Watershed Approach to Land and Water Management

At times there are conflicts based on political boundaries and managing water issues. It’s not a lack of concern for water quality but an increase in care for what impacts people see right around them. Caring for our water and infrastructure is best done by approaching issues watershed wide. The problem is that a watershed can pass through more than one county, several townships, even multiple states or countries. Still more issues come when those downstream feel they are receiving polluted waters due to those upstream. The positive side is that there are many people and entities that are concerned about the health of the watershed overall.

Protecting Our Water is Everyone’s Goal

It’s important to declare that we are living here together, and in the end, have similar goals in mind. Most all of us are accountable for some amount of nonpoint source pollution. Nobody is out there with a focus on polluting waters. Everyone would like work done to focus on cleaning up waters the best way possible. This is where the watershed approach comes into play. Working together, starting with the most critical sub basins or drainage areas, we can work together to reduce pollution in our watershed overall. According to the EPA website: “The watershed approach is a coordinating framework for environmental management that focuses public and private sector efforts to address the highest priority problems within hydrologically-defined geographic areas, taking into consideration both ground and surface water flow.”

Nonpoint Source PollutionNonpoint Source Pollution in the Great Lakes

In the Great Lakes we have many watersheds with significant nonpoint source pollution issues. This pollution is delivered through runoff from various land types and from storm water systems. Determining a course of action to remedy these issues and implementing it must be done locally, by the community. Local people are the major driving force in these changes and this is a great opportunity to Michigan watersheds. It is important to be clear that it is not just a cleanup effort of past pollution, it is a change in current practices to stop polluting. We as a society are continuing to pollute our waters through nonpoint source pollution which includes not only various chemicals but also introduction of excessive levels of sediment and nutrients.

Waterways Connect to Natural Areas and the Great Lakes

Another major issue is thinking that drains and our natural waterways are somehow not connected. The system of drains, agricultural and municipal storm water, connect into the waters of natural streams, lakes, and wetlands. As a whole we don’t have drains at all, but waterways. These waterways connect to the water that we use regularly and consider our natural resource. There is an abundance of water in the Great Lakes. It is questionable if this water is always great. In the watershed all waters are connected and every watercourse eventually reaches one of the Great Lakes.

In conclusion, we must learn to adapt. The impact we had on the water quality has increased over time. As a community we have learned to reduce our pollution in many ways, but we continue to pollute. Every time it rains and water runs across the surface of the ground, pollutants enter our waterways. Water in a storm drain or an agricultural drain does find its way into the Great Lakes.

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