The Aral Sea at one time was the 4th largest inland body of water in the world! With over 26,000 square miles of surface area it was significantly larger than Lake Michigan.
Located in Central Asia, the Aral Sea was home to a thriving fishing industry with annual harvests of 50,000 tons of fish/year and priceless ecosystem services including the vast surrounding wetlands, available drinking water, local climate stabilization, wildlife habitats, etc.
This incredible resource has been reduced to a fraction of its size due to poor management practices.
In the 1960's the government thought they could turn the surrounding desert into a thriving agricultural center by using the local rivers for irrigation; it worked! The crops took off requiring more and more water to be diverted, stopping the incoming lifeblood of the lake.
The fish are now gone and the lake is only 10% of its original size. The remaining water is toxic from excess salt and minerals from the lack of incoming freshwater combined with the intense evaporation rates of the region.
The exposed lake bottom is high in salt, fertilizers and pesticides which have become air born in the dry winds. The resulting dust storms are responsible for a wide variety of health problems for the local communities, driving villagers from their ancestral homes. Drinking water is unsafe for consumption and it has even altered the weather patterns for the area intensifying all of the effects.
I don't want to be a voice of doom; I'm just describing an unfortunate environmental disaster. I want to be a voice of understanding and learning, how can we learn from this and other man-made disasters?
It all starts with an understanding and respect for our natural resources.
We are at a crossroads in our country and the policies we create today will impact future generations. My goal is to educate people about the importance of water in our environment and how it impacts our daily lives. The Aquascape Pond Squad, my weekly blog, Facebook posts, unique projects around the country, speaking engagements etc ... all of these strategies work together to make a difference, one person or one project at a time.
This week I'm doing a presentation for a local conservation organization to share my passion for water. Last week, The Pond Guy spoke to his son Blake's 6th grade class about turtles, wildlife and ponds.
Next week we go on the road to look at some incredible potential projects to share on the Aquascape Pond Squad.
Having a greater purpose and creating something that's bigger than all of us is what keeps me going! I hope that others will follow suit and use your passion as an opportunity to teach people about nature, water and the environment that we all call home.