Watersheds: The Meeting Place of Life
Every person on Earth lives in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a particular body of water such as a river, lake, creek, or ocean. It is defined by the high points of the land that divide around a body of water. Connecting these high points creates a ridgeline, much like the peak of a roof. A watershed collects rain fall and funnels it into a stream or lake, just as a bathtub collects shower water and funnels it into the drain.
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. The Accotink Creek watershed contains sub-watersheds such as Flag Run. The Accotink Creek watershed is, in turn, a sub-watershed of the Potomac River watershed, which is a sub-watershed of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
So why are watersheds important? Although seventy percent of our planet is covered in water, only a tiny fraction of that is fresh water and available for our use. That fresh water is constantly in motion. Water flows across the land and evaporates into the air, becomes clouds and then rains down to flow across the land again. It is when the water flows across the land in our watersheds that it is available for our use.
What we do to the land in our watersheds determines the quantity and quality of water available for us and the environment.
When we build on the land, we prevent water from soaking into the ground and recharging our streams and lakes. Building on the land also increases runoff to the streams, causing them to erode their banks and beds. The sediment from this erosion settles in our lakes and bays and chokes the creatures that live in them.
When we pollute the land, the pollution winds up in the water and reduces the quality of the water. Filling our waters with sediment and pollutants reduces their value to us and the planet.
In all our actions we need to keep in mind the fundamental connection between the land and the water. A connection which defines the watershed.
We need your help. Can you lead interpretive programs; make signs, displays, or brochures; or coordinate special events? Give us a call, 703-569-3464! We can also help you and your group get started with adopting a stream, stenciling storm drains, monitoring streams or anything else you, our watershed partners, would like to do for the environment, your lake, your community or your neighborhood.