Green Lakes and Pratts Falls

At my school, geology is a vastly different subject than environmental engineering. It is a subject that I still have a lot to learn about. Aside from a small fossil collection that has mostly transferred into my algae covered fish tank, I couldn’t tell you much about geology. What I can tell you is that I went to visit the scenic Green Lakes and Pratts Falls on Independence Day weekend. The trail involved a .5 mile hike to Pratts falls. Once there, you can stand across from the falls or stand on a bridge that goes over the top. Like many others, Pratts Falls has been reinforced to prevent any more rock from falling away or receding and to preserve its state.

Green Lakes, on the other hand, involves a lot more history than it lets on. It is even the center of a few scientific studies. The lake is meromictic. This means that after it was created by a melting glacier the water on the top and bottom of the lake did not mix like a normal lake. Instead, the material on the bottom became denser and void of oxygen, which is a prime condition for calcium but not for plants or animals. Fossils survive best in those conditions. The water is very cold and crystal clear-the cerulean blue of the surface is because it is so deep and certain frequencies of light require certain depths. It’s also amazing to swim here when there isn’t a large crowd.




Walk in the Park

So I found out about this blog by an environmental educator in New York State called walkinpark. He had the most modern and clever idea to create minute long clips of each park that he’s been to in New York State. I thought, for the people who can’t get to see all of the falls that are hidden in parts of New York State, this is a great way to explore without actually having to go out and explore. Plus it’s only a minute long, and with my attention span that’s on the dot! If you’re ever wanting to adventure around the various water falls in New York, check out the link.buttermilk falls

Drink What You Read

The drinkable book is a handy little book with pages that are filled with tiny silver particles. The silver mixed with the paper creates a filter that will eliminate the risk of diarrheal illnesses that thrive in murky, contaminated water. I think these removable filter pages serve a great purpose- they bring both education and essential pure water to children in developing countries. Each page has two filters that clean 99.9% (that’s known as a log 3 kill) of bacteria for up to 100 liters of water. The product is still being tested, but the good news is that the students and professors who researched the project are working with a company to help make the product affordable for use abroad!

Killer Whales


All adult male Orcas in captivity have flopped dorsal fins. This is a result of a poor diet, a lack of space to roam, and mistreatment.

This is not on the topic of clean water, but rather, a species of animal that survives in open saltwater, and has faced many troubles because of human impact. This came into my thoughts with the recent Seaworld commercial. How are the lies that these trainers are reciting even legal to state in a commercial? One only has to watch the Blackfish documentary about Killer whales in captivity to know that whales have suffered extreme abuse at parks like Seaworld and are known to become extremely dangerous to trainers due to built up aggression. In the commercial, unconvincing trainers say that their Killer whales live just as long as wild Killer Whales. The truth is that Seaworld’s Killer whales live, on average, around 15 years. Wild Orcas live up to 80 years. Sure, captive Orcas should be able to survive as stated in the commercial, but as far as history shows, whale parks are not known for providing longevity for whales or any quality of life. Many are stillborn, die in infancy, or die young. My emotions on this topic are inconsolable. This website accounts for all documented injuries of trainers or park visitors committed by captured Orcas:

If you haven’t seen Blackfish, it’s on Netflix. Please watch. Trailer:

Access to survival rates of Killer whales here:

Amherst State Park and Glen Falls

amherst state parkYou can follow the alluring Ellicott Creek all the way to Niagara River. What isn’t so alluring about Ellicott Creek is the dangerous turbidity of the water. It is used in our labs at SUNY UB frequently as a contaminated water source. Although not nearly as polluted as Onondaga Lake, Ellicott Creek faces frequent sewage overflow due to heavy rain and snow in the Buffalo area, which mixes groundwater with sewage from old and cracked pipes underground.

bpa pollutionellicott creek

I grew up running around the picturesque Amherst State Park as well as the little picnic area near Glen Falls. There is a cute little diner called the Red Mill, which used to harvest the hydraulic power for turning a mill but has since lost its popularity. The water may not be fully recovered from constant bad luck, nevertheless, it won’t stop the ducks or the turkey vultures or the couples taking wedding pictures. It’s important to conserve wildlife no matter the condition.


The Lifestraw

Scientists are always coming up with complicated solutions to small problems. So what if we simplified the water problem by using something so basic the answer has been right under our noses the whole time? The answer I’m talking about is The Lifestraw. Invented and produced in 2005, field tested in 2009, and funded and transported throughout developing countries, is a simple straw that looks like a small tube with a filter inside. It has a log 6 kill factor- in other words, it kills around 99.9999% of bacteria in contaminated water. Although that number is extremely high, solutions for contaminated water must be in the high 90’s range, otherwise just a few bacteria can replicate and once again create unsafe water.

The personal lifestraw is about 20$ plus shipping. It has a lot of pros, but it also has a few cons, like any other product on the market. Chemicals, viruses, and saltwater won’t be removed with this filtering straw. However, you are way better off with one than without one. It wipes out most bacterium that cause diarrheal illnesses as well as parasites. It’s also easy to tote around. You can even wear it as a necklace.

Reviewer Nathalie Rothschild bashed the invention on an online European magazine site. The writer opposed the widespread use of the lifestraw by saying that it is degrading, you can’t bring the water with you, it’s too small, it’s too expensive, it doesn’t solve the water crisis, etc. She went on to insult the company that developed this, as well as charities and hard working engineers who went to great lengths to create and distribute the product. Looking through the comments, I found a popular response that explained in just a short paragraph what water-related technologies are all about.

“Seriously flawed logic here. So because tap water cannot be brought to everyone in Africa RIGHT NOW we should not address the need for clean drinking water with any stop gap solutions? Pretty sure this product has saved lives in the field while this author (Rothschild) would have them die of thirst waiting for their Brita filtered sink to be installed. Man, I haven’t encountered this much stupidity in a while on the Internet. And the Internet is big and stupid.”

While large water issues globally can’t be solved immediately, it’s worth the lives saved to come up with solid temporary solutions and pray that the government eventually takes over and starts to help people. You can’t save the world- but you can start by saving someone.