A watershed is all theland that drains runoff from precipitation into a body of water, such as acreek, river, lake, bay or ocean.Watershedscan be composed of creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, wetlands, groundwaterand oceans. Most water will begin its long journey far from where it ends up.The boundary of a watershed is the ridgeline of high land surrounding it, likethe edge of a bowl.
Another term for watershed is “drainage basin.” Asrainwater and snowmelt run downhill, they carry whatever is on the land, suchas oil dripping from cars, trash and debris on streets, or exposed soil fromconstruction or farming to the nearest water body. Every living organism needswater to survive. Many factors influence water and its quality, whether they bea factory polluting a river upstream, agricultural farms using poor practicesthat affect the nearby stream, or urban families investing in rain barrels toconserve water.Oftentimes, city andcounty planners overlook upstream and downstream land use activities when theywrite land use plans and zoning resolutions. For instance, large parcels ofland that abut a stream may be zoned for agriculture. Downstream from thislocation, one may notice that stream water is warmer and stream health isdegraded. Recognition of upstream/downstream issues has generated a greatermovement towards regional environmental planning, especially since the 1980s.
Environmental pollutants do not obey political boundaries.This study examinesseveral parameters and investigates water and soil quality. Water can becomepolluted from misuse of land. Such activities as over farming, paving,deforestation, and urbanization can increase runoff, decrease stream cover, andpollute stream, rivers, and lakes. Among the leading pollutants are sediments,bacteria, nutrients, and metals. These are derived both from point and nonpointsources.
People use water for agriculture, industry, manufacturing, power,transportation, and recreation. Point sources include facilities such as sewagetreatment plants and factory discharges. Nonpoint source pollution includesexcess fertilizers from lawns and farms, oil from roads, overflows from citysewers, and animal waste.
Point sources of pollution include examples such as factoriesand wastewater treatment plants, old landfills, abandoned mines, andunderground storage tanks. More difficult to control, however, are nonpointsource pollutants. This is because they derive from diffuse sources and flowoverland into surface waters.Thehypothesis asks if water and soil test results are inappropriate for a specificland use, then what recommendations must be made regarding proposed land use?Often there may be regulations regarding the water and soil conditions thatmust be met before the specific land use is implemented. The values in Table A forthe soil macronutrient analysis are those provided by the EnvironmentalLiteracy Council-Teacher copy under possible variations. The normal values arethose that were in the lab report in the sections that detail the specificparameters.SoilpH is the degree of acidity oralkalinity of the soil. It is also referred to as soil reaction, thismeasurement is based on the pH scale.
Aluminum is a prime contributor to soilacidity. Lime is used to counteract the aluminum in the soil. At low pH levels,aluminum and manganese become soluble and may become toxic to plants. Tomaintain good crop health, pH in soil must be kept between 6.0 and 6.5. Above6.
5 manganese usually becomes problematic to plant health. In this analysis,the tested value is pH 7.0, which is slightly higher than ideal soil pH. Tobalance the soil pH, additional lime may be added to amend the soil in order tooptimize plant growth in the area.
Nitrogen is essential to nearly all biochemicalprocesses, which sustain plant and animal life, and is thereby a criticalmacronutrient to plants. Nitrogen helps the above-ground growth of plants andis a component of the chlorophyll in plants. Excess nitrogen can havedeleterious environmental impacts. For plants it can also delay crop maturityand weaken stems. Nitrogen requirements for soil differ greatly depending onthe type of crop that is being grown and the climate of the area. In thisanalysis, the tested value is 20 to 115 pounds per acre, which is within normallimits for Nitrogen levels in soil.
