Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do Your Know Your Watershed?

If you read this blog very often, you might know we have water issues. Our bills are outrageous. I try very hard to use as little city water as possible. I never really gave storm water much thought other than being grateful that rain fills my rain barrels. All that changed today.

I spent eight hours in a watershed stewardship workshop today. So what the heck is a watershed? Is it the shed where you keep the water? Nope. Is it the outhouse? Nope, not so much. A watershed is an area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes to the same place.

This workshops was focused on the Cedar Creek Watershed. It turns out I don't actually live in that watershed. We are in the Trinity River watershed. This is confusing as the Trinity river is part of the Ceder Creek Watershed. Confused yet?

I learned a lot. Looking at charts and maps, it seems that the biggest polluters are farming and ranching operations. Guess what the pollutants are? If you guessed sediment, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides you would be right.

I also found out that compost can be bad for our watershed. If it is washed into the rivers and eventually to lakes, the nutrients can cause algae blooms and water plant overgrowth. In order to keep that compost in my garden and not washing out into the ditch, I am going to plant ornamental grasses all along the fence above the ditch. This should be pretty and functional. I just love it when being good ecologically speaking gives me an excuse to buy more plants.

Eight hours in a classroom setting is just too long for me. I felt like my head was going to explode. They covered a ton of information. If you have an opportunity to go to a workshop or lecture of this type, take advantage of it. It will change the way you think about water.

Got to give credit to Texas Agrilife Extension for putting on such a great program.


  1. Why, yes, I do! I've volunteered a few times for the local watershed council and it's amazing how large it is!

  2. Debbie .. I understand that was "information overload" with so much compacted into those hours .. but holy Moses girl !! if only it was reaching MORE people and they got the point of it all ?
    YES !! ornamental grasses .. cat tails .. mimic what you see in nature for filtering and draining the water .. I am a big fan of these techniques and I can proudly say Kingston has been employing them for a few years now .. it makes a huge impact on the whole water system.
    Congratulations girl .. you are doing a fantastic job : )

  3. Our main one is called the Cedar River Watershed. Hey we're visiting our watershed this fall--apparently they have a great educational center. After reading your post I'm twice as excited about this excursion.

  4. Bragging here--I actually understand watersheds and aqueducts really well. And NC has been dealing with water pollution for a long time.

    In our state it is about the things you listed but it's also about pig farming. All this polluting of the waters was killing a little snail that filters crud out of the streams. The snail suffocated in the muddy waters.

    This caused a decline in the snail population---which meant animals who lived by the stream suffered---this led to bird populations declining----and this led to tourist decline.

    One of NC's main resources is tourism. If we didn't clean up the waters, then we lost a lot of money.

    Money talks and now we have a ton of storm water rules and regulations in place. Farmers plant barriers of filtering plants---and they leave a wide margin between the crops and the water source.

    Builders have to build holding ponds with specialized layers to leach the impurities out of the water before it runs in to the ground waters.

    I'm so glad you ask me if I understood watershed. ;) Bravo to you for getting educated about it.

  5. Monica, Good for you. I'm on board now.

    Joy, Hopefully, we can get our communities to do the same thing.

    Curmudgeon, You will be amazed. I loved it.

    Anna, See. Who knew. Y'all can teach me a lot. There were pictures of cows standing in creeks, which is bad, very very bad. Never even thought of that before.