|Water, Water, Is It Everywhere?|
A watershed, or basin, is a piece of land in which all water eventually flows to a common outlet. Thatís the dry definition, but what does it mean to you? While watersheds vary in size and shape, the key is that every bit of land on earth is contained within a huge network of interconnecting watersheds.
To find the boundaries of your watershed, youíll need a map that shows contour lines. Contour lines trace the rising elevations of land. Mountains appear as a bunch of ever-increasing circles. Valleys are the lowlands that usually contain streams. Find your location and identify the highest points of surrounding land. Connect the dots and thereís your local watershed.
Since water flows downhill, you can now trace the path of a drop of water that falls anywhere within your watershed boundaries. You and your neighbors depend on all the land above for clean water and all the land below depends on you. Does this knowledge alarm you or does it challenge you to be more concerned about the quality of your water? Contaminated or clean, itís your choice.
In the 1960ís growing awareness of the need to control water pollution led to the passing of the national Clean Water Act of 1972. This law made it illegal to dump wastes into waters of the US without a permit and set water quality standards. There are water quality standards for various water uses. For example, some water is ok to swim in but not to drink.
Natural processes as well as human activities can affect water quality. The season, climate, soil type and plants species can affect water quality. Some of the human activities that can harm water quality include discharge of wastes from sewage plants, business, and agriculture and stormwater runoff from residential areas. All of these activities, however, can be improved to meet water quality standards.
In the West/Williams/Saxton River Basin of southeastern Vermont, the basin planning process has brought together federal, state, and local agencies, towns, non-profit organizations, businesses and interested residents to develop plans for managing our natural resources. This in-depth planning process creates councils and focus groups to contribute to the resource plans.
Public meetings were held throughout the watershed. Nonprofit groups like the West River Watershed Alliance help to educate participants about the basin planning process and water quality issues. Watershed Councils form from the public meetings and serve to prioritize these problems and opportunities. The Council also works to foster community understanding and implementation of the basin management plan.
Focus Groups are assigned to address specific watershed issues and prioritize projects for improving water quality. In the West/Williams/Saxton River Basin, outreach on septic system maintenance, stormwater control and barnyard improvements are planned. These groups also make recommendations to and review the Basin Management Plan, which is drafted to meet the State basin planning criteria and will be reviewed every five years.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 06 October 2007 )|
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