What Are Watersheds? Discover Yours & Help Keep It Clean

What Are Watersheds? Discover Yours & Help Keep It Clean

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

Watershed. It’s a typical sufficient phrase, however are you acquainted with yours? No matter the place you reside, your private home is in a watershed. And the well being of that watershed impacts you, your group, and the remainder of the planet.

Our selections and actions can impression the land a world away. We write on paper that was made out of timber lower down a thousand miles from our houses. The veggies we eat might have grown in a distinct nation. Even the electrical energy you’re utilizing to learn this text was generated in an influence plant that’s most likely not proper subsequent door. But what about our actions that have an effect on the land instantly below our toes? You could make a number of constructive impression in your watershed, which you’ll be able to consider as your native eco-neighborhood.

What Is a Watershed?

A watershed is the land that drains right into a physique of water — land that’s hydrologically related. All our bodies of water — rivers, lakes, bays, wetlands — have an related watershed. Hills divide one watershed from the subsequent, hardly ever obeying man-made political boundaries. All land on this planet is a part of a watershed. You are positively in a watershed proper now whether or not it or not.

Watersheds are related. They’re a bit like Russian nesting dolls; massive watersheds include medium watersheds, which maintain many small watersheds. This is as a result of smaller rivers drain into bigger rivers after which into enormous rivers just like the Mississippi or the Nile. The largest rivers (which have the most important watersheds) drain into the ocean. And so the water in your watershed (irrespective of its measurement or location) finally makes it into the ocean.

Find Your Watershed

Which river or lake is closest to your private home? If it’s on the opposite facet of a giant hill, chances are you’ll not dwell in its watershed. If you reside within the United States, you’ll be able to uncover your watershed with the EPA’s How’s My Waterway tool. Click on the map and enter your handle to be directed to a map of your watershed. You’ll additionally discover info on restoration initiatives, monitoring stations, and air pollution issues.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) additionally has a watershed mapping instrument: Science in Your Watershed site. Select your area, and click on via the “Russian nesting dolls” of watersheds to get nearer and nearer to your native watershed. Once you’re as shut as you will get, click on the “Additional Information for this Watershed” hyperlink and also you’ll see publications, initiatives, and different USGS assets.

Stormwater and Polluted Watersheds

Human affect modifications the best way water cycles work. You’ll have a tough time discovering a watershed that isn’t polluted indirectly. One approach you’ll be able to assist the well being of your watershed is by lowering your contribution to stormwater.

Stormwater is the rain that drains off of arduous surfaces like your roof, driveway, and sidewalk. This water is heated by these surfaces in the summertime and picks up pollution similar to highway salt, oil, shingle flecks, and extra. Then the water goes down the storm drain. This water doesn’t undergo a water therapy plant, so all of the pollution and litter get channeled to a water physique, harming wildlife, and finally affecting the well being of related watersheds. The sudden addition of hotter water right into a water physique makes it more durable for the water to retain oxygen, lowering out there oxygen for aquatic life.

You can cut back your stormwater by putting in a rain barrel, a rain garden, or just letting your downspouts drain right into a low spot in your yard.

Stormwater runoff flowing through metal drainage culvert after heavy rain
Stormwater runoff after heavy rains channels pollution and litter from streets and sidewalks into water our bodies.

Who Is Keeping Your Watershed Clean?

If you’d prefer to get entangled in defending your watershed, there could also be a citizen motion group related together with your area. Such teams might maintain group conferences, conduct environmental schooling, monitor water high quality, and implement restoration initiatives. They usually have volunteer alternatives similar to eradicating invasive plant species, water high quality monitoring, litter cleanups, and different occasions.

An internet search ought to allow you to find your native group. You’re on the hunt for what’s taking place in your watershed to revive it and who’s doing this work. Search on “watershed” and your city’s identify, the identify of your native water physique, or the identify of your state. In addition, you’ll be able to verify together with your native soil and water conservation district or your native EPA workplace for info on any watershed-related initiatives you’ll be able to take part in.

Even if there isn’t any organized group working to scrub up your watershed, you are able to do your half. What occurs in your property does have an effect on the water high quality of your native water physique — and finally, the ocean.

More Ways You Can Help

Here are just some further methods you’ll be able to assist hold your watershed and its water physique clear:

  • Pick up litter: Rain will wash trash into storm drains, which result in rivers or lakes.
  • Collect and throw away dog waste: Pet waste isn’t a soil fertilizer and it could actually trigger dangerous algae blooms.
  • Properly keep your septic system: Septic programs that don’t do their job properly can lead to human waste moving into your river or lake!
  • Wash your automotive on the grass: This prevents soapy water from working down the storm drain; surfactants within the cleaning soap can hurt aquatic life. Better but, use a automotive wash with an environmentally responsible washing system.
  • Avoid highway salt or use it very sparingly: Salt may be very poisonous to aquatic life; think about more sustainable de-icing methods.
  • Maintain a inexperienced buffer zone alongside stream banks: Trees and different vegetation rising alongside riparian zones will hold your stream’s aquatic life more healthy, cut back erosion, and cut back flooding.
  • Don’t mow instantly adjoining to water our bodies: Mowing too near the water can lead to erosion.
  • Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use: Fertilizer runoff may cause algae blooms and pesticides can poison aquatic life, wildlife, and pets.
  • Keep your storm drain clear: Remove fallen leaves, branches, litter, and different obstructions to scale back highway flooding.
  • Join your native watershed group: Take half in occasions or financially contribute.