Best Management Practice Scavenger Hunt

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We all live in a watershed. Watersheds are natural boundaries
where water cycles into a common source, be it a river, wetland, or
ocean. The hydrologic cycle is the engine that moves water around
the watershed. First, water falls to the earth as precipitation.
Imagine the earth as a sponge, with the soil soaking this
precipitation up to be stored for plant uptake. What is not
absorbed and stored in the soil runs off as overland flow downhill
to a water source. From here, the sun changes the water into vapor
through evaporation that goes into the atmosphere. Plants also
contribute water to the atmosphere through a process called
transpiration. In this process, excess water is evaporated to cool
the plant. Together, evaporation and transpiration, or
evapotranspiration, contribute water into the atmosphere that
then falls down again as precipitation to complete the cycle.
Human activity has an enormous impact on watershed quality. As
areas develop, hard surfaces called impervious cover such as
rooftops, parking lots, and streets replace the soil and increase the
amount of water that cannot be stored. This water runs off, and is
aptly named runoff. Runoff can pick up pollutants and bring them
into a water source, decreasing the water quality for all those
plants, animals, and humans living in and depending upon the
watershed. Pollution may be further categorized into point and
non-point source pollution. Point source pollution comes directly
from a source that you can point to, such as a factory or dump site.
Non-point source pollution is a cumulative effect of people going
about their daily lives, whether it be fertilizing the lawn or driving
an automobile. Imagine if all the cars you saw on the road dropped
just a little oil on the asphalt. That little bit of oil then compounds
into lots of oil to be captured by runoff and deposited into a water
source!
Thankfully, there are measures to reduce pollution and improve
watershed quality. Installing “green roofs” replaces the hard cover
of rooftops with vegetation that can reduce runoff by storing
amounts of water during a rainfall event. Pervious pavement,
which replaces conventional pavement, allows water to enter into
pores in the pavement where it can infiltrate the ground and be
filtered and stored. Rain gardens and vegetative filter strips are
other landscape features that also retain runoff to reduce the
intensity of a storm event. These practices, called “Best
Management Practices” (BMP’s) ensure that humans can
minimize impacts on the environment and create a sustainable
future for all!
Watershed Word Search
BMP
EVAPORATION
EVAPOTRANSPIRATION
GREENROOFS
HYDROLOGICCYCLE
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Where do most people get their drinking water? If you don’t know, find out!
What can you do at your school, house or neighborhood that would reduce water pollution?
Mercer Museum:
What’s Water Got To Do With It?
1. Start your scavenger hunt at Point A on the map.
Look for the weathervane on top of the museum. It is called The
Rainmaker. If you look closely you can see that the figure is
throwing down an object that looks like a sword.
What does the sword symbolize or represent?
Look around you. What possible water pollutants might begin
here in this parking lot and on the grounds of this building?
Why do you think the surface of the porous pavement has
pores? (Look closely the surface looks like black rice crispy
treats)
2. Walk over to the garden at Point B on the map.
Do you recognize any of the plants in this garden?
What is different about this garden than those you have seen
in this or your neighborhood in the past?
How do you think this garden reduces water pollution?
Besides reducing water pollution, what else might this garden
provide that was not provided by the lawn which was here
before the rain garden was planted?
3. Walk up the slope and stand on Ashland Street above
Point C on the map..
What is on the roof?
What happens to rain that falls on a regular roof?
What do you think happens to the rain that falls on the green
roof that is different than what happens on a conventional
roof?
If it rains very hard, what do you think might happen that
would involve the rain garden?
4. If time allows, walk to Points D and E on the map. Look at the tile on the corner walls.
Which of these tiles depict or show things that might depend upon clean water?
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