Your local watershed

During my time in this environmental investigations class I learned a number of new things such as the growth of wildlife in the river, the river’s powerful history and even how our local sewers impact the health and quality of our waterways.

One of the things that my not-so-science-brained self learned this semester was that I’ve lived in a “watershed” for the entirety of my life and never realized it until a college class.

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes a watershed as, “…a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays, and the ocean.”

Since I’ve grown up near the Cuyahoga river, I do in fact live in its watershed, meaning the land I live on moves all the water and runoff back to the river, which eventually runs back into places like Lake Erie.

Obviously living in a watershed is a pretty big deal in the environmental world, considering that the human impacts can be harmful as the ground and storm waters can pick up all the junk and pollutants caused by humans within our watersheds.

Even though we’re not slurping water straight from the Cuyahoga, we are enjoying it through recreation and so are our critter friends. So it really does matter what flows into it.

So maybe you don’t live near one of the Great Lakes or the Cuyahoga. Maybe you live in the desert. That can’t be considered a watershed, right?

Well actually, everyone lives in a watershed no matter where they live. They might just look a little different. The Mississippi river watershed is obviously going to appear a bit different than the Colorado river watershed.

So now that you know you live in some watershed or another, why does it matter?

For one thing, these bodies of water you live near are major natural resources for you and the community.

The Nature Conservancy reminds us that our natural water systems supply communities with things like drinking water, agriculture water, manufacturing production and even our favorite water-based activities.

Those aren’t exactly things you want to have involving dirty water.

So what can you do to help your local watershed?

The Natural Conservancy also shared some ways you can do that, thanks to the EPA:

  • Cut down on your water usage
  • Don’t pour chemicals down your drains
  • RECYCLE!! 
  • Try composting
  • Avoid fertilizers (try out an organic one)

These are just a few of the ways you can make a positive impact on your watershed. Since we all live in and depend on them, I think it’s time we also start appreciating them a little more.

*Feature photo taken from: K. Musser, Creative Commons, (



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