A watershed is an area of land that drains to a body of water such as a stream, creek, river or lake. Rain or snow that falls anywhere in that watershed eventually flows to that water body. All of us depend on our watershed for the water we use. Some rainfall seeps into the ground and is stored in underground bodies of water called aquifers. Some of the water is soaked up by plants and wetland areas. Any water that is not stored in plants or the ground becomes runoff.
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Run and get a glass of water and put it on the table next to you. Take a good long look at the water. Now – can you guess how old it is?
The water in your glass may have fallen from the sky as the rain just last week, but the water itself has been around pretty much as long as the earth has! When the Brontosaurus walked through lakes feeding on plants, your glass of water was part of those lakes. When kings and princesses, knights and squires took a drink from their wells, your glass of water was part of those wells, and you thought your parents were OLD! opens in a new window
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The storm drain system is responsible for carrying all stormwater (rain) from your watershed to local streams. The storm drain system is not connected to the wastewater system, which drains water from the plumbing of your home, school and friends house. Storm drains do not send water to a treatment facility where it is cleaned. That means the rainwater and everything it touches – from dirt, motor oil, trash, and pet waste – flows straight into creeks, streams, and local waterways.
This rainwater, or polluted runoff (people pollution), comes from things we do every day. Anything you dump or drop on the ground adds to polluted runoff. The most common pollutants result from littering. Trash like fast-food wrappers, plastic water bottles, soda cans, plastic cups, foam cups, and even pet waste can end up polluting our local waterways.
Toxic chemicals can enter the mix from leaky cars (motor oil and antifreeze) and water running off of lawns can carry pesticides and fertilizers. Even the family dog can add to water pollution if you don’t properly dispose of pet waste! Please pick up after your pet!