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  • Writer's pictureWendy De la Garza

Your Backyard Watershed

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

What is a watershed?

Any land that drains into a body of water is a watershed. In Florida we are surrounded by water! Bodies of water could include rivers, lakes, streams, springs, bays, and oceans.

Water is important for all living things to survive. We need clean, safe water.

The surrounding land provides a way to filter our water before polluting its final destination.

If you’ve ever been puddle jumping with your kids on a very rainy day you have probably seen water rush down the street trying to find a place to settle.

See the pavement here? The water can’t soak into the ground. In addition, all the fertilizer from the grass is flowing instead directly into Tampa Bay. The dog walkers that don’t pick up their pet’s waste also contaminate our water. Litter not picked up contaminates our water. Plastic trash turns into microplastic and contaminates our water.

When there are too many of these things in our water, algae over-blooms because there are too many nutrients. It blocks the sunlight. Then plants can’t grow. Fish and mammals like manatee die. For example, if the sunlight can’t penetrate through the water because it’s too dark, seagrasses can’t grow. Manatees then starve to death.

This is our personal backyard. The tide washes up all of people’s trash from the Bay, street, boats, wind, storms, etc. The tangled mess of Red Mangrove roots help catch it all.

Here’s what my family does to preserve our backyard watershed:

1. we don’t fertilize our yard at all

2. we use native plants as much as we can—needs less fertilizer and water, and cycles nutrients effectively

3. we keep our cats indoors to save the native animals from being killed, and with an indoor litter box

4. we love the living shoreline we have, and added oyster gardens to help clean our water

5. we pick up trash in the neighborhood

Try looking in your neighborhood to see how you can help! We found pervious pavement in ours that also helps water soak into the ground before it runs off into the storm water drains.

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