Land use and Water Quality in your Watershed
Goal Students learn how land use affects water quality.
Objective Students will:
- Define watershed;
- Identify land use and water quality impacts;
- Research and identify pollutants associated with particular types of land use found in their watershed.
Time Two to three, 45 minute class periods (may need another class period to finish research)
Science TEKS Biology 2(A, C, D) Environmental Systems 2(A,C,D); 4(C); 5(A,B,F); 8(A,D) Aquatic Science 2(A,D,E); 3(B,D); 5(D); 8(A,B,C); 10(C)
Watershed - An an area of land that drains water into a particular creek, river, lake, or aquifer. Water drains downhill, so hills, ridges and other high points define the boundaries of a watershed.
Land Use - the human activity or economic function associated with a specific piece of land; the way the land is used in a watershed (e.g. residential, industrial).
Headwaters - the source of a creek or where the creek begins.
Mouth - the point where a creek enters a larger body of water.
Runoff - water that flows over the surface of the land into a creek, river, or lake; may carry a variety of pollutants.
Pervious Surface - a land surface such as grass or soil which allows water to filter through the ground.
Impervious Surface - a land surface such as a road, parking lot, sidewalk, rooftop, or other surface that does not allow water to filter through.
Point Source - a single identifiable source that discharges pollutants into the environment (e.g. sewer, ditch, pipe).
Non-point Source Pollution - pollution that cannot be traced to a single point because it comes from many individual sources or a widespread area.
Lesson 1-Part I: Land Use and Flow Paths in Your Watershed
Materials Some materials are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing
- Watershed model
- Student Handout #1: Land Use and Pollutants: Causes and Effects
- 1990 and 2000 Land Use maps of your watershed
- Anderson High School (Bull Creek Watershed)
- Austin High School (Lady Bird Lake)
- Barton Creek Watershed
- Bowie High School (Slaughter Creek Watershed)
- Crockett High School (Williamson Creek Watershed)
- Garza High School (Boggy Creek Watershed)
- Hyde Park Baptist Church (Waller Creek Watershed)
- Lanier High School (Little Walnut Creek Watershed)
- McCallum High School (Shoal Creek Watershed)
- Reagan High School (Fort Branch Watershed)
- Travis High School (Blunn Creek Watershed)
- Westlake High School (Eanes Creek Watershed)
- Student Activity Worksheet-Lesson 1:
- Map transparency
- Bull Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Barton Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Slaughter Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Williamson Creek Transparency Map
- Boggy Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Little Walnut Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Blunn Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Eanes Creek Watershed Transparency Map
- Call 974-2550, to arrange for a watershed model.
- Copy Student Handout #1. Land Use and Pollutants: Causes and Effects for each student
- Copies of 1990 and 2000 Land Use maps for each student group (above).
- Copies of Student Worksheet-Lesson 1: Land Use and Water Quality in your watershed (for each student)
Facilitating the Activity
- Define a watershed- A watershed is an area of land that drains water into a particular creek, river, lake, or aquifer. Water drains downhill, so hills, ridges and other high points define the boundaries of a watershed. The water that flows over the surface of the land and drains into a body of water is called runoff. The cleaner the land (i.e. watershed) the cleaner the runoff and the receiving body of water. If the land (i.e. watershed) is polluted, then runoff is polluted and the receiving body of water becomes polluted.
- Do Watershed Model demonstration- Allow students to rain on the watershed using the watering can. Focus on the downhill pathways the water follows to drain to the creek, and the cleanliness of the water as it flows over the land. Tell students the red food coloring represents pollution. Allow students to drop one drop of food coloring on different areas of the watershed. Rain again and discuss the flow of pollutants from the land (i.e. watershed) to the creek.
- Define Land Use- Land Use is how land has been changed for human use, e.g. for a school, road, park, preserve, etc. Studying land use is a quick, practical method of locating the source of pollutants found within a watershed. Watershed scientists are particularly interested in studying land use to determine the impact it will have on water quality. The first step in assessing land usage in a watershed is to observe how the land surrounding the waterway is being used. Different types of land use generate different types of pollutants, which can runoff into the local body of water. Land use practices in the Austin area can affect the quality of our creeks and ground water in various ways that you will research and identify.
- Identify Land Use Impacts to Water Quality- Discuss student handout #1 Land Use and Pollutants:Causes and Effects. Students will use this handout to answer questions on the student sheet.
- Student Land Use Map Activity- Arrange students in groups and give each group 1990 and 2000 Land Use maps of their watershed. Show transparency of 2000 map. Locate and define the headwaters, mouth, and the different kinds of land use. Give groups time to complete Lesson #1: Land Use and Water Quality In Your Watershed.