Ash Creek/Rooster River Watershed An overview presented by theAsh Creek Conservation Association L. Kraig Steffen, Ph. D.
My Background Ph.D in Organic Chemistry Actively involved in Science Education Lifelong interest in Ecology and Environmental Science NOT an expert on Watersheds! I’m sharing this as a concerned citizen
What is a Watershed? Simply put, it is a geographic region drained by a particular creek, stream, or river. Usually defined by the largest river that drains into a body of salt water.
A simple thought experiment.. When a drop of rain falls where does it go on its journey back to the sea? The Pacific? The Atlantic? Gulf of Mexico? Long Island Sound? Where would its “neighbor” go? Now, consider 4 million neighbors! The geographic region defined by the collective drainage of these raindrops defines a watershed. Size varies widely, the Mississippi drains millions of square miles, our local watershed about 15 square miles
Does all the water return to the sea? Eventually, yes… However, it may seep into the ground and become part of an aquifer. The water in aquifers may stay underground for days.. Or years.. Or even centuries The water may also evaporate back into the atmosphere
Who Cares?? We all should… We need fresh water to drink We need fresh water for growing food We need fresh water for the plants and animals that are part of our environment
The Value of a River Rivers drain away excess water, ie flood control Rivers provide fresh water habitat Rivers provide a source of water for the rich Riparian biomes surrounding them. “Riparian” means essentially near a river. Riparian zones are often the most diverse habitats in a given region, a linear “oasis” if you will. Rivers are important for commerce and leisure activities
Riparian and Salt Marsh Habitat Great variety of plants and animals Aesthetically pleasing Ecologically critical as a source of food and it functions as an important waste control system - natural biofiltering Salt marsh habitat is critical for biofiltering and as a home to a diverse collection of plants and animals
The Rooster River Small, only about 10 miles long, entire watershed is only 15.3 square miles Ash Creek, our local salt marsh estuary, is the outlet of the Rooster River Tidal flux goes up to just past the Mount Grove cemetery So .. Lets look at a map!
Aerial Map of Rooster River/Ash Creek QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
What Affects our Watershed? Natural factors like total rainfall and geography Climate: hot and wet? cold and dry? Tidal flux Agriculture and Landscaping use Urbanization Industrial Pollution
“They Paved Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot” One major effect of urbanization is simply the covering of the ground with less permeable harder surfaces Creates much faster moving runoff Keeps water from seeping into the soil Exacerbates erosion Depletes the underground water supply
Pollution Point Pollution: A well defined release point for pollutants. Sewage Treatment plant, Factory, Research Facility Non Point Pollution: agricultural spraying, landscape maintenance, vehicle emissions, dry deposition from remote sources Myriad of harmful effects on our local watershed - exposure to toxic materials, algal blooms, long term degradation of the habitat
Pollution Information… The internet has made it much easier to find information The internet has made it harder to validate information! Look for reliable, long standing sources but keep an open mind www.scorecard.org
A Plethora of Problems Storm Runoff from west side STP Industrial wastes from current, historical manufacturing Non point pollution
Heavy Metal/POP Pollution Geographical Distribution and Potential for Adverse Biological Effects of Selected Trace Elements and Organic Compounds in Streambed Sediment in the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames River Basins, 1992-94 USGS Water Resources Investigations Reportﾊ97-4169By Robert F. Breault and Sandra L. Harris
TMDL Total Maximum Daily Load Measures bacteria in water Expressed as Percentage decrease needed to meet maximum recommended levels Rooster river is on the 2004 list for not meeting water quality standards
What Can I DO?? (a lot actually!) Work to encourage honest and thorough pollution reporting Support Remediation Efforts Hold Politicians Accountable
What Can I do? At Home? Replace high maintenance lawns with native vegetation and mulch Compost your lawn and garden waste, e.g. leaves, grass Use porous materials for driveways & sidewalks Sweep driveways, sidewalks & roads rather than using a hose Avoid use of pesticides Pick up after pets Use, store, and dispose of chemicals properly (in Bridgeport residents can bring their toxic chemicals to the transfer station on Asylum street once a year) Use a car wash instead of washing car at home Prevent storm drain dumping
Acknowledgements The 2004 grant for this presentation comes through the Watershed Assistance Small Grants program, conducted in association with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The small grants program is administered by Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.