Why Watersheds? An introduction to the whys and hows of water resource protection. Center for Watershed Protection

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1 Why Watersheds? An introduction to the whys and hows of water resource protection

2 In This Presentation Why Watersheds Matter What Is a Watershed Impacts of Impervious Cover What Your Community Can Do What YOU Can Do The Center for Watershed Protection s logo can be found throughout the presentation. Click on it to view glossary terms and additional resources related to the current slide.

3 Why should watersheds matter to me?! While folks may not always realize it, they place a high value on healthy watersheds

4 Healthy The trees, watersheds wildlife Watershed and We open love to canoe, hike mean space better were water certainly Planning quality and big helps camp along the river downstream. factors in our I to care decision reduce about every to chance we get. our pick river, this lakes lot. citizen We and didn t Retired Mechanic coasts mind paying - and I drainage vote. a little more to Despite live closer what to you nature. Protecting my watershed Naturalist complaints and will might think, it actually help ensure the health Lawyer helps maintain of my costs less to develop our property land for many crops to come. in a watershed tax friendly base. Small Farm Owner manner. Elected Official Clean water, trees and Homebuilder open space contribute to Streams It There It s all Watershed great flows health are Are to of cool live Many planning the next to is a the quality of life and help downstream, greenway, environment because indispensable Why I can where so has for I can keeping bike our without catch and shaped Reasons drinking relax frogs healthy many after Watershed water and.. a. long safe day. planning is attract business and Watershed regulations and pure tourists. watersheds, Protecting Computer world for stuff. future events. the cheapest form of Watersheds increase Consultant my our flood you generations. property insurance we Local Businessman can t watersheds History value. Grandmother catch Major big is fish. 1st gradercan Streams get, and are it a helps great Captain important Matter Homeowner of fishing because protect troller place it public to teach our helps to save infrastructure, natural youth about the like areas that everyone bridges, natural utilities world and can enjoy. roads. around them. Middle School Student City High Engineer School Principal

