A history of potential events as chronicled by Steven Coburn-Griffis

Chapter Three

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bart Butterman winked at the camera and, through it, at the kids in Ms. Raczkowski’s 7th Grade Earth Sciences class.

“But you know me,” he said, leaning in close, “I like a good question. Even better, I love getting honest answers. So, to find out more about fresh water, what’s going on with it and how to keep it coming, we’re in Ohio. Northwest Ohio, if you want to be precise. Putting an even finer point on it, we’re on the campus of Bowling Green State University.”

The camera angle suddenly changed and the class found themselves looking down at Bart Butterman, who had thrown his arms out wide and was spinning in a circle so quickly that his patented Bart Butterman Smartt tie was flying nearly straight out from his body. His spinning gradually slowed down and as it did, the camera settled back to look square at him once again.

Bart Butterman put his hand to his head, straightened his tie and then said, “‘But why Ohio?’ you ask? Well, let me tell you. Ohio borders one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes are important sources of fresh water. Of all the fresh water there is on the surface of the planet, one-fifth of it is in the Great Lakes. And Lake Erie is important for another reason.”

While he was talking, Bart Butterman sat down at the edge of the fountain with his back to the camera and dipped his fingers in the water.

“Ahhhh,” he said. “The water’s warm. And it’s warm because it’s shallow, shallow enough so that the sun can warm it up and keep it warm during the late spring, summer and early fall months. The same is true for Lake Erie. Now I’m not saying that the lake is like this little fountain; at its deepest point, Lake Erie boasts 210 feet of water. But if you compare 210 feet to, say, 1,332 feet — that’s the deepest point in the biggest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior — then you can understand why scientists say Lake Erie really isn’t all that deep and why so many people come here for...”

Bart Butterman suddenly turned back around to face the camera and in his hands something silvery shook and jittered. He stopped shaking his hands and held up a fake rubber fish.

“The fish!” he shouted. “Because it is so shallow and warm, there are loads of fish in Lake Erie. In fact, Lake Erie is one of the world’s largest commercial freshwater fisheries. So Lake Erie is important for the fish and because it provides drinking water for quite a few cities along its shores.”

Bart Butterman stood up and brushed off his hands.

“But there have been problems, in Lake Erie and in other freshwater lakes in Ohio. Big problems with a little something called cyanobacteria, what we used to call blue-green algae.”

Bart Butterman waved everybody closer and held up his Smartt tie.

“Come on,” he said. “Have a look.”

Chapter Three questions

1. About one-third of the rivers and streams in Ohio are in the Lake Erie watershed, which means the water flowing in them flows toward and eventually empties into Lake Erie. The lower two-thirds of the state’s waterways flow south toward the Ohio River. Look at the Internet map at http://soilandwater.ohiodnr.gov/maps/watershed-drainage-basin-maps. Find your town on the map. Which of Ohio two major watersheds do you live in?

2. Bart Butterman listed several reasons why Lake Erie is so important to people. About 12 million people live in the Lake Erie watershed, which includes parts of Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Canada. The lake provides drinking water for about 11 million of these people. Bart also talked about fish. Bart also talked about Lake Erie’s fish. How many different reasons are there for fish being important to all of us?

3. Lake Erie, the shallowest Great Lake, is 210 feet deep at its deepest point. The deepest Great Lake, Lake Superior, is 1,332 feet deep at its deepest point. What is the difference in depth between the two lakes? If it were possible, how many Lake Eries could you stack on top of each other to reach the depth of Lake Superior?

Chapter Three vocabulary


fresh water