In this range, the ideal crops that couldgrow and their respective ideal Nitrogen levels would be: cabbage 100, apples30, oranges 90, and tomatoes 100. For other crops such as corn (240) or alfalfa(415), the Nitrogen requirement would not be met, and additional fertilizer maybe required to amend the soil. Phosphorous is the macronutrient thatstrengthens plant roots and increases overall yield. It also improves thepalatability of plants and increases their resistance to disease. In terms ofthe amount of phosphorous needed per acre of land, nutrient requirements againvary by type of crop. Most crops need no more than 100 pounds per acre.
Forgarden crops, at least 150 pounds per acre phosphorous is needed and as much as200 to 300 pounds is desirable. Since Southern states in the U.S. have a longergrowing season, they can get by with about one-half of the phosphorous asNorthern states.
In this analysis, the tested value is 100 to 200 pounds peracre, which is within normal limits. The foliage is expected to have strong andsturdy root systems. Potassium imparts increased vigor and diseaseresistance to plants. It is responsible for producing strong, stiff stalks,increased plumpness in grain and seeds, and is essential in the development ofchlorophyll. In mixed fertilizers its concentration is denoted by the thirdfigure given. For example, a formula of 6-10-8 contains 8% potassium.
Soilshigh in clay usually have high potassium levels, as potassium is either found”fixed” in the interlayers of clay minerals or found in primary minerals. Thepounds per acre can vary widely for potassium depending on the crop beinggrown. While apples require only 35 pounds of potassium per acre, corn andcelery may need up to 240 pounds. In this analysis, thetested value is 100 to 180 pounds per acre, which is within normal limits.Values for the water qualityparameter analysis in Table B, are based on information for Fulton Countydrinking water analysis. The values for each parameter are presented versusnormal values for each parameter. The normal values are those that were in thelab report in the sections that detail the specific parameters. These valuesmay not accurately represent the normal values for the watershed in the stateof Georgia.
They are merely guidelines. Additionally, these values are fortreated drinking water. They are not for “natural” untreated water that maysupport any marine life.pH is a measure thatdescribes the level of acidity of a solution. Values ranges from 0, very acidicwith a great deal of hydrogen ions, to 14, extremely basic with a highconcentration of negatively charged hydroxyl ions. Rainwater is typicallyaround 5.
6 pH. In this analysis, the tested pH value is 7.2 to 7.4, which isslightly basic and within normal limits for drinking water. If this was a valuefor water found in a lake or a stream, most fish can tolerate pH values ofabout 5.
0 to 9.0. Waters with a pH of at least 6.
5 are needed to find healthyfish populations. This would still be a value amenable to support fishpopulations. Water hardness is theamount of dissolved calcium, magnesium, and iron present in water. When wateris hard, one may have a difficult time getting water to make soapsuds. Hardwater creates a build-up of scale on hot water heaters, showers, and porcelainsurfaces; that is, where water can be found pooling or in residue. The scale iscaused by calcium and magnesium, which form a precipitate.
Hardness isdescribed in milligrams per liter of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). In thisanalysis, the tested water hardness value is 25 mg/L, which is “soft” water andwithin normal limits for drinking water.Carbon dioxide is an odorless,colorless gas produced during the respiration cycle of animals, plants andbacteria.
It is produced by all animals and many bacteria and absorbed by greenplants in the photosynthetic process. Since green plants photosynthesize morein the presence of sunlight, a larger quantity of oxygen is used, and carbondioxide enters water during overnight hours. During these times, fish have aharder time respiring; conditions are more difficult when water is warmer. Mostfish can tolerate carbon dioxide levels of 20 mg/L (milligrams per liter),because most fish are able to tolerate this carbon dioxide level withoutharmful effects.
Heavy cloud cover canaffect plants’ ability to photosynthesize. Carbon dioxide quickly combines inwater to form carbonic acid, a weak acid. The presence of carbonic acid inwaterways may be beneficial or detrimental depending on the water’s pH andalkalinity. If the water is alkaline, or a high pH, the carbonic acid willneutralize the liquid. However, if the water is already quite acid, or a lowpH, the carbonic acid will worsen the conditions by making it even more acidic.
