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Teri Barnett, Class of 2001


Dear Reader:

Why did I write The Clean Water Act In Crooked Creek?  I have two little girls named Kayle and Lexi.  Kayle, the eldest at five years old, has always loved to hear my imaginative stories about dinosaurs, monsters, princesses, and wild animals.  When my environmental law class was given a choice between critiquing an environmental impact statement (EIS) and writing a creative story on an environmental law, I originally chose the environmental impact statement.  After reviewing the EIS I had chosen, I changed my mind and decided to do something creative and hopefully more fun.  The idea for a children’s story about the Clean Water Act came to me during an environmental law class.  We were discussing a hypothetical about the Clean Water Act and the impact of wastes in the water when I thought, “I wonder how animals feel about all that waste.”  After that, everything fell into place.  I would write a story about the Clean Water Act from the animals’ point of view and I would write it like one of the stories I tell my daughter Kayle.  I tried the first version of my story on Kayle and she loved it!  Once I put it all together, I felt good about being able to teach Kayle, and hopefully other children, about our waters and how important laws such as the Clean Water Act are in protecting our waters and the environment.

Teri Barnett

I. Crooked Creek

Once upon a time, in a place far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, was a beautiful place called Crooked Creek.  Crooked Creek was a clearing in a patch of woods that was just right.  The woods were full of big trees to keep cool under, soft grass to lay down on, and a crystal clear babbling creek that first zigged, then zagged through this beautiful patch of woods.  That is why the animals that live there call it Crooked Creek.

One beautiful day, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Crooked Creek was babbling.  Into the clearing hopped a little gray bunny rabbit.  He was rather small and cute.  He had a small pink nose, little gray ears that stood up straight, and light gray fur all over except for his white furry chest and white puffy tail.  He hopped over to Crooked Creek to take a sip of water.  Suddenly there was a “YEEUCK!”  All the birds stopped singing and looked around.  The other animals froze then looked to see who had made that terrible noise.  They saw Bunny hopping around and spit something on the ground: “PTTT”, “PTTT.”  He stopped, looked around at all the eyes watching him and said, “There’s something wrong with the water!”  When no animals answered, he yelled again, “I said there is something wrong with the water!  It tastes weird!”  The other animals were used to Bunny’s exaggerations and said nothing, so Bunny said, “Never mind!” and he hopped away.

Later that day a pretty small deer stepped daintily up to Crooked Creek for a drink of  cool water.  After delicately sipping the water the deer hurriedly backed away and stared at the water.  She looked around and quietly asked, “Excuse me, does anyone know what is wrong with the water?”  At first no animals answered, then a little voice piped up, “Well, Deer, I tried to drink some today but it was too awful.”  Deer looked down to see a chipmunk, “Chipmunk, do you know what is wrong with it?”  Chipmunk just shrugged and said, “No, but maybe it will go away.”  Then he scampered away.  Deer looked longingly at the water then slowly walked away.

The next day when Deer came back to Crooked Creek she saw several animals gathered near the water.  They all turned toward her and watched as she approached them.  Deer asked, “What are you doing?”  In answer there came a yell, “Ha!  I knew it!  There is something wrong with the water!  I was right!  I knew it!”  Bunny came hopping toward the small group of animals and asked, “I knew I was right.  So what are we going to do?”  No one answered because this had never happened before and no one knew what to do.  Then Raccoon had an idea, “Why don’t we ask Fox?  He’s wise and knows lots of smart things.”  All the other animals perked up at his idea and as one they turned toward a huge old log at the edge of the clearing.

They found Fox sleeping in the log.  When they called his name, Fox sat up, stretched, and swished his bushy foxtail.  He yawned, “AAAHHH,” and asked, “well, what have we here?”   Deer asked, “Fox, could you help us figure out what’s wrong with the water?”  Bunny hopped forward and said, “Yeah, what’s wrong with the water?  I mean yesterday it tasted bad but today is even worse!  I almost passed out!  We gotta do something, Fox!  How are we gonna get water?  I’ve been thirsty since yesterday!  What are we gonna do, huh?  Huh, Fox?”

