We are starting to think about watersheds in addition to our understandings of water flows in nature.
In geography, a drainage basin is an area of land where all flowing surface water converges to the lowest elevation, typically a creek or river that flows into a larger body of water until it reaches the sea. We call this drainage basis a watershed. For example, the National Geographic has a picture of the Mississippi Watershed.
For our Water Catchment Initiative, we are thinking of the roofs of all our buildings as also part of our local watershed. At present, all the rainwater from these surfaces flow into the storm drain system of the local municipal or regional government. We want to interrupt that flow and 'catch' the stream of water on our properties, so we have our own supplies of fresh water on hand.
You may have noticed that we are having more extreme weather events in our province and our region. These extremes include atmospheric rivers that cause flooding due to high volumes of rain water in a short period of time. These extremes also include extremely hot, dry summers (heat domes), when our municipal government needs to impose restrictions on our use of water for gardening to make sure there is enough water for household use (cooking, flushing toilets, washing dishes and laundry, etc.).
It is time to turn our local community into our own drainage basin, a watershed of rain catchment into a system of water barrels, tanks and troughs. These water containers give us access to fresh water for our gardens, and for animals who need a place to get a drink.
A second benefit of setting up our own water catchment systems is that we will have a network of water containers on hand in the case of an environmental emergency, for example, an earthquake, that might interrupt our access to water from the municipal system.
How much water could we collect in our watershed? How much water do we need to keep our gardens watered during the dry months? How much money can we save using our water containers instead of drawing of the municipal system the rest of the year?
These are questions we will explore and learn about as we implement our water catchment initiative.
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