Story By: Chaneen Haler | Community Relations Coordinator
Did you know the water that flows through your backyard ends up in the Atlantic Ocean? Water is one of the most beautiful natural features of our planet. Ponds and lakes add a sparkling blue to our vistas; rivers and streams create movement among steady trees and strong boulders. Waterfalls and rapids bring an element of calming and powerful sound to nature’s ambiance. Water bodies support unique lifeforms, contributing to diversity in every corner of the world. On top of it all, water gives life to all living things. These life-giving waterways are all connected, though those connections are not always obvious.
The natural beauty of water is abundant, but can be difficult to see in urban areas. Instead of lazy, humming streams, we see cloudy, sediment-filled rivers. It’s difficult to appreciate floodwaters carrying everything from soccer balls to car tires. It can be easy to disconnect the Reedy River that runs through downtown from the small tributaries that feed it.
In reality, all of our waterways are connected. In Greenville County we consume water from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Gravity moves stormwater from the peaks of mountains to streams and rivers that continue to flow downhill. Those rivers gain speed and volume filling reservoirs and ponds along the way. Stormwater soaks into the earth, replenishing underground water bodies called aquifers. All of these elements together are part of the Reedy, Saluda and Enoree watersheds.
Watersheds are defined as an area of land that drains into the same location or body of water. We are always in a watershed, and the water that flows through our location will continue on to other communities until it reaches the ocean. In Greenville County this means the same water we use will be consumed by people from Greenwood to Columbia. Eventually the water that flows through our backyards ends up in the Atlantic Ocean, carrying with it anything that it has collected along the way.
Our good stewardship of water can help ensure the water that Greenwood uses is clean and healthy. Each one of us contributes to water health, and there are simple actions we can take to help improve water quality.
- Repair oil leaks in your small and large engines! Used auto fluids are one of the most common pollutants in stormwater, and therefore waterways in general.
- Scoop the poop! Pet waste harbors harmful bacteria, like e. coli, that can live in waterways long after your pet finishes their business. Grab it. Bag it. Trash it.
- Use the proper amount of fertilizer. More is not necessarily better when it comes to chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. To know exactly how much fertilizer your lawn needs, send a soil sample to Clemson University and follow the recommendations. You’ll save money and help keep our waters clean.
- Compost more! Create a compost pile for grass clippings and leaves in a corner of your backyard. Reducing the amount of yard debris in waterways helps keep excess nutrients out of the water. Additionally, compost is great for your soil!
- Plant anything! Living roots are natural water filters. Filling in bare soil with plants, especially native ones, is a great way to passively improve water quality.
Have questions or want more information watersheds and stormwater management? Visit Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District’s website at gcsoilandwater.com or follow @gcsoilandwater on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.