By Cassi Steenblok, Pittsburgh Program Organizer
As Memorial Day draws near I can’t help but think of summer and all the fun and exciting things I want to do now that the days are getting longer and warmer. For me summer has always revolved around water.
I grew up in upstate New York close to two of the Great Lakes, and even closer to the smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region of the state. I have many fond memories from my childhood swimming, fishing, and canoeing in the lakes, rivers, and streams that were within walking distance from my house. Then when I graduated college I packed up my life and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island is fondly known as the “Ocean State” and is full of beautiful coastlines and amazing beaches. I would often spend those hot summer days in Rhode Island at the beach to get out of the city and enjoy the water. Providence was also where I first started working for Clean Water Action, to protect that coastline I value so much.
A year ago I packed up my life again and moved to Pittsburgh to continue my Clean Water journey as a Program Coordinator in Western Pennsylvania. It was almost summer when I moved to the “Three Rivers” city and I was hopeful to again spend my summers close to the water. But what I found in Pittsburgh was not what I expected. I knew there are not going to be any ocean beaches to relax at on a hot day, but surely there must be some places to swim. Unfortunately, many of the rivers and streams in Pittsburgh are not swimmable or fishable. So where does everyone go to cool off? I was told the closest thing to a beach in Pittsburgh is Sandcastle Water Park. And while it is incredibly fun to spend the day on water slides and in the wave poll, it’s just not the same.
Regardless of where we live, all our waterways should be offered the same protection. Within the past twelve years we have lost of the safeguards for many of the small streams and wetlands similar to the ones I played in as a child. These are the waterways that lead to our rivers and oceans. If they aren’t clean and safe then our larger waterways will not be either. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restore protections to these precious streams and wetlands is so important.
This Memorial Day I’ll be off to Rhode Island for my first visit in a year. You better believe that I’ll be spending my time at the beaches that I miss so much. But I’ll also be treasuring that clean water and thinking about how important it is to protect all of America’s waterways. How about you? Click here to take action!