A River's Journey: An Interactive Story
By Anthea Hudson
This story is designed to be used with the activity A RIVER'S JOURNEY LESSON PLAN which contains the preparation and instructions necessary.
High up in the pristine mountains, snow begins to melt and trickle down to form small rivulets that make their way down to the valley below. These rivulets join up to form a creek, which meets with other creeks as it continues on its journey. As more creeks join together it becomes large enough to be called a river. The river travels many many kilometres before it eventually reaches the sea. As it makes its journey, it passes through varied scenery and land-use areas. People use its resource... and abuse it. Lets follow the voyage of this clean, clear water and see what happens.
To start with, all is well, as the river travels through wild uninhabited country.
Soon however it passes a ski resort, just closing for the season. Skiers have left litter on the ski slopes, and as the water melts and runs down, it takes some of the litter with it. (ADD LITTER)
As it winds down into the valley, we travel through a large cattle station. Cows dig up the earth on the banks as they drink, causing mud to slide into the water. (ADD MUD)
Their manure also drops into the water. (ADD COW MANURE)
Next we pass a logging operation. Sawdust blows into the water (ADD SAWDUST)
and the removal of all trees cause the sides of the banks become unstable and soil to wash down into the river when it rains. (ADD SOIL)
A tannery is around the bend, and toxic chemicals seep from here into the water. (ADD TANNERY CHEMICALS)
Ski boats buzz along the river, leaking oil into the water. (ADD OIL)
Nearby there is a camping ground in which litter is carelessly disposed of and ends up in the water. (ADD LITTER)
Someone has dumped some old rusting barrels of chemical waste on the banks in a secluded spot. They are beginning to leak, and nasty frothy chemicals seep down into the river. (ADD BARREL CHEMICALS)
A few kilometres on and we find a large piggery. Effluent ponds for their waste have been built too close to the river and revolting smelly sludge is overflowing and making its way down to the water. (ADD PIGGERY SLUDGE)
Further along we travel through wheat crops treated with chemical fertilisers and pesticides which drift down to the river. (ADD FERTILISER AND PESTICIDE)
Several houseboats motor past with happy holiday makers. Water with food scraps is let out of the kitchen sink directly into the water from one of the houseboats. (ADD SINK SCRAPS)
On another boat someone is having a shower, and shampoo passes out into the water as they wash their hair. (ADD SHAMPOO)
Yet another houseboat decides to empty its sewage tank directly into the water, instead of at the sewage pumping station and lets untreated waste flow into the river. (ADD SEWAGE)
Next we wind through a sheep station where sheep regularly leave their manure where it can easily be washed into the river. (ADD SHEEP MANURE)
Around a few more bends and we flow past a factory which is piping its effluent directly into the river. (ADD FACTORY EFFLUENT)
Not far from where this enters the river is a picnic area, where children splash in the shallow water. Careless picnickers throw their litter on the ground and it ends up in the water. (ADD LITTER)
People love to bring their dogs with them on their picnics.... but they don't all bother to pick up their droppings, which often get washed down into the river. (ADD DOG DROPPINGS)
The next few kilometres are home to various orchards, where fertilisers and pesticides are once more used, and drift or wash down to the water. (ADD FERTILISER AND PESTICIDE)
Located on the other side of the river amongst magnificent cliffs is a quarry. Sand and gravel from the operation ends up in the river. (ADD SAND AND GRAVEL)
The quarry is supplying road making materials to a new housing development not too far further down the river. Disturbed soil and builders rubble ends up in the water. (ADD SOIL AND RUBBLE)
A new shopping centre has opened to service the community. Unfortunately littering in the car park is bad and items such as plastic bags, packaging and cigarette butts get blown down to the river. (ADD SUPERMARKET LITTER)
The banks of the river by the new development are mowed regularly and lawn clippings blow into the water. (ADD LAWN CLIPPINGS)
Local people like to go fishing from the walkway that crosses the river here, but sometimes their lines break and fishing line, hooks etc. end up left in the river. (ADD FISHING LINE ETC)
Along this populated stretch of the river the algal bloom is out of control. (ADD ALGAE)
There is talk of building a reservoir nearby to service the new building development... but there is community concern about the quality of the water and how practical it would be to make it drinkable.
As lots of water has been removed from the river along its path, for irrigation and town water supplies, the salinity is also high. (ADD SALT)
Note: Depending on the age and knowledge of your students you may need to explain this point.
So, for now the river runs into the sea... taking with it all it has collected along the way. And the people wonder why their beach always seems to be so smelly and messy and have so much litter about...
I think I can guess why... can you?