By The Watershed Project staff
Kick off the new school year by establishing some new watershed-friendly habits. Here are some activities to share with your children, students, friends, and neighbors for appreciating and protecting our watersheds.
Watersheds are quite complicated systems, especially urban watersheds, where the movement of water through natural features of the landscape such as creeks, rivers, marshes, and bays is interrupted by buildings, streets, bridges, levees, and storm drains. This video provides an excellent brief overview of how a watershed functions. The Watershed In Your Hand activity helps children (and adults) visualize the movement of water through a watershed and gets them thinking about how pollutants might enter the water and where they travel afterwards.
Mapping Your Watershed has students explore maps of their school’s watershed. This in-depth look at the topography of watersheds requires a good set of maps. Fortunately, the Bay Area is well-supplied with a series of beautiful and well-researched watershed maps published by the Oakland Museum. These maps can be purchased from The Oakland Museum or The Watershed Project. Many are also available in pdf form or as GIS files.
September is typically the hottest month in the Bay Area and families and students may enjoy the Exploring Runoff activity since it features observations of water on different surfaces. After many months of dry weather it can be hard to remember how rainwater creates puddles on streets, carves out gullies on trails, and soaks into lawns and other vegetated areas. Seasonal flooding due to improper drainage systems is a constant in some neighborhoods. Even slight differences in elevation and drainage can result in a house that floods every year being next to a house that never floods. If you live in a house that regularly floods, you can reduce flooding risk to your property by installing rainwater catchment systems to capture runoff from your roof. Combining a rain barrel with a rain garden is a great way to create beauty and provide habitat for butterflies, bees, and birds while mitigating flooding risk.