A Guide To Watersheds

What is a Watershed and Why is it Important?

A watershed is a stretch of land where water from either rain or melting snow drains downhill into a large body of water like a river, lake or ocean. These basins include streams and rivers and land surfaces that water drains from. These areas are separated from other adjacent bases by something known as a drainage divide. They are important because they help prevent flooding, acting as a sort of funnel that collects all the extra water and then channels it into waterways where it belongs. Watershed management actually helps protect water from pollution because whoever is managing it can identify pollutants and start to eliminate them.

How Do You Identify a Watershed?

Identifying a watershed can be confusing. You have to construct a map called a watershed graph. This graph needs to have one marking for each watershed so you can tell which watersheds are adjacent to it. To identify individual watersheds, you have to route the flow for each cell in the terrain. Assign flow directions to the slopes on this map, identify flat areas and then assign flow directions for these. Then, once that’s done, you can determine where any adjacent watersheds are.

What Does a Watershed Partnership Do? What are Some Tips to Building Local Partnerships?

A watershed partnership is an organization that is formed with the common goal of cleaning up local waters and keeping watch over pollutants. These partnerships offer many advantages. They can develop strategies that are specific to each individual watershed, which means a significant reduction in pollution. It also allows for a more efficient use of financial resources. Partnerships are mostly formed when people decide to band together to take over a watershed. Members can be average people or even people from the media. Anyone that has a vested interest in the health of local watersheds can be included.

What are Some Problems Regarding Pollutants and Water Quality?

The most common pollutants in watersheds include motor oil, paint products, pet waste, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, litter, and sediment. These things enter the watershed when they get washed down local storm drains. All of these things can greatly pollute the water, which can in turn affect the entire ecosystem. Animals that drink and live in that area can become ill as well as people, should they happen to be getting their water from that particular source.

What is a TMDL?

TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load of pollutants. It’s basically a measurement of how high the level of pollutants that go into the water daily. Designed to ensure that all bodies of water are carefully monitored for pollutants, it’s included in the Clean Water Act in 1972. These guidelines are determined by the State where the body of water is located.

How can Protecting Watersheds Help Improve Lakes?

Protecting these watersheds is one of the best ways to go about protecting lakes from pollutants. In this day and age, it’s probably impossible to completely eliminate harmful pollutants that can cause damage to ecosystems but controlling the pollution as much as possible can go a long way. Keeping these pollutants out will ensure that, first and foremost, the animals that call lakes home will not be exposed to this contamination. This should help make sure nothing interferes with their breeding. It also keeps the lake clean for animals that use it or for fishing, as ingesting fish that are infected with pollutants can harm an animal. This is why watershed management is important.


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