With his eyes nearly crossed, Fox replied, “Okay, Bunny, settle down.  No need to get excited.  Let’s handle this rationally.  First things first.  I have noticed the rather malodorous stench permeating the air above the water and I must confess that I was surprised to find a noxious taste to our usually pristine Crooked Creek.  With that said, how may I assist you today?”

The other animals stood in stunned silence.  Chipmunk finally asked, “What’s a mal-or-for-us?”  Fox sighed and rephrased his statement, “The water stinks and tastes bad.  What do you want?”  Raccoon stepped closer and said, “Well, we were hoping you would help us figure out what to do.  Everyone is thirsty and the water is rotten.  We don’t know how to fix it.”  Fox thought for a moment then replied, “Let me think about this problem for a while.  Why don’t you meet me at Crooked Creek near sunset?  I’ll have something for you then.”  The other animals nodded then wandered away.  Bunny gave Fox a big smile then hopped away.  Everyone was relieved that Fox would help them, they were confident that with Fox’s help they could fix Crooked Creek.

II.  The Committee

When sunset came all the animals of Crooked Creek met at the clearing.  Fox approached the group and sat in the center of the circle.  All the animals faced him hopefully. Fox said, “Well I think we should first choose a committee.”

Bunny hopped up and down and asked, “A committee for what, Fox?  What will the committee do?  Can I be on the committee, Fox?  Huh, Fox?”

Fox looked at Bunny and said, “Well, Bunny, we need a committee to investigate the problem.  If you will let me, I will choose the committee members.  Of course, the committee members will then elect a chairperson.”  Fox waited a moment then asked, “Does everyone agree with this course of action?”  There was a general “Yes” from the animals.  Fox nodded and then said, “I think Deer, Raccoon, and yes, I see you Bunny, you may be on the committee.  I think I should also be on the committee and I think we need one more -  how about you, Chipmunk?”  Chipmunk shook his head and said, “I wish I could, Fox, but we just had babies.  I need to help collect food for them.”

Suddenly a little voice piped up, “How about me?  May I please be on the committee?”  Everyone looked around.  They finally saw tiny little Mouse on a tree stump.  Fox said, “Of course, Mouse.  Thank you for volunteering.  Now, how about electing a leader?”

Raccoon replied, “Fox, I think you should be our leader since you know what to do.”  Bunny hopped up and down and said, “Yeah, Fox, you should be our leader.  You know everything.  You are so smart.  How come you’re so smart?”

Fox told Bunny, “Well, before I was a country Fox, I was a city Fox.  I used to live in the big city when I was much younger.”

Bunny was very excited to hear this, since he had heard about the big city.  Bunny jumped up on the stump next to Mouse and said, “Wow, the big city!  What’d you do there, Fox?  How’d you get there?  What was it like?  Can I go there one day, do ya think?”

Fox said, “Well, Bunny, it was quite nice, but I think the country is much better for you.  Why don’t we talk about it later?  Right now I think we should concentrate on this problem of ours, okay?  Raccoon, I am honored by your faith in me.  I would be delighted to be your chairperson, thank you.  Congratulations, you are now officially the Crooked Creek Committee of Concerned Animals for Clean Water.”

“Huh?” said Bunny.

Fox said, “You are now officially the Committee.” 

“Ohhhhh,” said Bunny.

Fox went on, “Now, the first thing we must do is plan our course of action.  I think we should follow Crooked Creek upstream and see if we can find out why the water has gone bad.  If we can find the source of the problem, then maybe we can rectify it.”

“We can what it, Fox?” asked Bunny.

“Rectify means to fix the problem, Bunny.  We want to fix the problem so we can have our pristine Crooked Creek back again,” answered Fox.  He looked around at the group and asked seriously, “Do you agree with this plan?”  All the animals vigorously nodded their heads.

Fox said, “Good, then let’s meet here tomorrow morning to walk upstream.  I will see you tomorrow.  Make sure you rest tonight.”  Fox left and all the other committee members went to their nests and dens to rest for the following day.

The next day, the committee gathered at the clearing shortly after sunrise.  They were rested and feeling excited about their mission.  Bunny was hopping around happily, he couldn’t seem to stay still.  Raccoon was pacing back and forth restlessly.  Mouse was swaying back and forth.  Why, even Deer was feeling excited.  When Fox arrived, the committee animals were jittery with excitement and anxious to start.  He looked at them a moment then said, “Deer, could Mouse ride on your back?  He might not be able to keep up with us.  How about you, Bunny, think you can keep up with us?”

