Friday, February 1, 2013

Wetlands and Watersheds

The Green LIONS Garden Group was excited to welcome representatives from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center to speak with the students about wetlands and watersheds and the importance of protecting them. Through lecture and hands-on experiments they covered a vast array of details about the wetlands and watersheds in our area.

A watershed is a ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins or seas. The students traced the path of water from Linkhorn Park Elementary to the Atlantic Ocean. They learned that the closet body of water to Linkhorn is Linkhorn Bay. The next closest body of water is Broad Bay, then Lynnhaven Bay and finally the Atlantic Ocean.

They learned about the importance of marshes and forests within the watersheds and how through plants, bushes and soils they protect these bodies of water by slowing down unwelcome material run-off. These vital areas allow the water to soak into the ground before entering the water. Marshes and forests work like filters or strainers that clean the water in a watershed. They help to reduce soil erosion which even though it’s a natural material can be a pollutant to the water and water life.

Because they can absorb water, marshes also act as barriers in times of flood protecting the land behind them. In our area, with frequent flooding, it is very important to protect our wetlands. They protect both the water and the land.

Students also discussed ways they can protect the wetlands and watersheds by being conscious of chemical pollutants that can run into our waters. Washing a car at home, for example, rather than at a car washing facility that is hooked up to a different drainage system and possibly recycles their water as well, can allow chemicals like oil from a car to flow into the storm drains and into rivers and other waters. Not using chemical pesticides or herbicides on lawns or gardens, a practice we embrace at the organically-grown LIONS Garden, is another way we can protect run-off. Also, keeping our waterways and shores clear of litter is vitally important.

Ways we can conserve our water use at home was also discussed, with students and teachers sharing ideas. Turning off the faucet during teeth brushing and hand washing is an easy habit, as is only washing full loads in a dishwasher or washing machine. Plugging the tub before running the water to get just the right temperature saves water as does choosing a shower over a bath. Using a moister meter when watering lawns can prevent unnecessary watering. We’ve all witnessed a sprinkler on in a neighbor’s yard while it’s raining. Even better, install a rain barrel to supplement watering in gardens and landscaping. We use one at the LIONS Garden and it works very well. Students love to hand water with the watering cans.

Small changes in our lifestyles can conserve water and help protect the bodies of water that surround us. We are all in this beautiful world together and must work together to protect it.

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