Why I want to #ProtectCleanWater - My Childhood Creek
By Angela Bagnasco, Central Texas Outreach Coordinator For much of my childhood, in Waco Texas, I grew up with a creek behind my house. That creek is the center of many of my memories and is one of many Texas creeks that is denied protections under the current interpretation of the Clean Water Act. Growing up, my siblings and I would put on rubber wading boots, take a net off a hook in our garage, and trample down the hill behind our house. Our feet met the earth abruptly and we leaned back to keep our balance as we traipsed down the slope. We would head for the banks of a segment of creek we knew held lots of life. We would catch minnows, crawfish, tadpoles, and frogs. Some would make it into a fish tank in our house, many we let go.
The creek was the center of our games of Cowboy and Indian where my brothers usually ran around making forts and pretending to see dangers and I often sat by our blue plastic teepee, gathering natural artifacts and trying to channel native wisdom. Having nature as our play space and the creek at the center fueled our creativity and taught us about the rhythm of nature. We knew as children that sometimes the creek was running water and sometimes it was stagnant. After being stagnant for a few months in the summer it would turn into a deep mud puddle at the deepest part of our segment of stream, and at the end of the summer much of the creek would be completely dry. This was natural and we knew that our creek would run again in the fall. We knew that the fish would come back. We also knew that our creek was not an isolated segment. Sometimes, especially when it was dry, we would walk along it as it wound through the neighborhood. Perhaps a mile down, it met the river. I am glad that no company dumped crude oil into my section of creek as was done in the Edwards Creek in Titus County Texas. In that case, no one is paying a fine! What will happen when that dry creek runs again? The filth will spread. It will affect even more wildlife as it goes further downstream. Then, it will make its way into someone’s drinking water source. Texas has so many small creeks that are dry for part of the year! We stand to lose a lot if the Clean Water Act is not restored to its original intention. It was created to protect ALL waters of the United States. Right now, my creek in Waco Texas is not considered a water of the United States. There is no logic behind this. It is simply polluters wanting an alternative location to dump their toxic waste for free. I have memories of raising ducklings and watching as they had their first gleeful experience with water in my creek. I have memories of scouring dry limestone creeks for fossils and finding shells and other sea organisms locked in stone. I have memories of swimming in the rivers that these creeks feed into. Texas creeks are for wildlife, fishing, swimming, child’s play, and water catchment for our drinking water supplies. They are not for dumping. Texans, and everyone else, let’s band together to make sure our creeks are protected.