Out West student blog

That Whole Climate Apocalypse Thing

Recording streamflow measurements on the Teanaway (photo credit: Chloe Carothers-Liske)

By Anna Greene '21
Hometown: Auburn, Alabama
Major: Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Streamflow Restoration Policy Intern, Washington Water Trust

This summer, it’s been easy to leave work or a meeting feeling hopeless. Spending every day thinking about water in Washington means I spend every day thinking about the lack of it, and the current climate crisis. I felt this sense of hopelessness a couple of days ago during a tour of project sites for hydrology-related projects in the Snohomish Watershed. Experts and stakeholders – various non-profits, tribal employees and representatives, and county and city staff - had all gathered for this project tour to talk about and envision the ways that the Snohomish Watershed could work together for streamflow restoration.

One of the project sites we viewed was a potential water storage site. This type of project is now necessary because climate change has destroyed, and continues to destroy, the earth’s natural capabilities to regulate late season water flow through snow pack. I’ve spent many hours reading about just how desperately these types of projects are needed because I am compiling a list of all relevant projects happening in the Snohomish Watershed so that funding can be prioritized appropriately. The cost and need of these projects in the context of the structural violence of ongoing capitalistic exploitation of Indigenous Peoples and lands is often difficult for me to comprehend, even as my work and my days are punctuated by the incredible beauty of the rivers and streams I have the privilege to work with.

Earlier on the project site tour, our group visited a flood plain reconnection project on the Lower Tolt River. The complexity of the river without levees is incredible – the gravel beds, side channels, and a burgeoning flood plain all creating a more nuanced beauty than altered rivers. A couple of weeks earlier, I similarly found myself in one of the most incredible places I have ever been while monitoring stream flow far from any roads in the Cascades.

Looking very happy to be measuring the hardness of the river with co-worker Emily Dick (photo credit: Chloe Carothers-Liske)

This summer, I’ve tried to work with intention so that I see the beauty that surrounds me. The urgency of our situation cannot be solved by the feeling of jumping into the freezing Teanaway River after a long day, or the views from the streams where flow has been restored in August due to aquifer recharge. However, the beauty of these moments pushes me to dig deeper into both the small projects and the big picture of facing structural climate crisis.

Checking out aquifer recharge in the Dungeness (photo credit: Emily Dick)

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