At left: Burgess Falls. Photo by Chuck Sutherland.
Naturally, chlorine is only found in combination with other elements, chiefly potassium. It also has a variety of anthropogenic uses, from wastewater treatment to road deicing, and runoff from industrial sources and roads can be contaminated with chlorine compounds. When chlorine compounds, especially from deicing, reach local waterways, there is a long-term storage effect of the chemicals, which leads to serious issues in the ecosystem.
There are many animals and plants in ecosystems that formed symbiotic relationships with bacteria long ago, which have now become essential to their survival. As a known antiseptic, chlorine can harm the microbiota of organisms that live in streams and lakes. These salts also increase the salinity of aquatic ecosystems, which throws the delicate balance of osmosis and diffusion in cells out of balance. Many organisms simply cannot function in these conditions.
Once chlorine is present in an ecosystem, it can take many years of clean conditions to flush the contamination out of the environment completely. Below are some ways to ensure chlorine will not enter your local waterways:
How To Help (And Who Can Help You)1. Manage your pool.2. Allow for natural growth near waterways.3. Limit impervious surfaces.4. Plant a rain garden.5. Plan for a better future.6. Contact your representatives.7. Support your local watershed stewards.8. Spread the word.
Ready To Make A Difference?Pledge to do one or more of these mitigation activities!