Watersheds Are Important To All Of Us

Students Participate in Conservation Poster Contest                                                                           By: Andrea Mayer Missaukee Conservation District

Students at Northern Michigan Christian School (NMCS) win Missaukee Conservation District Poster Contest.  Students in Mrs. DeBoer’s 6th grade class at NMCS participated in the 2018 National Association of Conservation Districts’ Poster Contest at the local level.  Each year this contest highlights a conservation topic for students to learn about and then they make a themed poster.  This year’s theme was “Watersheds Our Water, Our Home”.

The following students placed in the top three: Luke Pettengill of Manton, MI (1st Place), Mabia DeRuiter of Cadillac, MI (2nd Place), and Elly Bennett of McBain, MI (3rd Place).  Luke Pettengill’s poster was sent on for state judging and he received second at the state level. These students and their teacher will be recognized at a school wide assembly in December.

Every year the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) hosts a poster contest that highlights an environmental or conservation issue of concern.   NACD provides educational material related to the topic to teachers and students in grades K-12.  This material is used to teach students about the chosen conservation issue and students are given the opportunity to enter a themed poster contest.

What is a Watershed?

“Clean water is important to everyone,” says National Association of Conservation Districts Past President Earl Garber.  “Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state and national boundaries. Every inch of the land on planet Earth is part of a watershed.”  Michigan is part of the Great Lakes Watershed Basin which includes all five of the great lakes. These lakes contain 84% of our nation’s fresh water supply.  We have 63 major watersheds within the state of Michigan that consist of over 11,000 inland lakes, shoreline of 3,224 miles and 36,000 miles of streams, rivers, and creeks.  Missaukee, Wexford, and Osceola counties are part of the Muskegon and Manistee Watershed.

According to the Unites States Geological Survey “a watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet. The watershed consists of surface water–lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands–and all the underlying ground water.”  The health of our watersheds is essential for all life and is important to all of us.  Watersheds provide us with drinking water, habitat for plants and animals, recreation, and water for agriculture and manufacturing. The EPA estimates that “$450 billion dollars in food, fiber, manufactured goods and tourism depend on clean healthy water”.

What Pollutes the Watershed?

We all live in a watershed and it is important for us to understand how our actions can affect our local watershed health and water quality. The leading cause of pollution in our waterways comes from sediments, bacteria, chemicals, heavy metals, and an excess of nutrients. Urbanization causes increased water runoff which leads to erosion, water turbity (how cloudy water is), and degradation of habitat.  It is important to remember that water flows downhill and anything put in the water upstream will affect anyone downstream.

According to the EPA “non-point source pollution is the largest remaining water quality problem”.  Non-point source pollution comes from all of us and our daily activities.  This type of pollution does not come from a specific source, like a discharge pipe, but rather it comes from a combination of pollutants from a large area. Non-point source pollution mainly occurs as a result of runoff. This runoff can be from water flowing over parking lots, city streets, plowed fields, lawns and everything it takes with it. While each of our daily activities has a very small impact, the cumulative effect of our activities can lead to environmental problems such as watershed and water quality degradation.  It is also equally as important to understand that we can take actions to develop water-friendly habits and practices.

How to Protect our Watersheds?

You can help protect our local watersheds by:

  • Conserving water
  • Refraining from dumping toxic household chemicals down drains
  • Using drought tolerant or native plants
  • Reducing the use of fertilizers by using soil sampling,
  • Properly maintaining your septic system
  • Implementing household recycling
  • Composting or mulching your yard waste
  • Make a commitment to conserve water by taking the EPA’s “I’m For Water Pledge” which can be found at https://www.epa.gov/watersense/im-water-pledge.

Missaukee Conservation District provides services to the public to help conserve our local resources by offering:

  • Household Hazard Waste Disposal once a year in June
  • A recycling center
  • Has information on how to submit soil samples
  • Sells compost bins
  • Hosting a tree sale in the spring and a native plant sale in the fall
  • You can also volunteer for Missaukee Conservation District’s Spring Stream Monitoring.

You can make a difference!

Andrea is the education coordinator for Missaukee Conservation District. Please contact her at Missaukee Conservation District 231.839.7193 or at andrea.mayer@macd.org.

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