By Linda Hunter
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
– Chief Seattle
We all live in a watershed. No matter if you are in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district or on a dairy farm in Contra Costa County, water trickles and gushes around you on its journey to one of the world’s greatest estuaries–the San Francisco Bay. Our lives are interconnected through our relationship with our watersheds. They are the containers for our homes, schools, and places of work. Everything we do, from mountaintop to marsh, affects the health of local water, soil, air, wildlife, our families and communities.
Take a moment to consider where your water comes from and where it goes. We are so accustomed to turning on the tap or the garden hose without thought, but have you considered where that water comes from? Melting snow from the Sierras, underground aquifers or streams and rivers all contribute to our local water supply. And where does the water go? What happens to the water when you do the dishes, take another load out of the washer or flush your toilet?
Get to know your watershed and learn the answers.
Next time it rains, put on your rubber boots and raincoat and go outside to see where the rain flows in your watershed. Is it absorbed by your yard, by tree basins, by your neighborhood park? Or, does it rush down the sidewalk and street into the gutter? Follow that gutter till you find the storm drain in your watershed. Where does it go from there?
In our urban communities, we spend a lot of time and money forcing water to flow where we want it to go– damming rivers and forcing creeks into culverts and pipes. These actions get in the way of water’s natural movement and cycle. The devastating paving over of soil, a natural sponge for rainwater, increases the strength and amount of water that must be diverted to prevent flooding. Look around your own watershed…how much of it is comprised of asphalt and cement? Rather than gurgling along on a free-flowing creek, storm water is running rampant over pavement, picking up pollutants such as trash and chemicals on its rushed journey to the Bay or ocean.
To secure the future of water resources, we humans must focus on watershed protection and restoration on the local level. The Watershed Project aims to connect global thinking to local action by empowering communities to be stewards of our neighborhood waterways.
How to get involved? Get to know your own watershed. Volunteer at a creek or native oyster restoration site. Plant native plants at a Low Impact Development demonstration site.
Find out how to bring watershed friendly environmental education to your school and become an everyday hero by stopping watershed pollution at its source.