Once rainwater hits the ground, a lot of things happen to it. Some of it evaporates into the atmosphere, while the soil absorbs the other portion if it is porous. The water will flow away if the rain falls on an impervious surface. Most of the water that comes down in the form of rain ends up in rivers and streams, which can direct it into lakes, seas, and oceans. The water cycle is crucial because it helps sustain life on the earth’s surface. It sustains animals, humans, and plants.
Water must seep into the soil to sustain plants (the primary producers). If you have a vast area covered with pavement and concrete, water will not find its way quickly into the soil, which is bound to interfere with the ecosystem.
Water that falls on impervious surfaces ends up in sewer systems, storm drains, and storm water infrastructure, carrying litter, chemicals, and other pollutants that can get into the drinking water supply system. Uncontrolled runoff can also cause erosion and flooding, damaging the sewer or storm system. To effectively manage your watershed, it is crucial to understand the importance of watersheds and the basic principles behind watershed management.
At an individual level, you can manage your watershed to help mitigate the negative effects of runoff. Here are some tips that can help you manage your watershed more effectively:
• Analyze the current state of your watershed and determine the areas for improvement. This will give you a better understanding of your watershed and help you plan for future developments.
• Establish effective partnerships with other individuals and organizations interested in watershed management. This will help you create a strong network of support that can help get projects done more efficiently.
• Develop a management plan that outlines the goals and strategies for managing your watershed. This plan should include a timeline for implementation, a budget, and a monitoring and evaluation system.
• Monitor the impacts of any activities that take place within your watershed. This includes monitoring land use changes, water quality, and biodiversity.
• Take action to protect your watershed from any potential sources of pollution and degradation. This can include planting trees, implementing best management practices, and creating buffer zones.
• Get educated about watershed management and the importance of preserving and protecting it.
Other steps you can take include:
1. Conserve water and reduce runoff
The best way to conserve water and reduce runoff in your home is to construct a rain barrel, a large container attached to a downspout to collect water that can drain away into the yard. When made correctly, a rain barrel can help you with flooding issues. Rain barrels are excellent at reducing runoff and thus protecting a watershed. When you collect rainwater, you will prevent it from flowing on roads and across lawns, picking up chemicals and other pollutants along the way. If you live in an area with less rainfall, a rain barrel can also help you collect the water you can use for watering your houseplants, gardens, and lawns.
Even if you live in an area with green infrastructure and native plants, you may still need supplemental water. You can have an irrigation system installed for you by experts like Quench Irrigation. By harvesting rainwater, reusing it, or recycling it, you will play a significant role in environmental conservation.
2. Reduce the area covered by impervious materials
The ecosystem comprises everything in your yard, not just the grass and other plants. Plants are a vital component of the ecosystem because they are primary producers. Note that your patio spaces, sidewalks, parking lot, and roof have some effect on stormwater drainage and absorption. You can connect your home to the ecosystem by reducing the area covered by impervious materials. For example, you can have permeable pavers and green roofs that allow water to be absorbed into the soil. This also reduces runoff and improves water quality.
3. Add a rain garden or native plants to your landscape
There are no better watershed protectors than native plants. These plants are adapted to the climate where they grow, meaning they can survive in low-rainfall areas. For example, the Illinois prairie plants help conserve watersheds because their roots go deep into the soil. Deep roots can survive under low rainfall conditions and are also excellent at preventing soil erosion and recharging groundwater resources. Creating a rain garden is easy. Dig a depression in your yard and plant in it. Make sure the plants are water-tolerant.
4. Eliminate or reduce lawn chemicals
If you have to add nutrients to the soil, it is best to use organic fertilizers. When rain falls, it will pick up excess fertilizer from your sidewalk and lawn and carry it down the drain, eventually contaminating water bodies. It is better to care for your lawn naturally than by adding fertilizers. If you have to use fertilizers, do so with lots of caution. Don’t use them excessively; ensure you sweep away any excess fertilizer from your driveways. It is not just about fertilizers; avoid using chemicals like pesticides on your lawn unless they are proven safe for the environment. Before you use any chemicals on your lawn, seek advice from Quench irrigation experts.
5. Use salt cautiously
Our streams and freshwater rivers are getting saltier as the years go by. There is an unprecedented increase in chlorine levels in our waterways, just as there is an increase in salt levels resulting from the salt applied to parking lots and roads during the winter. While you may not be able to control the amount of chlorine used in water treatment plants, you can reduce the amount of salt in the environment by using a small amount on your parking lot during the winter. There is no need to use more salt than necessary. Besides contaminating the water, excess salt in the soil can also harm plants.
Quench Irrigation is at your service if you need more information on how to protect and manage your watershed. We can also help install your irrigation system in a way that conserves water.