In this analysis, the Carbon Dioxide value is 1.00 to 1.06 mg/L, which iswithin normal limits as per EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards fordrinking water. Fish would avoid these waters. Conclusions:Human activities commonlyaffect the distribution, quantity, and chemical quality of water resources. Therange in human activities that affect the interaction of ground water andsurface water is broad. The effects of human activities on the quantity andquality of water resources are felt over a wide range of space and time. Theextent of the effects can involve distances from a few feet to thousands ofsquare miles.
The plants of natural andagricultural ecosystems depend on the soil in which they grow. Soil is thedynamic medium of organic and inorganic particles through which plants obtainoxygen for their roots and water and minerals for the entire plant. Regardingchemical properties of soil, or pH levels refers to how acidic is the soil, orhow basic, or alkaline, is that soil. This can be affected by climate, theparent material, and the vegetation that lives in the area. Depending on whattype of soil we have there, sometimes also determines what types of plants cangrow in that area, what type of organisms can live there. Minerals in rockparticles are also important for healthy soil. They supply plants with thebasic nutrients for life.
Climate, Vegetation, andWeathering are all factors in soil consistency. Topography may also effectsoil, water moving across the top of the soil can affect how strong the soilmay grab onto the roots of plants. Consistence is a description of a soil’sphysical condition at various moisture contents as evidenced by the behavior ofthe soil to mechanical stress or manipulation. Descriptive adjectives such ashard, loose, friable, firm, plastic, and sticky are used for consistence. Soilconsistence is of fundamental importance to the engineer who must move the materialor compact it efficiently. The consistence of a soil is determined to a largeextent by the texture of the soil, but is related also to other properties suchas content of organic matter and type of clay minerals.
Healthy, fertile soilis a mixture of water, air, minerals, and organic matter. In soil, organicmatter consists of plant and animal material that is in the process ofdecomposing. When it has fully decomposed it is called humus. This humus isimportant for soil structure because it holds individual mineral particlestogether in clusters. Ideal soil has a granular, crumbly structure that allowswater to drain through it, and allows oxygen and carbon dioxide to move freelybetween spaces within the soil and the air above.
Successful gardening dependson good soil. One of the best ways to improve soil fertility is to add organicmatter. It helps soil hold important plant nutrients. By adding organic matterto sandy soil, you improve the ability of the soil to retain water. In a claysoil, humus will loosen the soil to make it crumblier. You can increase theorganic matter in your garden by adding compost or applying mulch.
Applicationof organic matter to the soil adds carbon, which promotes the growth ofbeneficial bacteria, which increases the likelihood of hearty plants. Anotherbenefit is when crops grow and demand more nutrients, added organic matter canbe used as plant food. Remember that every time you disturb soil by turning ortilling, oxygen also is added to the soil.
This increases microbial activity,which feeds on organic matter. Therefore, soil disturbance can decrease thesoil’s organic matter reserves and should be kept to a minimum.For example, theChattahoochee River drains an area of 8,770 square miles and is one of the mostheavily used surface water resources in Georgia. The Chattahoochee Riveroriginates in the southeast corner of Union County, Georgia, in the southernAppalachian Mountains and flows southwesterly through the Atlanta metropolitanarea before terminating in Lake Seminole, at the Georgia-Florida border. Theriver runs for a total distance of about 434 miles.
The Chattahoochee RiverBasin is inhabited by a variety of freshwater aquatic species including theAmerican alligator. It is also home to several state-threatened or endangeredplant species. Besides the flora and fauna that depend on the river, theChattahoochee supplies 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s drinking water. There are severalindustries that are authorized to discharge wastewater into the ChattahoocheeRiver Basin pursuant to NPDES permits. Point sources. The 1972 act introducedthe National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which is a permitsystem for regulating point sources of pollution. Polluted storm-water is theprimary cause of water quality problems in the Chattahoochee River Basin, whichcontains roughly 500 industrial sites that are not complying with clean waterlaws.