Bunny yelled, “Yes, yes, yes!  I can keep up, Fox!  I know I can!  Let’s go!”  Then Bunny hopped around the clearing three times, tripped on a twig, and took a nosedive into a tree.

Fox closed his eyes for a moment to pray for patience, then opened them and asked, “Are you alright, Bunny?”  Bunny happily nodded his dented head.  Then Fox said, “Okay then, if you are ready let’s go.  I will go first and I want Raccoon to bring up the rear.  Bunny, you follow me, and Deer, you follow Bunny, okay?  Let’s go.”  They all set off in single file with Mouse riding on Deer’s back.  All the other animals in the clearing cheered them on and wished them good luck.

They walked almost all morning.  After what seemed like a long time, but was actually quite short, they came to a place that smelled quite awful.  Fox stopped abruptly, causing Bunny to bump into him.  Fox turned around and said, “Okay, everyone, be quiet now.  I need to do a little reconnoitering, I will be right back.”

Bunny asked, “Uh, Fox, what is re-kin-odor?”  Fox replied, “It means to investigate or check things out.  Now stay still and, Bunny, try to be quiet.”  Fox crept off into the bushes near the creek.  Mouse suddenly ran over and huddled against Deer’s ears because the bad smell had spooked him.  Deer said, “It’s okay, Mouse.  Everything will be okay.  You’ll see.”  Mouse only nodded and huddled closer.

III.  The Clean Water Act

When Fox came back the other animals were so glad to see him they almost ran over him.  When the dust settled, Fox said, “Well, it’s safe to go in.  Why don’t you follow me and I will show you what the problem is.”

Fox walked toward the creek and said, “There’s nothing to be scared about.  There’s nobody here.  Follow me.”  The others followed him, but when they came out at the bank of the creek they saw nothing there.  They looked in the water but saw nothing.  As one they turned to Fox and Deer asked, “Where is it?”

Fox nodded toward a strange black thing sticking out above the creek.  The other animals looked at it for a moment.  They saw the strange thing was black and round and that it was spilling something icky into the creek water.  Then Raccoon asked Fox, “What is it?”

Fox said, “Well it looks to me like a pipe.  And it seems to be discharging some sort of pollutant into our creek.  That makes it a point source.  It really is a shame that our precious Crooked Creek would be fouled by pollutants way out here in the country, so far from the big city.”

The other animals stood in confused silence.  Finally, Raccoon cleared his throat and asked, “What did you say?”

Fox realized he had confused the others.  He smiled his fox smile and gently explained to the others, “Well you see, the Humans have this law called the Clean Water Act.  It is supposed to protect all the waters we have.  See, the Humans haven’t learned how to live in harmony with nature like we animals, so they have to create laws to try to diminish the harm they do to nature.  The Clean Water Act limits what humans can put into our water.  It is supposed to work to keep our water clean enough to fish and swim in.  Actually, I think it has helped somewhat, but it has not been one hundred percent effective.”

The other animals were fascinated.  Raccoon asked, “Can you tell us more, Fox?”

As Deer, and Mouse nodded, Bunny asked, “Yeah, tell us more, Fox.  What’s a pol-u-tint?”

Fox said, “A pollutant is any waste that changes the quality of the water.”

Bunny said, “Hey, Fox, how do you know so much?  I want to know more, but how do you know so much, huh Fox?”

Fox said, “Well, Bunny, remember I told you I used to live in the big city?  When I was a pup my mother was killed.  I was fortunate, since I was rescued by an environmentalist.  She raised me and when she thought I could survive on my own she returned me to the country.”

Bunny asked, “What’s a in-vi-ron-metalist?”  Fox said, “An environmentalist is a person who cares very much what happens to nature.  Some people call them tree-huggers, I’m not sure why.”  All the other animals said, “Ohhhhh.”  Deer told the others, “I saw one of those once.  She was walking around and being very careful not to disturb any of us.  She seemed to care very much about Crooked Creek and all of our friends there.  So your tree-hugger saved you, Fox?”

Fox said, “Yes, and while I lived with her, I learned a lot about how the Humans perceive nature and how they try to interact with nature.  My environmentalist was very active.  She read aloud to me and that’s how I know so much, Bunny.”

