The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service just announced a new program designed to help keep our nation’s watersheds cleaner. Why? Because they know that the cleaner our nation’s watersheds are, the cleaner our drinking water is.
What is a watershed?
The US EPA defines a watershed as an “… area that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, aquifer, or even the ocean .” Basically, it’s any piece of land near any kind of common water source. So guess what? We all live in a watershed. This means that every one of us has a responsibility for helping to keep our own watershed clean, knowing that our actions could be potentially polluting our own drinking water.
How to protect your watershed
Even taking one of the steps below will help make drinking water safer for all of us. It’s important, too, to educate your friends and neighbors, because their actions will have an impact on the quality of your drinking water.
- Properly dispose of toxic household waste like batteries, which contain lead and mercury that can leach into groundwater over time.
- Only purchase those household and garden chemicals that you know you will need, and then use them sparingly. Even when used properly, pesticides and other household chemicals will seep into your area’s groundwater over time.
- Don’t ever pour unused chemicals into stormdrains or septic systems.
- Be mindful of the personal products you choose. Sunscreens, soaps and cosmetics will dissolve when you bathe and contribute directly to watershed pollution.
- Take used motor oil to a recycling center instead of pouring it onto the ground or into a storm drain.
- Plant a rain garden. The plants will soak up excess rainwater in storms, so yard chemicals and debris don’t wash into stormdrains.
- Become a volunteer Water Monitor in order to raise awareness of how to protect your own watershed.
- If you’ve done your part and you’re still concerned about the quality of water from your watershed, consider installing the right water filter to protect your family’s water.
Want to know more about your watershed? Just enter your zip code into the EPA’s “Find Your Watershed” tool to learn your watershed’s name, geographical area, health assessment and more. And if you have any more ideas on how to protect your watershed, please leave them in the comments below!