The Chattahoochee alsocontributes to agricultural use, especially timber, which is the leading cashcrop in the basin. Total farmland in the basin has decreased since the 1970s,but poultry production has increased. Crops with the largest harvested acreageinclude peanuts, corn, soybeans and cotton. The river also supports certainspecies for the fishing industry.In terms of energy use,the Chattahoochee contributes towards power generation.
The river is the singlelargest water use in the basin. Sixteen of the Chattahoochee River Basin’s 22power-generating plants are located along the main stem of the ChattahoocheeRiver. The river also supports several dams, hydroelectric dams, andreservoirs.Other land uses of theChattahoochee include the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area whichincludes 48 miles of river and 16 parks to preserve the beauty and recreationalvalue of the river. Lake Lanier encompasses 38,000 surface acres of water with540 miles of shoreline. There are many recreational areas with boat ramps andcamping facilities.
Marinas dot the shoreline and sailing, kayaking and boatingclubs provide training and social activities. The Elachee Nature Science Centerand the Lanier Museum of Natural History offer educational opportunities. In terms of environmentalconcerns, in the Chattahoochee River Basin, there are approximately 183 riversand streams listed as waters not supporting their designated uses. Theseimpaired waters include roughly 1,000 miles of the Chattahoochee River Basin’swaterways. In 2000, the city of Atlanta was forced by a federal consent orderto remove 568 tons of trash, including seven automobiles, from streams thatfeed into the Chattahoochee. Asmetropolitan Atlanta has experienced unprecedented growth during the last 30-plusyears, severe sewage discharge problems and sediment inflow have affected waterquality.
In 1998, Mayor Campbell signeda Federal Consent Decree committing the City of Atlanta to an acceleratedprogram of activities designed to further improve water quality in metroAtlanta streams in addition to the Chattahoochee and South Rivers. In 1999, theConsent Decree was amended to added projects that would eliminate water qualityviolations from sanitary sewer overflows.The Chattahoochee is avital part of Georgia and public awareness has helped to spur many educationaland volunteer organizations to help to clean and maintain the river. PossibleSources of Error:Sincethis experiment was not actually performed and therefore no actual observationsoccurred.
This report is written as a hypothetical presentation as if theactual experiment was performed. No errors were observed however potentialerrors would include accuracy with failure in water and/or soil testingprocess, mistakes in vegetation identification, mistakes in soil identification(Munsell guide and soil survey), mistakes in identifying hydrologic features ofa landscape. Transportation to a suitable site may be difficult for some.
Ifthis is the case, the laboratory may be run without water quality samplingalthough this will limit its usefulness. Nonetheless, soil tests as well asland use studies can be conducted. Improvementsand Further Investigation:One improvement would be toperform a macroinvertebrate analysis (seines available from suppliers listed).Another variation would be a long-term report about writing and implementing ariparian zone restoration plan. This will be an ongoing process so that eachyear students will build analyze a data base, perform further research, andexecute a hands-on restoration project. Other variations couldinclude a wetland survey.
To do this, the instructor must be familiar with howto perform a delineation. As an alternative, a professional delineator from anenvironmental consulting firm or the state office of the EPA can be asked toinstruct the class on wetland delineation. You should allow at least threeclass periods to instruct the class on wetland delineation; a minimum for eachof the three parameters of hydric soil, hydrologic conditions, and hydrophyticvegetation. Familiarization with a Munsell guide and wetland vegetation studywill be crucial to a successful study. The area you survey in your study areashould be as follows:Beginning at least onemeter from the bank of the creek or river (to avoid the effect of riverdeposited soils on your survey), select three equidistant plots that measuretwo meters by two meters and perform a vegetation inventory of each canopylayer. Decide whether the area is a wetland.
Remember, to be a wetland, it musthave hydric soils, proper hydrology, and hydrologic vegetation.