Getting to Know Your Watershed
Many places in the United States have water concerns similar to California's. Use your science journal to research your own watershed.
1. Brainstorm: Close your eyes, and imagine your neighborhood and your city. Draw a map of the area where you live, including rivers, streams, and lakes. Then, draw in any human activities or recent natural events that might change the quality of your water, such as factories, farms, mining, mud slides, etc.
2. Use online maps, an atlas, or resources from your local library to look up where the rivers and streams are in your region. Alter your old map or draw a new one to include any bodies of water you may have missed before.
3. Use the Internet, such as Google Maps' satellite view, to draw in what surrounds your water bodies. Are there buildings, vegetation, or bare land? Alternately, you may look at a city-planning map or walk a section of the nearest river or stream.
4. Conduct an interview. Contact someone within your community who is involved with water health. You can try the public health department of your city, the local EPA, a local university, or the water sanitation district to find people whose careers focus on water quality. Ask the water expert you contact about local threats to the water quality and what is being done to address those threats.
5. Record what you learn during your interview in a two-column list.
6. Looking over your investigation so far, what do you think is the greatest threat to water health where you live? Does it most concern human health, ecosystem health, or wildlife health?
7. Make a plan. Now that you know more about your watershed, is there anything you think should be done to better protect its health? If so, write down your ideas for that improvement. If you have a concern that you think could and should be addressed soon, write a letter expressing your opinion, and send it to a local representative or water manager.