Telling the story

Telling the story

Most attempts to introduce citizens and legislators to water pollution are loaded with jargon and overly technical. Most people don’t even think of “nutrients” as bad for you.

Lee Ann volunteered to show the human side of water pollution by shooting and producing a video, “Who Will Care for the Appoquinimink?” a watershed in New Castle County, Delaware. She talked to homeowners, a farmer, a biology teacher and a mayor rather than scientists and bureaucrats. The purpose of the video was to introduce citizens in the area to Appoquinimink water quality standards, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).

Rather than focus on technical terms such as nutrient loading, impervious cover and bioswales, Lee Ann showed where the pollution comes from and what people in the Appoquinimink watershed are doing about it.  She also zoomed out from the charts and graphs – which were still included briefly in the video – to depict the beauty and culture of the area.  “Who Will Care for the Appoquinimink?” was shown at a public meeting when the pollution control strategy for the watershed was rolled out.  It is also embedded on the home page of the Appoquiminink River Association.

Often, scientists think their work is being ‘dumbed down’ if it is translated into concepts lay people can relate to. But how else will citizens grow to care about an environmental issue unless they and their families can understand it? They won’t be moved by chemistry.

– Lee Ann Walling


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