Erosion Control

Now Entering the Watershed

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Every once in a while, we run across results of a survey of local residents—often performed as part of the public outreach and education effort for a city’s stormwater permit—that gauges people’s knowledge of their environment. Questions often include things like, “Where does stormwater go once it enters the storm drain?” (a surprising number of people believe the water is treated, even in cities with separate sewer systems), or they ask people to name local creeks, lakes, or watersheds. (Some respondents inevitably say they don’t live in a watershed at all.) Other surveys ask about causes of water pollution; many people are surprised to learn that sediment is one of the most prevalent causes of stream degradation, or even that it’s considered a pollutant at all.

This little news item from Alabama reports on roadside signs that have appeared near the city of Dothan: “Entering Limestone Creek Watershed” and “Entering Cypress Creek Watershed.” The signs are part of the city’s public education effort for its stormwater permit. The city believes that knowing the names and locations of watersheds, streams, and other features will help residents become more aware of them and how they’re managed. It plans to add at lest two similar signs each year—an affordable goal—until all the local watersheds are identified.

Do you think this tactic—simply pointing out the locations of watersheds in an unobtrusive way—will have an effect? These signs, when people notice them, might start a conversation (“What exactly is a watershed, anyway?”)—say, between kids and parents driving past—that wouldn’t otherwise have taken place.

Are there similar things—road signs, stream markers, educational signage at recreational spots—in your area? What are some of the most useful or creative ideas you’ve seen? EC_bug_web

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  1. As a watershed management specialist, I think this is a great idea. There are so many people that don’t really know what a watershed is or how to define one. A lot of people think that it is a specially designated landscape unit and that they don’t have to worry because “I don’t live in a watershed”. So I think that any kind of affordable and sustainable public education effort about watersheds is helpful, how to define them and and that everyone lives in watershed.

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