5 Watershed Management Can Prevent Problems Like These: Pesticides Found in Local Wells Managing microbes from urban watersheds can be a daunting task, as bacteria are usually present in high concentrations during storms, come from many different sources, and follow many complex pathways to reach receiving waters. Farmland: A Vanishing Legacy Managing microbes from urban watersheds can be a daunting task, as bacteria are usually When it comes to bacteria, most watershed managers have more questions than answers. Can a beach, shellfish or drinking water really be maintained in the present in high concentrations during storms, face of watershed growth? Some of the answers to these difficult questions come from many different sources, and follow depend on many complex watershed factors, such as the density of development, many complex pathways to reach receiving method sewage disposal, bacteria sources, actual water uses and weather waters. conditions. The review concludes that current Given that watershed managers are increasingly asked to control microbes, stormwater practices, stream In a recent buffers survey andreleased this by article the Environmental seeks to present Protection a more coherent Agency framework Harvesting for how bacteria can be source controls have ascientists modest potential found antoalarming managed decrease in in urban the number watersheds, of trout. and then One of applies the the general model to four specific reduce fecal coliform least levels, understood but cannot consequences watershed of urban types. growth The implications is the gradual for bacteria but management in each watershed reduce them far Even enough a toseemingly meet water inevitable quality loss of type human are uses reviewed of surface in detail, waters. with a Even strong a emphasis on the prevention and standards in most urban small settings. amount It isofalso watershed development treatment of can new lead bacteria to almost sources. continuous The last section presents a six-step argued that current watershed practices have process to detect existing urban bacteria sources, as well Banned violations of bacteria standards for drinking, swimming, shellfish as a review of even less capability harvesting to remove orpros recreation in during practices wet weather, that can and eliminate often during or treat dry weather these sources. Communities across the nation are finding that stormwater. as well. The bacteria management model distinguishes two broad kinds of human uses: consumption as in drinking water and shellfish harvesting their water and resources contact such are as degrading in response to swimming and other forms of water contact recreation. growth and development. The model also They are also discovering evaluates use impairments in four kinds of watersheds, that they based can on their only density protect these local water and primary wastewater disposal technique. resources by thinking on a watershed-level. The settings of local watershed management efforts are indeed diverse. For example, some communities are trying to save salmon habitat in the Pacific Northwest. One of the least understood consequences of urban Yet other communities work at the watershed Driver Even Swept a Away by level Flash to sustain trout populations Flood in the Great Lakes, to stem the decline in biodiversity of warm Managing microbes from urban watersheds managing microbes from urban watersheds canwater extend streamsover in theseveral Southeast hundred to protect square endangered miles. can be a daunting task, as bacteria are usually be a daunting task, as bacteria are usuallysalamanders. MicrobesWhile fromthe urban settings watersheds and resource can issues be a present in high concentrations during storms, present in high concentrations during storms, that drive daunting local task, watershed as bacteria protection are usually are diverse, present come from many different sources, and follow come from many different sources, and followcommunities in highoften concentrations find that many duringofstorms, the same come tools from Fish Populations Continue To Decline Shellfish The review concludes that current stormwater In a recent survey practices, released streamby buffers the Environmental and Protection Agency source scientists controls found an have alarming a modest decrease potential in the number to of trout. One of the reduce least fecal understood coliform consequences levels, but cannot of urban reduce growth is the gradual but them seemingly far inevitable enough toloss meet of human water uses quality of surface waters. standards small amount in most of watershed urban settings. development It iscan alsolead to almost continuous argued violations that current of bacteria watershed standards practices for have drinking, swimming, shellfish even harvesting less orcapability recreation during to remove wet weather, pros and in often during dry weather stormwater. as well. Beaches Watersheds are important to any community Close Again After Weekend Rains because they embody our sense of place in the landscape, and their waters are important in our daily life. Some of the many interactions between ourselves and urban watersheds are described. In an important sense watersheds are the geographic In a recent address survey for released our community, by the Environmental and Protection Agency scientists found an alarming provide decrease a commoninand theunifying number of goal trout. to rally growth around. is the gradual but seemingly inevitable loss of human uses of surface waters. smallcommunities amount of watershed quickly find development many reasons can lead to to almost continuous violations of bacteria standards protect local for drinking, watersheds swimming, shellfish whether harvesting it is or recreation during wet weather, and often during because dryof weather economic as well. benefits, Indeed recreation, it can beflood argued that bacteria cause the greatest impairment of human prevention, uses toscenery our nation s or thewaters overall andquality that urban of stormwater ranks among the greatest sources of Water life. bacteria. Bills to Different groups of people often have their Bacteria own are unique considered rationale a major for protection water quality problem for many water supplies. For many complex pathways to reach receiving many complex pathways to reach receiving and techniques many different appear sources, to workand in every followatershed. many complex example, watersheds. bacteria Somewere maycited placeasa the highthird value greatest on the pollution concern in a national survey of 272 waters. waters. pathways to reach receiving waters. surface aquaticwater community supply living utilities in these (Robbins, waters, 1991). while Most water utilities treat and disinfect their source otherswater Rise willtoberemove more concerned bacteria 20% The review concludes that current The review concludes that current The review concludes that current stormwater before aboutitreducing is piped to the customer. When bacteria levels are high, stormwater practices, stream buffers and stormwater practices, stream buffers and practices, stream buffers and source controls however, stream channel water utilities erosion often to themust realspend estate more in to treat their source water. Drinking water source controls have a modest potential to source controls have a modest potential to have a modest potential to reduce fecal coliform treatment their backyard. costs areregardless expected toof dramatically the reasons, increase it more stringent drinking water standards. reduce fecal coliform levels, but cannot reduce reduce fecal coliform levels, but cannot levels, but cannot reduce them far enough to meet is Some clearcommunities that most communities still rely nowonrecognize an unfiltered the water supply that uses reservoirs to them far enough to meet water quality temporarily Next value of local store watershed drinkingyear reduce them far enough to meet water quality water quality standards in most urban settings. protection. water before disinfecting it and sending it along to their customers. standards in most urban settings. It is also standards in most urban settings. It is also It is also argued that current watershed Prominent examples include much of the water supply for Portland. Bacteria loads generated by argued that current watershed practices have development For whatever in these reason, watersheds bacteria argued that current watershed practices have have continues raised toconcern be practices have even less capability to remove about the purity of the drinking water even less capability to remove pros in even less capability to remove pros in pros in stormwater. Communities can create a supply highly resistant since water to treatment a watershed mayapproach. not be adequate This, to remove pros once they enter an unfiltered stormwater. stormwater. A basin drains to a major single authority for an entire watershed or a water however, supply willsystem. change rapidly over the next few The terms watershed and subwatershed are receiving water such as a large river, estuary, series of smaller authorities at the. years as new or recycled regulatory programs are phased in. Perhaps the most significant regulatory not inter-changeable. Readers will observe or lake. Basin drainage areas typically exceed development will be EPA s Total Maximum Daily that throughout this handbook, the term several thousand square miles and of ten Load program. Communities can create a single watershed is used when referring to broader include major portions of a single state or authority for an entire. watershed management issues across an entire even a groups of states. Within each basin are

6 I m still not really sure what exactly a watershed IS.

7 What Is a Watershed? A watershed is the area of land that drains to a particular point along a stream

8 EVERYONE Lives in a Watershed

9 OK, now I know that I live in a watershed what types of things can affect the health of my watershed? High levels of paved surfaces, or impervious cover, can have many impacts on a watershed.

