Americans take much in their lives for granted, especially when it comes to resources that we use, consume and sometimes abuse. Perhaps the most overlooked and underrated of those resources is water. In these parts, it's abundant and, when we take care of it, of high quality. Sometimes we forget we use water for far more than just drinking, cooking and washing. We swim in it, float on it, catch fish from it, wash stuff with it, grow things with it, wash things away with it, transport goods over it and use it to manufacture things we use every day. Sometimes we just like to look at it, listen to it or toss handfuls of it on ourselves to refresh us.
Important as it for so many things, we struggle to protect the surface watersheds and groundwater recharge areas from which we draw it. What's more, we let it runoff our fields, roads and parking lots too fast with too many nasty things in it. Our region is not immune from these challenges nor the apathy and ignorance that complicate them. But those in Blair County responsible for overseeing our water resources have taken steps and made real progress in reversing some of those trends.
The Altoona Water Authority's Source Water Protection Committee brings together a number of environmental professionals and dedicated volunteers to address the problems and work together to figure out regulatory challenges. The committee is led by the Altoona Water Authority, but the work done by the group goes far beyond the authority's reservoirs and treatment plants.