Mouse spoke up then, “Tree-huggers sound very nice.  Please, Fox, tell us more about the Clean Water Act.”

Fox settled himself on a soft patch of grass and after the other animals settled down to get comfortable, he said, “Okay.  Well, the Clean Water Act serves as a tool to keep track of what humans are putting into the water.  The Humans use this tool to try to keep the water clean.  You see, all the waters in the land are called Navigable Waters.  This includes rivers, lakes, creeks like ours, ponds, even wetlands.  The Clean Water Act assigns standards for water pollution and keeps track of all point source dischargers of pollutants.”

“What’s that disk-charg-ors?” asked Bunny.

Fox explained, “If a human wants to discharge, which means to put any pollutants into the water, that human must first obtain a permit.  This pertains to any point source that discharges into navigable waters.  A point source is any discernable discrete conveyance, from which pollutants are discharged.”

“What’s a dis-urn-baloo whatever?” asked Bunny.

“It can be almost anything.  It can be a pipe, like this one, a pump, a hose, a channel, a well, a spray, or anything that discharges pollutants into the water,” Fox answered.

Raccoon asked, “But why do they have to put things into the water at all?”

Fox said, “They just do. The Humans make a lot of things we don’t need, so they have a lot of waste.  They put this waste into the water to get rid of it.  But under the Clean Water Act the humans must list the type of waste or pollutant they are discharging into the water.  This way the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the group of humans in charge of the Clean Water Act, can keep track of the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters, regulate the humans who are discharging it, and help protect the waters to keep them clean.”

“Every human has to do this?” asked Deer.  Fox replied, “If I remember correctly any human who discharges pollutants into navigable waters from a point source must obtain a permit.  But I think it is impossible to regulate all discharges, so the Environmental Protection Agency is more concerned with the most dangerous toxic pollutants.  They have a list of priority toxics, which they concentrate on.”

“What about the ones that don’t have permits?” asked Mouse.  Fox answered, “The only humans who don’t have to obtain a permit are those that discharge pollutants into navigable waters through non-point sources.  They call it agriculture but I think they mean farmers.  Farmers are mostly exempt from the Clean Water Act, which doesn’t make much sense since agriculture is the biggest problem for polluting the water.  My environmentalist said that agriculture is the largest source of undesirable discharges into navigable waters.”

Deer was fascinated by this glimpse into human behavior, but was confused about the agriculture exemption.  She asked, “Why are they exempt if they are the biggest problem?”

Fox said, “Well, it may have something to do with the fact that their discharge doesn’t come from a point source.  They call this a non-point source.  There is no pipe or channel or conveyance.  Their discharge leaks into the ground then combines with groundwater or runs into the nearest body of water after a storm.  It is hard to pinpoint this type of discharge so they aren’t regulated very much.”

Bunny asked, “But if the Humans want to save the water why are they letting others put pollutants in the water to make it dirty?”

Fox replied, “The Humans are too numerous for them not to have any wastes, Bunny.  The Clean Water Act is meant to help control the discharge of pollutants and the quality of navigable waters through the permitting process so that the Environmental Protection Agency can try to protect our water.  This is a difficult task because not everyone follows the rules.  Even with those following the rules, there are still discharges of pollutants into our water.  But the Humans are trying to find other ways of fixing this problem.”

“What other ways?” asked Deer.  Fox said, “Well their goal is to have all the waters fishable and swimmable, have no discharges of pollutants, no toxics in toxic amounts, and to control non-point sources of pollution.  They set water quality standards that everyone must obtain. They are also trying to create new ways to dispose of wastes and pollutants.  They have a lot of very interesting names for these ways of dealing with wastes, like BPT, BAT, or BADT.  I’m not sure how helpful these methods are.”

Mouse asked, “What’s a water quality standard?”

“Well, these are standards set for acceptable levels of pollution in the water.  These standards tell the humans how clean their water should be so they can try harder,” replied Fox.

“What are we going to do, Fox?” asked Deer.  “If this is a point source, there might be a human that has a permit to dump this icky stuff into our precious Crooked Creek.  How will we fix our creek?”

