I was walking along a small creek on my property last week and started to think about the creek’s watershed. Watershed is the area of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. My creek begins where a spring bubbles up from a nearby pasture and a hillside that also directs rain water into the creek. Since the creek is near a road, the storm water runoff is also a source for the creek. What is found in the watershed could find its way to the creek and further.
That little creek’s watershed is a part of many other watersheds. It is part of the Locust Fork River’s watershed… the Locust part of the Black Warrior River watershed… that is part of the Tombigbee River watershed… that is part of the Mobile River Basin watershed… and on into the Gulf of Mexico. It is a long way for a drop of rain to travel.
As I walked further, I found a fast food styrofoam cup in the creek; undoubtedly carried there by the storm water runoff from the road. Did it accidentally blow out of a neighbor’s truck bed or was it thrown out of the car window? Maybe someone picnicking on the creek bank left it there. As it deteriorates it may end up in a fish’s belly, possibly clogging up the digestive system resulting in death.
Have you ever thought about how long it takes something to biodegrade, to decay and to become absorbed back into the environment? Organic material like a French fry decays in days, but the bag takes two to five months. The foam cup containing cola to wash down the fry takes about 500 YEARS! A glass bottle could stay on the bottom of the creek FOREVER.
Now you know how a watershed works. The watershed IS the river. Watersheds need to be monitored and cared for just as the streams in our county do. It takes all of us, including businesses and industries, protecting the watershed to keep a river healthy. The foam cup is not gone just because it was thrown off a bridge into the river.
Ah-ha! You have just experienced a “watershed moment” – a point in time that marks an important change. Like the day you got your braces off your teeth. Like the day you understood how a watershed works. You can be part of the solution, not the pollution. The Locust Fork, Blackburn Fork, Calvert Prong, and all other streams always need your help. Make sure your friend, neighbor, sister, and brother put trash where trash goes… in a trash bin.