lives downstream from you and your actions determine the quality
of their water. Even if you don't live on a river or even live close
to a river you can impact the water quality of many people living
far away. You are in the same boat though. You live downstream from
someone who can impact your water quality. Everyone using water
has to monitor what they might be introducing into a water body.
Why? Because fences and property lines do not determine the biological
boundaries of our land--watersheds do.
is a Watershed?
land that carries the water you use to a water body is called a
watershed. A watershed is also known as a drainage basin because
it is land that allows water to drain to marshes, streams, rivers,
lakes, or to ground water. A watershed not only carries water. It
can also carry pollutants. We have to pay attention to what is going
on in the watershed, and identify potential sources for pollutants
that might be contributing to that watershed. Knowing the potential
sources of pollutants, the different land uses and practices playing
out within a watershed, gives everyone a "heads up" on
what pollutants to watch for. Got a lot of agricultural land in
your watershed? Expect nutrients from fertilizers. Industrial development?
Expect chemicals. Residential areas? Expect nutrients, sediment,
and household chemicals.
quality problems aren't only defined by the borders of a watershed.
Economic and political boundaries also shape the problem.
vary in size. As the size of the watershed increases, so do
the number of potential pollutant sources, and the number of
competing solutions. For example, the Mississippi river watershed
drains 40% of the entire United States.
massive watershed can be broken down into several large watersheds,
which can be broken down into smaller watersheds, scaling all
the way down to areas that may be just a few square miles in
narrowing the scope of a problem, its easier to zero in
on the threats to an individual water body, and to trace the
sources of those threats.
watersheds, like the creek or stream running through your town,
are just as important as bigger watersheds. In fact they are
more important because acting locally helps solve the problems
in your watershed and the larger watersheds it resides within.
the local level you can monitor, cleanup, and restore rivers
streams, wetlands, lakes, ground water, and estuaries and make
a big difference. If everyone reduced the pollution that was
infiltrating a stream on the local level you wouldn't have to
worry about what pollution is coming downstream to you and the
people downstream from you wouldn't have to worry about your
pollution, there wouldn't be any!
Did you know you
your watershed? Well, you can web surf at least. Locate
area that catches rain or snow and drains to specific
marshes, streams, rivers, lakes, or to ground water.