We all live in a watershed and chances are if you are on the Bay Backpack site you live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay watershed stretches across more than 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states -Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – and the entire District of Columbia. Almost 17 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the things those people do every day impact how clean our local waterways are.
So What is a Watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a particular body of water like the Susquehanna River or the Chesapeake Bay. When it rains all of the water that falls on the land has to go somewhere, so it drains off the land, our roadways and parking lots into local streams. Threading through the Chesapeake watershed are more than 100,000 streams and rivers. These streams then feed into large rivers such as the Susquehanna, Potomac and James. All of these rivers eventually run into the Chesapeake Bay carrying with them any pollutants (like lawn fertilizer or oil from parking lots) that have washed off the land and other hard surfaces.
Why Should I Teach About Watersheds?
Understanding the links between what we do on the land and our waterways is the key to having healthy, safe rivers and a clean Chesapeake Bay. Water is critical to all aspects of our lives. Most of our drinking water comes from our local river so it is important that we understand the connections between people, land and waterways. We are the source of all the solutions to problems that pollute our waterways. Each and every person’s actions can and do have an impact on cleaning our own streams and rivers.
So How Do I Teach About Watersheds?
There are already tons of lessons and activities out there that teach about watersheds. Here are a few of the best ones you can use in your classroom. These include hands-on investigations that get students actively engaged in learning.
- Find Your Watershed – Environmental Protection Agency
- Watershed Activity – Environmental Protection Agency
- Mapping a Watershed History Lesson – Longwood University
- Getting to Know the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Lesson – National Geographic
- Virginia’s Water Resources Toolkit – Clean Virginia Waterways
- More Watershed Related Activities – Bay Backpack