Friday, June 18, 2010

Slow Water?

Have you ever been in the forest during a passing summer thunderstorm? The air is warm and muggy, a sudden gust of wind stirs the trees above, and the skies open up with rain. No matter how heavy the rain is, there are a few minutes to run for shelter, because the leaves of the trees hold back the first bit of rain. Eventually the leaves are soaked, and water starts dripping on the ground. Most of this water falls on thick leaf litter, and quickly soaks into the ground. Unless it is a very heavy or slow-moving storm, not much water runs off at all. After the storm passes, which usually doesn't take very long, the trees keep dripping water for quite some time, and droplets coat the leaves in the understory.


During most storms, there isn't a lot of water rushing into rivers and streams. The water from summer thunderstorms, melting snow, and spring drizzle soaks into the ground, and seeps out of springs into creeks over time.

Now, imagine the same storm in the city. The pouring rain splashes on roofs, rushes into drainspouts, down gutters, and into drains. In some cities, these drains also contain sewer lines, and the rush of water can wash sewage into rivers and lakes. All kinds of trash, oil, and other undesirable things also wash down the gutter.


A few hours later, everything has dried up. Not much water soaked into the ground, so not much water is released later from springs, either.

So what's the story with 'slow water'? Well, first of all, this blog exists to talk about and share thoughts on how water moves - in natural areas, agricultural areas, and cities. Secondly, it exists to discuss ways YOU can slow down your water - let it soak into the ground or be used by plants, instead of going into gutters and causing pollution.  And, thirdly, it addresses a bunch of very neat technology- and demonstration- based ways to share information about water, watersheds, weather, and nature with lots of different people.   A lot of what I post will probably have to do with Pittsburgh, Vermont, or southern California, because those are areas I am more familiar with. Please do feel free to email me at naturalist.charlie at gmail dot com, if you have any other thoughts! And don't forget to enjoy your water! Everyone is in a watershed, and every time it rains, tiny creeks and rivers surround you!

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