10 Many Forms of Impervious Cover in the Urban Landscape Sidewalks Roads Driveways Parking Buildings

11 Impervious Cover Can Transform a Watershed in Just a Few Years Agriculture Under Construction Undeveloped Developed Existing Development Undeveloped Developed 1950s 1960s 1970s 1940s 1990s

12 Stream Quality Is Related to Impervious Cover In a forest, rain soaks into the ground and is either taken up by tree roots or continues to move down through the soil and into the groundwater. When rain falls on impervious cover, it cannot soak into the ground and instead becomes stormwater runoff Inches Impervious cover produces 16 times more stormwater runoff than forest. 0 Rainfall Parking Lot Runoff Forest Runoff

13 Stream Quality Is Related to Impervious Cover 8-10% < 5% Impervious Cover 20% > 65% 30%

14 Relationship Between Impervious Cover and Stream Quality Good Impervious Cover Model Stream Quality Fair Poor Severely Damaged 10% 25% 40% 60% 100% Watershed Impervious Cover

15 Wow, there really is a relationship between impervious cover and stream health! But I want to know exactly HOW impervious cover affects stream quality.

16 How Impervious Cover Impacts Stream Quality Impervious Cover Influences: Dry & Wet Weather Stream Flow Channel Shape and Size Water Quality Plant and Animal Habitat

17 Impervious Cover Influences Dry Weather Stream Flow Many streams draw from groundwater Impervious surfaces can block water from contributing to groundwater supply This can result in lower stream flows during dry weather

18 Impervious Cover Influences Wet Weather Stream Flow When it rains, a large amount of water... Runs off of impervious surfaces Enters the stormdrain system Is directed straight to the stream

19 Impervious Cover Influences Wet Weather Stream Flow The large amount of stormwater runoff in the stream system can cause: More Frequent Flooding Higher Flood Levels

20 Impervious Cover Influences Stream Shape and Size Large amounts of stormwater runoff due to impervious cover can: Erode stream banks, making the banks steeper and the channel wider Deposit soil on the stream bottom, making the stream more shallow Cause straightening of the channel

21 Impervious Cover Influences Water Quality Pollutants build up on impervious surfaces and wash off into the stream system when it rains.

22 Harmful Pollutants in Runoff Bacteria Nutrients Pesticides Oil & Grease Muddy Water Heavy Metals (e.g. Zinc, Copper, Lead)

23 Impervious Cover Influences Habitat Quality Impervious cover changes the natural stream environment, resulting in: Smothering of Habitat by Sediment Deposits Loss of Habitat Variety Loss of Stream Buffer

24 Impervious Cover Influences Aquatic Life Impervious Cover affects many kinds of wildlife: Number and Diversity of Aquatic Life Waterfowl Aquatic Insects Amphibians Percent Impervious Cover in Watershed As the amount of impervious cover increases, Fish Photo Source: Bruce Hemboldt the number and diversity of aquatic species decreases.

25 So what does all this mean for the future of streams? With proper management, every stream can be improved.

26 What It Means for Streams Sensitive Streams Impacted Streams Diagnosis: Healthy stream Good water quality Supports diverse aquatic life Potential to be excellent < 10% Impervious Cover 10-25% Impervious Cover Very vulnerable to development Diagnosis: Classic suburban stream Water quality depends on watershed protection techniques Can support fairly diverse aquatic life Streambank erosion noticeable Prescription: Requires greatest level of protection, including land conservation Prescription: Requires extensive protection, including stormwater management.

27 What It Means for Streams Damaged Streams Severely Damaged Streams Diagnosis: 25-60% Impervious Cover >60 % Impervious Cover Channel highly eroded Poor water quality Supports very few species, no sensitive species Use of stream limited by health concerns Diagnosis: Channels are highly modified and have few natural features Poor water quality and limited aquatic life Does not support many human uses, like fishing Prescription: Careful restoration and stewardship can improve water and habitat quality Prescription: Pollution prevention can help reduce pollutants delivered downstream

28 So impervious cover can impact watersheds in many ways but is there a way our community can protect its streams? Yes! No matter where your watershed is, communities can use eight different tools to help mitigate the impacts of impervious cover.