Fox answered, “Well, if this is a point source with a permit there might not be much we can do.  But if there is no permit, maybe we can bring attention to it and have it shut down.”

Bunny asked, “How will we do that, Fox?  I mean how do we know who to get?  We’re just country animals.  We don’t know any tree-huggers to fight for us.  How will we find somebody?  What will we do?  Huh, Fox?”

“Well, Bunny,” replied Fox, “What we can do is draw someone out here who will recognize this point source and care enough to investigate whether it should be discharging pollutants into Crooked Creek.  As animals there isn’t anything else we can do.  We might also try stopping the discharge ourselves.  What do you think?”

Raccoon said, “I think Beaver would help us block up that pipe.  But what if it doesn’t work?  We might not get clean water ever again.  Maybe we should try both plans just in case.”

“Good idea, Raccoon,” said Fox.  “Let’s split up.  Deer and I will go try to find a human who cares and you and Bunny will try to recruit Beaver.  Mouse, why don’t you come with us?”

Mouse nodded and climbed onto Deer’s back.  Raccoon and Bunny nodded, then scampered and hopped away to find Beaver.  Fox, Deer, and Mouse hurried away to find a human who cared.

IV.  Beaver Saves the Day

Raccoon and Bunny hurried back to Crooked Creek as fast as they could.  When they got back they rested for a moment, then started looking for Beaver.  They looked everywhere but couldn’t find Beaver.  When they were almost ready to give up, they heard a loud splash and saw Beaver swimming toward them.  Beaver said, “A little bird told me you were looking for me.”

Bunny hopped up and down and yelled, “Yes, Yes, Yes!  Where have you been?  We looked all over for you!”  Raccoon shook his head at Bunny and asked Beaver very nicely, “Beaver, would you please help us try to fix Crooked Creek so we may have clean water again?”

Beaver was very relieved to hear there might be a way to fix the water.  He spent a lot of time in the water and was very unhappy with the smell and taste of it.  He told Raccoon and Bunny, “Yes, I will help you.  What did you have in mind?”

Raccoon told him about the point-source, “Well, we found a point-source upstream.  It is discharging a pollutant into our Crooked Creek.  We want to figure out a way to stop it.  You are good at building things.  Can you think of something to build to stop it?”

Beaver thought for a moment then he said, “Well, I must see this point-source you are talking about.  Then I can tell you what we should build.  Let’s go look at it.”

Raccoon, Bunny, and Beaver started walking upstream to the point-source.

When they got back Fox, Deer, and Mouse were not there.  Beaver looked at the point-source closely.  He studied it from every angle, but he was careful not to touch the pollutant.  He said to Raccoon and Bunny, “I see what you mean about this problem.  It is rather nasty stuff we’re dealing with here.  How could anyone dump this foul stuff into our beautiful Crooked Creek?”  Raccoon just shook his head and said, “It is amazing what the Humans will do to nature.  Fox explained the whole thing to us, but I still don’t understand those Humans.”

Bunny hopped up and down, “Well, Fox said they’re not as smart as us.  They don’t know how to live with nature.  They don’t know how not to mess things up.”  He hopped around some more and said, “But he said they’re trying and trying, so I guess they’re not so bad after all.”

Beaver finally nodded and said, “Okay, I think I know how to fix this.”  Raccoon and bunny were very excited to hear this.  They inched closer as Beaver explained his plan.  “This point-source is not very big and the discharge is not gushing, it is more like a slow flow.  We can get something in there that might block the flow.  I think we can build a little dam right there inside the opening.  See that?”

Raccoon and Bunny looked at the round opening where Beaver was pointing.  “That opening can be packed with my special dam-building mixture.  I make it myself and it is rather effective.  It is made of mud, leaves, twigs, and the occasional rock.  Sometimes I put moss in it if I need a really tight fix.  I think I will make my special dam-building mixture and pack it in there.  What do you think?”

Raccoon and Bunny were so happy Beaver had found a way to stop the point-source from discharging more pollutants into their precious Crooked Creek.  They eagerly nodded and Raccoon said, “Oh yes, whatever you think Beaver.  How can we help?  We can carry stuff for you.  Just tell us how to help.”

Beaver said, “Okay then.  Raccoon, can you go get me some small twigs and some leaves, a lot of leaves?  Bunny, can you get some soft moss?  I will make the mud and find rocks.  When you get back we will fix this point-source.”

