Remember the scene in movies set in pre-plumbing days where someone tosses the contents of a chamber pot out of an upstairs window onto pedestrians below? Ha! Ha! Aren’t we glad we live in “Modern Times.”
But the idea that we are safe from having someone else’s waste dumped on our heads is pure illusion. Whenever we fertilize a field or flush a toilet, we are doing exactly that to people downstream. And we, in turn, are the target of those people who live upstream in our particular watershed.
We got an excellent sense of how watersheds work in Wisconsin last Saturday on a train trek into the Tiffany Wildlife Area from Karen Voss, Program & Policy Analyst of the Wisconsin DNR’s Runoff Management Program. (see my post on the trip here )
Voss showed us how we can look up our individual watershed address.
OUR POSTAL ADDRESS
We all know the street address that anchors us precisely in our community, and now thanks to Google Maps, we can pinpoint that address by typing a few computer keys.
OUR WATERSHED ADDRESS
We all also have a watershed address that we can find online, which places us just as accurately in our watershed – after all, it’s every bit as important for fresh water to get to us as it is for free coupons and Netflix to be delivered.
Knowing our watershed address is a graphic reminder that everything flows everything flows downstream and where we sit in that process is important. We ought to have a sense of what is happening to the water that hits the ground outside our doors. What is the next water body that my land is draining to? where does the water that flows through my land come from? Where does it go from there?
This information is all available and pretty easy to find. We can locate or own watershed address online and follow water flowing away from our front step all the way to the sea . We can all be desk chair Lewises and Clarks.
Here’s how it works. You can find the name and lots more information about your watershed just by entering your zip code here
With that information, I went to this link to Wisconsin’s watersheds here
This website is a gateway to all kinds of information about Wisconsin’s watersheds, it’s worth exploring.
By merely selecting my watershed and clicking “go” I can learned that over half the land use in this watershed is agricultural with some woodlots along valleys and creeks. Four municipalities border the northern edge of the watershed and discharge to surface waters within. Despite the presence of these municipalities, the population of the watershed is likely to only grow by about 8 percent over the next 20 years. As of 2002, there were 13 streams with some stretches able to support trout.
Oh oh — it also notes there are problems caused by non-point source pollution (that basically means farm runoff), and excess sedimentation and habitat degradation are impacting my watershed.
Go ahead Lewis – plug in your zip code. Now, check out your watershed address, Clark.
Do you like what you see?
What are you going to do about it?
The Chippewa River – that got me thinking about watersheds this week in the first place.
Categories: Eco activism