29

30 Tool #1 Watershed Planning Addresses the degree and location of future development expected in a watershed Is perhaps the single most important watershed protection tool

31 Watershed Planning Choices ½ Acre Residential Townhome Residential 2 Acre Residential Industrial Commercial

32 Watershed Planning Choices 2 ac Residential Commercial Industrial Agriculture ½ Acre Residential Multifamily Residential 1 ac Residential Little Creek Watershed Zoning Map

33 Watershed Planning Watershed plans assess stream conditions and outline strategies to maintain or restore their condition.

34 Tool #2 Land Conservation The goal of land conservation is to keep the most important and vulnerable parts of the watershed undisturbed.

35 5 Types of Conservation Areas Critical Habitats Aquatic Corridor Cultural Areas Forests and Farmlands Water Pollution Hazards

36 Identifying and Protecting Areas for Conservation

37 Tool #3 Aquatic Buffers An aquatic buffer is a transition zone between a developed area and a waterbody Benefits of Buffers: Flood control Increase property value Habitat for wildlife Wetland protection Pollutant reduction

38

39 Not so good. Good.

40 NCRS Photo Gallery, 2000 Not so good. Good. Good.

41 Tool #4 Better Site Design Better site design reduces impervious cover, conserves natural areas, and provides stormwater treatment Better site design can be applied to new residential and commercial developments

42 Street Width Not so good. Good.

43 Conventional Subdivision Not so good. Cluster Subdivision Good.

44 Rooftop Runoff Not so good. Good. Good.

45 Green Parking Lots Good. Not so good. Vicki Bohnhoff,

46 Tool #5 Erosion & Sediment Control Preventing soil erosion during construction is essential for protecting streams

47 During construction, vegetation is cleared and the development site is graded to create a buildable landscape. With the trees and topsoil removed, soils are particularly susceptible to erosion. Without proper control measures, sediment from the site can run off and choke nearby streams.

48 Erosion and Sediment Control Techniques Silt Fence Hydroseeding Check dams Sediment Basin

49 Tool #6 Stormwater Management Stormwater is managed by practices that temporarily store runoff and remove pollutants. Types: Ponds Wetlands Infiltration Filtration Open Channels

50 Stormwater Management Ponds Wetlands Open Channels Filters Infiltration

51 Tool #7 Other Pollution Sources In addition to stormwater runoff there are other contributors to pollution: Septic Systems Sanitary Sewer Overflows Industrial Discharges Confined Animal Feeding Lots Illicit Discharges Marinas

52 Non-Stormwater Discharges Confined Animal Feed Lots Illicit Discharges Failing Septic Systems Sanitary Sewer Overflows

53 Tool #8 Watershed Stewardship Types of watershed stewardship programs: Watershed Advocacy Watershed Maintenance Monitoring Restoration Education

54 Types of Watershed Stewardship Advocacy Maintenance Education Monitoring Restoration

55 I don t control development I don t litter I m only one person I don t run a factory So what can I do to make a difference??!

56 Understanding How You Might Contribute to the Problem Number of People Engaging in Excessive Behavior Hosers Pesticide Sprayers Bad Mechanics Septic Slackers Chronic Car Washers Bad Dog Walkers Over-Fertilizers 15 million 43 million 3 million 15 million 27 million 16 million 38 million

57 Top Ten Things You Can Do to Protect Your Watershed 1. Water Only Where & When It s Really Needed 2. Limit Use of Pesticides & Fertilizers 3. Plant Native Vegetation

58 Top 10 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Watershed 4. Redirect Rooftop Runoff 5. Dispose of Pet Waste Properly 6. Carefully Choose Where to Wash Your Car

59 Top 10 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Watershed 7. Properly Maintain Vehicles 8. Recycle and Dispose of Household Chemicals Properly 9. Properly Maintain Septic System

60 And the best thing you can do for your watershed is 10. Join a Watershed Organization! Learn more about your watershed and its unique qualities! Find out what the land development plans are for your area! Be involved in the future of your environment!

61 For more information on watershed protection, visit the Center for Watershed Protection online at Or visit River Network at to search for watershed organizations in your own community.

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