EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES PART 2-
Water Quality, Erosion, Soil Health
Have you ever heard the term "watershed" and wonder what it meant?
Watersheds are an area of land where the precipitation eventually drains into the same waterbody, but not all of that water makes it into the waterbody. 💧 Some water evaporates, plants soak up some of the water, and some soaks into the groundwater.
We all live in a watershed -- the area of land that catches rain and snow and that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, or even the ocean -- and our individual actions can directly affect it. Watersheds can be large or small. Every stream, tributary, or river has an associated watershed, and small watersheds aggregate together to become larger watersheds. It is a relatively easy task to delineate watershed boundaries using a topographical map that shows stream channels. The watershed boundaries will follow the major ridge-line around the channels and meet at the bottom where the water flows out of the watershed, commonly referred to as the mouth of the stream or river.
Because the water moves downstream in a watershed, any activity that affects the water quality, quantity, or rate of movement at one location can change the characteristics of the watershed at locations downstream. For this reason, everyone living or working within a watershed needs to cooperate to ensure good watershed condition
The water you drank this morning might have been the same water that once rained down on a Tyrannosaurus, froze on a woolly mammoth, flowed down the Nile to bring new silt to an Egyptian farm – or filled the bathing pool of Julius Caesar. The water we use now is the same supply that has been on Earth for billions of years. Its quality is renewed again and again by the natural water (hydrologic) cycle.
Water itself is the only substance that exists in liquid, gas and solid form – the keys to the water cycle. Here’s how the cycle works:
Water evaporates from oceans, rivers, and lakes (water in its liquid form) and rises into the atmosphere (water in its gas form) where it condenses to form clouds. Precipitation then falls to the earth in the form of rain (water in its liquid) or snow (water in its solid form) where it flows into oceans, rivers, and lakes and the process begins again.
Water is the most precious renewable resource on Earth, defining our planet as a glowing blue marble floating in the frozen black of space. Life cannot exist without water – this includes humans who cannot live more than a few days without water. Although water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, freshwater is limited – 97% is saltwater. Of the remaining 3%, less than 1% is the freshwater that flows in our streams and lakes or is stored in our groundwater aquifers
BE WATER SMART
DID YOU KNOW?
Erosion is the process of soil, rock and other particles displacing from a location by wind and/or water (like Stormwater runoff)...
Job site erosion control is especially important because excess dirt, construction materials, chemicals, and other pollutants will be carried into runoff if proper steps aren't taken.
Erosion Prevention Techniques
1. Plant grass and shrubs. ...
2. Add mulch or rocks. ...
3. Use mulch matting to hold vegetation on slopes. ...
4. Put down fiber logs. ...
5. Build retaining walls. ...
6. Improve drainage. ...
7. Reduce watering if possible. ...
8. Avoid soil compaction.
Soil Erosion Experiment
This might look like such a simple experiment but it will definitely show the importance of having vegetation covering the soil to prevent erosion!
What you’ll need:
· 6 empty coke bottles
· 1 x piece of plywood
· Wood glue
· Scissors and Stanley knife
· Soil from the garden and compost
· 4 Seedlings
· Mulch (bark chips, dead leaves and sticks)
Prepare three of the coke bottles by cutting a rectangular hole roughly 7cm x 25cm along the side of the bottle.
(You can use a permanent marker to mark out the piece you want to cut out.)
Stick the bottles to the wood with the wood glue making sure that the necks of the three bottles protrude a little over the edge of the board.
Fill the first bottle with plain garden soil and the other two with a soil and compost mixture. Press down firmly to compact it.
Leave the first bottle as is.
Cover the top of the soil in the second bottle with your mulch (bark chips, dead leaves and sticks etc).
Plant your seedlings in the third bottle. Make sure you plant them tightly together and press down firmly to compact the soil.
Cut the other three bottles in half, horizontally and keep the bottom halves.
Make two small holes opposite each other, nearest the cut side of the bottle.
Cut three pieces of string, roughly 25cm long and insert each end into the holes. Tie a knot on the ends to secure them.
This will form a “bucket” to collect the water.
Hang them over the necks of each of the three bottles on the board.
Slowly pour equal amounts of water into each of the bottles. Pour the water in at the end furthest from the neck of the bottle.
Take note of the color of the water collecting in the cups! The water in the first cut is really dirty, the water from the second and third cups are much cleaner which shows that both mulches, as well as the root structure of plants, assist in preventing soil erosion.
Do this every day for a week or two and they will soon see how the soil erodes away in the first container while the plants hold the soil in the last one. It’s nature's glue, so let’s look after our plants and while we’re about it … plant some more.