more than your normal, keep doing you!)
Above is a picture of a Great Lakes fish, the Bluegill. This semester I signed up for a weekly class on Great Lakes Ecology. The class is taught by two people, one angler and one woman who used to work at a fishery. Recently we learned about zebra mussels – an invasive species from Eastern Europe and Russia that gained access to the Great Lakes by getting caught in ships’ ballast water. These small mollusks filter up to a liter of water a day in order to find and eat minuscule plankton. This has become a big issue where I live, near Lake Erie, because zebra mussels are taking food away from small fish. Small forage fish are necessary to feed the big fish (ex. Bluegill), which in turn feed the birds, and even bigger fish. You get the picture. But what does this have to do with water treatment?
As I mentioned, zebra mussels filter water to get their food. This has resulted in clearer water in the Great Lakes. Although mussels are a nuisance to drinking water treatment plants because they clog the intake valves, if someone were to isolate mussels and use them in a closed system, they have the potential to be a great biological filter. When I got to thinking about mussels for water filtration, I wondered what other natural biological filters exist?
Some plants that filter water include water poppies, water lilies, irises, golden cannas, waterweed, bulrushes, and tape grass. Animals that filter water include sponges, baleen whales, flamingos, and fish. You can read a previous post I wrote about using algae-eating fish to clean water here. This article lists some plants people can use in their ponds to keep the water clean, and this article lists filter-feeding animals.
Bio-film is such a big issue in water filtration because contaminants will build up in the screens faster than we can clean them. I wonder how this whale keeps his filter spotless? Someone’s got to ask him!
What did you do for World Water Day? Comment below! Love, The Earth Goddess ❤