editor's essay

Water, Water Everywhere

Buffalo, NY Waterfront.

Photo: Douglas Levere


Ann Whitcher Gentzke, Editor

Perusing our pages during magazine production, we discovered that several stories—without any planning on our part—are awash in the theme of water. In one way or another, these stories convey the joys of bounding over Lake Erie in a sailboat, the intensity of hightailing it up a river in a fiercely competitive race and the need to safeguard our precious natural water resources.

More specifically, in On Campus we show you the office of a Great Lakes educator, replete with a mounted Asian carp (a predator now threatening the Great Lakes) and bottled samples of the sea lamprey, indigenous to the Atlantic but now preying on freshwater fish (see Space Invaders). In Locker Room we report on the UB women’s rowing team, which trains and competes on Tonawanda Creek, a tributary of the Niagara River (see Rowing 101). Also in that section, we profile an alum who’s mentoring future mariners as part of her work with an innovative sailing school on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor (see Sailing for All).

Admittedly, these aqua motifs form only a small part of the issue. But they do bring to mind Buffalo’s position on the Great Lakes and what this strategic location means for UB research and the region’s economic growth and cultural vitality. Certainly, in a university of UB’s size, there are many examples of Great Lakes-related research. These include investigations of the effects of pharmaceuticals lurking in the water supply, restoration of the Buffalo River watershed and addressing massive algae blooms in Lake Erie, to name just a few current projects.

This topic also stirs up more personal reflections of what it means to live near a formidable natural resource containing an astonishing 20 percent of the world’s supply of fresh surface water. And how, like any chance gift at our doorstep, we tend to take for granted its power and presence in our lives. Sometimes these thoughts are more about applying the theme of water to my own life, as when I think about my father and husband who by coincidence were employed in different eras as merchant seamen traveling all five Great Lakes. More recently, my proximity to the water brought comfort when a close friend announced her move from Buffalo to Detroit. Although her new home is a four-hour drive from where I live near the Erie Canal, our continued friendship seems more likely because she is merely traveling upstream to the Detroit River and the Upper Great Lakes.

As I finish my work on this issue and we begin planning the winter 2015 edition of At Buffalo, I hope I will not soon forget these stories of water, nor lose my own sense of wonder at the Great Lakes’ rippling effects.

Ann Whitcher Gentzke, Editor