Taking Care of our Watershed We all have a role to play!
"Little Luckiamute River," by Gary Giddens
One way to help local rivers, lands and communities become more resilient to the effects of climate change is to help keep as much moisture as possible in the ground and in our streams. As temperatures increase and precipitation decreases, what we do to alter our habits and adapt to a new ‘normal’ matters more than ever. Shallow streams heat up more quickly, threatening the survival of our cold water dependent salmon and trout populations. Increased demand for water from farms, gardens, landscaping and household use depletes our groundwater reserves, which can take decades or longer to recharge. Water falling on hot, dark impervious surfaces warms water and shuttles it away from the soil into gutters and drainpipes where it is carried away far from our streams and aquifers.
By finding ways to reduce our water usage, we can help ensure that enough water is available for all of us. Careful and conscientious stewarding of our precious water resources has never been more crucial to the health of our lands and rivers, and the well-being of our communities. When we each to do our part to limit how much water we use in our homes and yards, we ensure that more moisture remains in the rivers and aquifers and our atmosphere—which can help mitigate the impacts of hotter temperatures and reduce the severity of wildfire. Check out the list of ways you can be a great water (and watershed) steward below, which is adapted from Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) resources about using our water resources wisely.
18 Ways to Be a Great Watershed Steward
Plant perennial, drought-tolerant native plants, and consider xeriscaping to help reduce fire risk.
Install drip irrigation instead of using a garden hose or sprinkler system.
Harvest and store rainwater using rain barrels.
Add mulch to your garden and landscaping to prevent moisture loss.
Water your plants early in the morning or late at night to reduce evaporation, and make sure sprinklers are not inadvertently watering the sidewalk or street.
Recycle household water (for example, when waiting for warm water from your tap, capture the running cold water for another use).
Move your mower blade up one notch and allow your grass to grow a little higher (longer grass leads to less water loss through evaporation).
Plant your garden in small blocks instead of long rows for easier watering and greater efficiency.
If you’re resurfacing your patio or driveway, consider using permeable pavers or pervious concrete.
Add compost to your garden to help retain water.
Be sure to check your garden hose for leaks and replace worn-out washers on a regular basis.
When planting your garden, group plants by watering needs to increase efficiency.
Install a water timer — look for one with a soil moisture sensor that detects how wet the soil is and prevents overwatering.
Disconnect downspouts from storm drain system and divert into a rain garden or rain barrel instead.
If you have a fish tank, don’t throw that water out when you clean it — it’s great for your plants!
Resist the urge to wash down driveways, walk-ways and patios. Sweep them off instead.
Replace grass around tree trunks with mulch, wood chips or gravel. Grass competes with the tree for nutrients and water!
Trim your trees on a regular basis — fewer branches and leaves means less water loss.