Raccoon scampered away to find twigs and leaves.  Bunny hopped away to look for moss.  And Beaver started digging for mud.  When he had made a big pile of mud he added some small rocks he had found in the water.  Raccoon soon came back with lots of twigs and leaves.  He put them in a pile near the mud.  Bunny came hopping back with a lot of soft moss.  Beaver was happy to make his special dam-building mixture.  He put mud, twigs, leaves, moss, and a few rocks together into a big gooey ball.  Then he said, “Okay now, let’s pack it in.”  All three animals grabbed some of the mixture and packed it into the point-source.  They packed and packed and packed until all the special dam-building mixture was gone.  Then Beaver got more mud and packed it on top of the mixture.  He stood back to look at his masterpiece.  “Yep, that’s gonna work.  See how nothing is coming out?  I think it will hold for awhile.  We’ll have to keep checking on it.”

Suddenly they heard a loud commotion coming through the woods.  The startled animals looked up to see Fox and Deer running quickly towards them.  Mouse was barely holding onto Deer’s neck.  Fox shouted, “Quick – hide!  Someone is coming!”  All the animals scrambled into the bushes and hid.

V.  A Human Who Cares

Out of the trees came a human.  He was walking toward the creek.  He stopped suddenly when he saw the point-source.  He approached it and looked at the special dam-building mixture packed into the opening.  Then he looked around at the bushes and trees.  The animals ducked even lower so he couldn’t see them.  The human then went to the creek and looked closely at it.  He removed something from his backpack that looked like a tube.

As the human was doing something to the water with the tube, Fox leaned forward to get a closer look at him.  Suddenly Fox sat up straighter and swished his tail.  He turned to whisper to the others, “Look at that!  See his backpack?  The emblem on it says EPA.  That means he is from the Environmental Protection Agency.  He’s here to test the water.  Now he’ll see that the water is polluted and maybe he will stop the humans who own this point-source.”

Raccoon said, “Uh Fox?  We sort of fixed the point-source already.”  Fox looked at the pipe and saw it had been stopped.  He said, “Oh dear, what if he tests the water and doesn’t find pollution because you fixed the point-source?  Then he will go away.”

Deer said, “Oh no.  What should we do?  Shouldn’t we tell him or something?”

Fox said, “Yes, but humans don’t understand animals.  We will have to fix this ourselves.  Let’s make a plan.  Raccoon, you and Beaver creep to the top where the point-source is.  Deer and I will distract the human.  When he is not looking, you take the packed stuff out of the point-source.  That way the pollutant will come out and the human will find it in the water.”

Beaver objected, “But that’s my special dam-building mixture and we did a really good job!”

Fox replied, “Yes, I know you did.  Your special mixture worked great.  After the human is gone we will help you make more special mixture.  But right now we have to show him the pollutant.  Okay?  Everyone ready?  Let’s go!”

Beaver and Raccoon crept toward the point-source.  When they were at the top, Fox and Deer ran out of the bushes and pushed the human into the water!  He dropped his tube and came up sputtering.  When he sat up and saw Fox and Deer looking at him, he got the funniest expression on his face.  He grabbed his tube and stood up.  He said, “Well, how do you do?”  Fox and Deer just blinked at him.

The human said, “What do you want?  Is there something I can help you with?”  When he received no response,  he came out of the creek.  As he approached them, Fox and Deer backed away.  The human followed them.  When he was away from the creek but still watching Fox and Deer, Raccoon and Beaver crept forward and started digging out the special dam-building mixture.  They dug and dug until the pollutant was coming out again.  Then they crept back into the bushes.  Meanwhile, the human was still in a staring contest with Fox and Deer.  Suddenly he laughed and said, “Okay you win.”  He turned around to get more water for his tube and saw the pollutant coming from the pipe.

 “What have we here?”  He stepped closer and studied the pollutant.  Then he bent over and collected some water from directly beneath the point-source.  They had done it!  They had drawn his attention!  The animals were ecstatic!  They just knew it would get better.  When the human turned around again, he didn’t see Fox or Deer.  But he knew they were there somewhere in the bushes.  He smiled and called out, “Thank you!”  Then he took his water sample and his backpack and hiked away.

