All land and water are connected. When we take care of our land we also take care of our water.
A watershed is an area in which the land’s surface drains to a particular water body. Watersheds are basins with boundaries that have higher elevations; gravity pulls the water, that is above and below the surface, down from the higher ground and into a water body.
The continental divide is North America’s most famous watershed boundary. On the east side of the continental divide, the rivers and other water bodies all drain to the Atlantic Ocean. On the west side of the continental divide, all of the waters drain to the Pacific Ocean. The Huron River Watershed is part of Lake Erie’s watershed, which lies within the Great Lakes Watershed. Ultimately the Great Lakes drain to the Atlantic Ocean and are part of the Atlantic watershed.
How communities can protect the surrounding land
The biggest threat to our home waters comes from stormwater runoff. When it rains or when snow melts, most of the water from rooftops, streets, and parking lots washes down stormdrains carrying pollutants, litter, and sediment. Once in the stormdrains, the water flows directly into our streams and river. Therefore, capturing this water before it washes down the stormdrains is the best way to protect our water.
There are many ways for communities to capture runoff and protect the water entering the river:
- Protect natural areas
- Harness the power of green, also known as Green Infrastructure*
- Invest in smart growth measures by building denser livable areas to preserve open space like forests and fields
- Create and enforce policies that minimize harmful chemicals from reaching our waterways
*Green Infrastructure (GI) is an integrated approach to land use that reduces and treats stormwater at its source to benefit the environment, economy, and societies. Examples of GI include natural area conservation, trees, rain gardens, bioswales (channels with ‘thirsty’ plants in them), permeable (porous) pavements, rain barrels, and green roofs.
What HRWC is doing to protect the surrounding land
- HRWC staff developed zoning ordinance language for protecting natural areas that local governments can incorporate into their policies.
- HRWC performs field assessments to determine the most biodiverse land areas which are then highlighted as priority areas for preservation. We share this information with local governments and land conservation groups.
- HRWC staff provides research and meets with local decision-makers to encourage Green Infrastructure opportunities. Sometimes we partner with local governments to create ‘grow green’ projects such as the Swift Run and Millers Avenue rain garden projects in Ann Arbor and the Norton Creek project in Wixom.
- We educate local leaders, businesses, and the public on the value of Green Infrastructure. Here is more information about green infrastructure.
What you can do to protect the surrounding land
- Plant trees, rain gardens, and native plants. (bonus outcome: your property value will increase and your yard will be easier to maintain)
- If you have a septic system, maintain it
- Scoop your pooch’s poop in your yard and on walks
- Install rain barrels
- If your gutters are connected to the stormwater system, redirect them to drain onto your yard, garden, or rain barrel.
- If you own 10 or more acres, sign up for a free land assessment. email Kris for more information.