Everyone has an address. It starts with your name, then your house by number, then the road you live on, then the town, and finally the state you live in. Each part of your address is a larger area. Watersheds work the same way. Each small stream is part of a larger river system. Everybody lives in a watershed!
Smaller streams in the upper reaches of a watershed flow downhill to form a larger watershed or river basin. Trace your hand to see how small streams (fingers) flow together to form a larger water body like a lake (hand) which flows into a river (wrist and arm).
Watersheds Are Handy
A watershed is simply the area of land that drains to a body of water, so even a small creek in your backyard has a watershed. Small watersheds make up larger watersheds, which in turn form larger river basins, which may drain to the largest water body of all…the ocean!
Here’s a “hands-on” activity to help you visualize this concept!
- Trace your hand and wrist.
- Imagine your fingertips are high mountain tops. Picture rain falling on them, forming a small stream of water that flows down each finger. Also picture “groundwater” seeping up to the earth’s surface at each of your fingertips and adding water to the small stream or watershed.
- These five small watersheds flow into each other as they run down to your hand. Cup your palm—together the five small watersheds form one larger watershed.
- Imagine this large watershed joined by other large watersheds. Soon they flow together as one “river” down your wrist.
- The river continues its journey to your lower arm, your larger upper arm, and eventually flows into the largest part of you: your body or the largest water body on earth…the “ocean.”
Cool Fact: Your body is approximately 75% water, and so is the Earth!
Watersheds Are In Your Hands
Watersheds reflect how people treat their land and water. Healthy watersheds reflect human communities that value and respect the natural resources that sustain them. Clean water is the result of their individual and collective efforts to prevent water pollution.
Today, the greatest threat to watersheds in our communities and our country is stormwater pollution! Give clean water a hand by practicing clean water stewardship every day. Here’s more information about stormwater in our daily lives.
EPA’s Nonpoint Source Pollution pages for kids.
Give Water A Hand is a national watershed education program that can help you find out how to get involved in local environmental projects.