Fox, Deer, Mouse, Raccoon, Bunny, and Beaver all came out of the bushes.  They danced around and jumped up and down and rolled on the ground and laughed and laughed.  They were so happy.  They had done it!  They had helped Crooked Creek.

Finally, Fox sat up and said, “Well, you are a great committee.  You really did a great job.  You should be very proud of yourselves.  Now let’s help Beaver make his special dam-building mixture again so we can fix the point-source again.  After that we can all go home.”

And that’s exactly what they did.  They fixed the point-source with Beaver’s special dam-building mixture then they all went home to Crooked Creek.

IV.  A Happy Ending

When the committee returned to Crooked Creek they were greeted by all the other animals that lived there.  They received a lot of glad hellos and anxious questions.  Fox announced, “Let’s get into a circle and we will tell you what happened.”  All the animals formed a circle and listened attentively while Fox, Deer, Raccoon, Mouse, Bunny, and Beaver told them every detail of their successful mission.

When they were finished with their story there was a long thoughtful silence.  Then Chipmunk asked, “Do you think that human who cares will stop that point source from discharging pollutants into our Crooked Creek?”

Fox thought about that for a moment and said, “Well, we hope he will find the discharge of pollutant is wrong and shut that point source down.  But remember that humans can obtain a permit that lets them discharge pollutants into water.  If the human who owns that point source gets a permit then he will be allowed to pollute our creek.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense.  Why would that Environmental Protection Agency give that human a permit to pollute our clean water?  We have the highest standard, why would they make it dirtier?” asked Chipmunk.

Fox replied, “That’s what humans do, Chipmunk.  They try to keep the water clean but sometimes their needs get in the way of their goals.  Some humans may feel that water that is only a little bit polluted is okay as long as it is within the set water quality standards.  I believe they are trying to change this attitude and are trying to get rid of all pollution, but it will be a slow process.”

“The Humans need to learn how to live with nature like us, huh Fox?” asked Bunny.

Fox answered, “Yes, Bunny, the Humans need to learn how to live with nature.  I do think they are trying, so there’s hope for us yet.”

Chipmunk asked, “Fox, do you think that Clean Water Act works?  I mean do you think the water is getting cleaner?”

Fox slowly said, “Well, Chipmunk, I think it is effective overall.  My environmentalist said that the water all over used to be really polluted, that some places had flammable water.”

“What’s that?” asked Bunny.

“That means that the water had so many toxic pollutants that it could burn,” replied Fox.

There was a loud gasp from the animals.  They were afraid of fire and didn’t know that water could burn.  The mere thought of burning water amazed them.

Fox continued, “But after the Clean Water Act was passed, the water got much cleaner.  A lot of places are fishable and swimmable now.  Overall, the act has helped when it comes to point sources, so it has been effective.  However, non-point sources are still a big problem.  Hopefully the Humans will find a way to include farmers in the Clean Water Act.  If not, then perhaps they will find other ways to prevent pollutants from non-point sources from entering our waters.”

“I think the Humans’ goal of clean water is a very good goal.  But they won’t ever have clean water like Crooked Creek if they keep giving permits to humans to discharge pollutants into the water.  I think they should just decide not to put anything at all into the water.  That way the water will get even cleaner.  Don’t they know how precious water is?” asked Deer.

None of the animals had an answer to her question.  Water was very precious to them and they couldn’t imagine taking it for granted.

Then Chipmunk asked, “What if this point source starts leaking again?”

Beaver answered, “Then we will stop it again with my special dam-building mixture.”  All the animals cheered at this because they were very impressed with Beaver’s special dam-building mixture.

Fox smiled his fox smile at Beaver and said, “Yes, we will keep an eye on that point source and make sure it doesn’t start leaking again.  Hopefully the human who cares will shut it down, but just in case he doesn’t, we must be vigilant.”

“Veg-a-what?” asked Bunny.

“Vigilant means watchful, Bunny.  We must always be watchful and ready to protect our precious Crooked Creek,” said Fox.  “In the meantime, why don’t we celebrate our successful mission?”

And that’s exactly what they did.  They all ran to Crooked Creek and jumped in.  They splashed and swam and laughed and played, and were all grateful for their once again clean and precious Crooked Creek.