Our land and waterways are intricately connected through Earth's water cycle. Rain and snow are formed when water evaporates from oceans and lakes, collecting in the atmosphere. When this precipitation falls on the land, that water makes its way back to rivers, lakes, and the ocean. As it moves, water carries dirt and soil along for the ride.
What we do on land effects the quality of water regardless of where we live. Fertilizers, pesticides, motor oils, chemical cleaners, and poorly treated sewage are some of the pollutants included in land runoff. These contaminants stay in the water cycle, even sometimes becoming part of future rain and snow.
To protect our oceans and planet, more commitment is needed from all of us, not just from people who live by the coast. There is a lot of ocean conservation work being done in areas like California, Florida, and the East Coast. But there isn't much focus on the ocean in places that are far inland, like Minnesota. While many Midwesterners have visited the beach on family vacations, we aren't aware of all the ways our lives are linked to the ocean - even when we're hundreds of miles away!
Understanding our place in the water cycle gives us a greater appreciation for the beauty of beaches and waterfronts. It also helps us see how we can contribute to conservation efforts and play a positive role in the interlinked World Ocean system.