Changes in environment affect us all that enjoy the outdoors in one way or another. Whether you like to head out for a slow troll in the evening in your pontoon or you're trying to figure out what the walleyes are doing on the Cedar River, water levels will be a factor. The main thing that effects water levels of course is precipitation. In recent years though some change in the way our inland waterways handle the run-off makes me ask the question; what effect are we having on water shed patterns?
Growing up in the Cedar Valley it seemed like the pattern was subtle. When we would get an inch of rain fifteen years ago the river didn't fluctuate as much or become as muddy. In recent years it doesn't take much to send the river up or make it virtually unfishable. I understand the need for good drainage in many situations. From the farm to the city controlling water is a big factor in quality of life.
Let's start on the farm. Controlling moisture here is probably one of the most crucial. As more and more land is converted from wetland to farmland both water and sediment are put on the fast track. When wetlands are lost most will also put in tile to keep water from pooling again. That takes an area that used to slow water down and makes it do just the opposite. Once the field is established keeping the proper balance is also crucial and often encourages water downstream. Even small ponds can make a big difference in how fast water goes from land to our streams and rivers. In town drainage is important for many reasons. From trying to keep moisture out of our basements to simply keeping water off the streets in a heavy rain.
It seems at times, however, we forget about where it goes. It's all on such a fast path that it makes flash flooding much more common. Now I'm not saying halt all progress that we make in life and as a society. Finding a balance with nature in as many areas as possible will become increasingly important in years to come. It seems ironic to me that we continue to do everything we can to get water away only to find that those floods we used to call hundred year events are becoming more of an every ten year event. As a whole our society needs to move water away almost as much as we need it to survive. Unfortunately we can't just solve one problem and forget about the circumstances. So often in life solving one problem only creates others.