ROW Report: Let nature help heal our bodies and our minds

By Brianna Dines

Waterways and communications coordinator

Reconnecting to Our Waterways

Wednesday, April 22, will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a time to appreciate the life that our planet provides us and to reflect on the way we treat our home. As we persevere through the current global health crisis, let us use this time to get back to basics. What do we really need to thrive on Earth? Food, shelter – and water.

April was to be a full month of waterway and partner events, opportunities to get together and improve our waterway environments during Earth Month. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, those opportunities are uncertain now, but what is clear is that water underlies every single process on Earth, and it is a crucial part of any sustainable future for ourselves and our precious home.

Earth Day messages generally focus on things such as pollution and recycling, fossil fuels, alternative energy, public transportation and planting trees. But all these problems and solutions require water. Their use of this vital resource matters to the solutions we invest in to sustain our planet.

Water is everything Everything from growing, processing and preparing food requires water. Washing dishes and laundry, bathing, flushing our toilets requires water too. We even use water to maintain our yards.

According to, average daily indoor water use in the U.S. is around 60 gallons per person, per day. Outdoor water use can be up to 60% of total household water use as residents water lawns and wash cars. The water footprint of one hamburger is about 660 gallons and a cup of coffee 34 gallons. Energy production uses about 133 billion gallons of water per day (2015).

Eating less meat, reducing energy consumption, turning off water while you are brushing your teeth, and planting drought resistant native plants in your yard are all ways to reduce water use, preventing scarcity of our water resources in the future.

Practicing solidarity and gratitude. As we stay home and practice social distancing to maintain healthy communities, Earth may be taking some respite from the disruptions our regular human activities cause. This could be a time to spend connecting to nature, finding activities on your own or with family. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Discover the hidden worlds in your own backyard with the kids as part of their learning day and contribute to urban biodiversity data through iNaturalist (
  • Seek out open, sparsely populated outdoor spaces near our waterways to explore like the bird sanctuary in Spades Park along Pogue’s Run.
  • Pause to take a deep breath and appreciate a quiet spot along Pleasant Run at Barth Avenue or Spruce Bridge.
  • Pick up a good book and sit along the Central Canal.
  • Take your pup for a walk on the Urban Wilderness Trail along the White River.
  • Grab a trash bag and plog (jog and pick up trash) along Fall Creek.

During these trying times, nature can help heal our bodies and our souls. Our waterways can be a source for making the days pass more easily, connecting to our natural world. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Reconnecting to Our Waterways encourages everyone to take this opportunity to lift up your spirits by recharging and enjoying the beauty and wonder of our natural waterway spaces. 

Stay in the know with ROW by contacting or joining us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ourwaterways.