Lancaster Conservancy's third annual Lancaster Water Week starts on Saturday and will feature close to 30 family friendly events held throughout Lancaster County.
Water Week 2019 kicks off with participants planting trees by streams on Saturday morning and ends at a party featuring music, food and specially made beer at Rock Lititz on Saturday, June 8.
The week of action is an effort to provide a holistic understanding of what can contribute to the pollution load and what everyone can do to reduce their footprint, said Fritz Schroeder, the Conservancy’s director of marketing and development.
The county's farmers usually get blamed for the water pollution. Although around 60% of the pollution - nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment - generally comes from the agricultural industry, 40% is caused by the impact of the overall population, he said.
Everyone can do their part to reduce pollution that threatens 1,500 miles of rivers and streams throughout the county, Schroeder said.
"We're all the cause and we're all the solution," he said.
Water Week was conceived locally and the effort in Lancaster County is unique, Schroeder said.
"I'm not aware of any other community that is mobilizing so many events and people for one week," he said.
Since the Lancaster County focused week started three years ago, it has grown in the number of partners who sponsor the event, Allyson Gibson, Lancaster Clean Water Partners coordinator, said.
Lancaster Clean Water Partners works with a cross-sector group of experts who are striving towards the goal of clean and clear water throughout Lancaster County. Members are in business, municipal public service, higher education, conservation planning, nonprofit management as well as other sectors, Gibson said in an email.
This year, 28 sponsors have partnered with the Conservancy, Schroeder said.
The Lancaster County Community Foundation has been a sponsor of Water Week from the beginning, said Sam Bressi, the foundation’s president and CEO.
"(The Conservancy)have done an absolutely fantastic job of elevating the issue of clean water," said Bressi. He said the organization’s focus on education and community is very important.
Likewise, Kathryn Sandoe, chief commercial officer at Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, believes that everyone needs to do their part to ensure a healthier environment and that this annual week is an initiative that can get the community closer to that goal.
"LCSWMA is proud to sponsor water week, because we believe that protecting the environment contributes to a sustainable community," she said in an email.
Pollutants to the environment come in many forms, said Schroeder.
Oil and gasoline from vehicles, pet waste, salt and chemicals that are put on walkways during the winter and chemicals used on lawns are just some of the pollutants that can wash into streams and rivers, he said.
"That's where we're trying to make the connection with all local residents," he said.
The key to getting the general public active is to find out why people should care, Gibson said.
Creating a habitat - the main action plan for the 2019 week - is targeted to connect to the general public.
"If you're planting native plants - whether they're herbaceous or woody plants - and you are a birder, you're going to get more birds," said Schroeder. "If you tear up lawn and you plant more native plants, you're reducing lawn, you're creating better gardens around your home and you're absorbing more stormwater."
"And you're saving money - you're not spending it on gas and maintaining your lawn mower," said Gibson.
The events throughout Water Week are designed to give action steps on a countywide scale, she said.
Gibson said the events are a way for everyone to ask, "what do I do to protect water?"