We all live in a watershed. What is a watershed? Easy, if you are standing on ground right now, just look down. You’re standing, like everyone else, in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as lake, bay or stream.
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. Some are large, like Cayuga Lake’s watershed, and some are small, like Duck Lake’s watershed. Some are local creeks and rivers, like Crane Brook or the Owasco River. Activities that happen within the watershed can impact the water into which the watershed’s land area drains.
So what can we all do to help protect our water quality on watersheds scale? Here are some suggestions:
- Become educated on the issues. Protecting water quality is complicated and includes many variables. The first step in this effort is to learn the issues before strides can be taken to make a change.
- Get involved with your local government on issues that impact water quality. Many decisions that affect water quality happen at a local level. Stay apprised of local initiatives, such as zoning, comprehensive planning, development proposals and road ditch maintenance. On our waters page you can find the water quality initiatives and plans for your lake that are already established or underway. Let your local elected officials know that water quality is a priority for you.
- Join an organization such as the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The Finger Lakes Land Trust’s mission is to conserve forever the lands and waters of the Finger Lakes region, ensuring scenic vistas, clean water, local foods, and wild places for everyone. Other water quality protection organizations may have water protection goals that you may be interested in supporting. . Find the organizations that are working to protect your lake here.
- Find an event to attend. Events range from nature workshops for children and families to restoration activities like trash clean-ups and invasive plant removals. Go to our Facebook page for events.
- Visit our waters. Public access points are places anyone can visit to swim, hike, paddle or simply enjoy the history and natural beauty of Cayuga County. Providing access to natural areas helps the public build an emotional connection with the rivers, forests and wildlife of our area.
- Support local agriculture. Buying local can reduce the pollution associated with transporting goods over long distances and helps our local agriculture businesses to thrive, providing them with more resources that can be used towards implementing best management practices. Check local listings for farmers markets and community-supported agriculture.
- Become a citizen scientist. Join a group and participate in sampling programs or document water quality changes in a stream or lake near you.
- Educate our children on the importance of water quality protection. This young generation will someday make decisions regarding activities impacting water quality. We want to make sure they understand why this is such an important responsibility.
- Contact the Cayuga County WQMA to be enrolled in their newsletter.