Watersheds and Wetlands


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Notes from class on Chapter 1 of the Enviornmental Book

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Watersheds and Wetlands

  1. 1. Watersheds and Wetlands Chapter 1
  2. 2. Big Blue Marble ¾ of the Earth’s surface covered in water Water is the most common substance on earth and the MOST IMPORTANT
  3. 3. Where is the water? If the world’s total water supply were in a 200 L drum. . . <ul><li>Ocean Water: 97.2% </li></ul><ul><li>Glaciers and ice caps: 2.11% </li></ul><ul><li>Groundwater: 0.62% </li></ul><ul><li>Lakes: 0.009% </li></ul><ul><li>Atmospheric moisture: 0.001% </li></ul><ul><li>Rivers: 0.0001% </li></ul>
  4. 4. Fresh Water:
  5. 5. Water can exist as: Solid = Ice Liquid = Water Gas = Steam
  6. 6. Changes of State S G Deposition Condensation Solidification Vaporization Sublimation Melting L
  7. 7. Several of these processes are part of the: WATER CYCLE
  8. 8. Also known as the Hydrologic Cycle
  9. 9. <ul><li>Evaporation: Change of state from liquid to gas over a period of time at various temperatures </li></ul><ul><li>Transpiration: Plants release water vapor from their leaves </li></ul><ul><li>Precipitation: liquid or solid water that falls from atmosphere to Earth </li></ul><ul><li>In PA… ½ of our annual 42” rainfall is returned to atmosphere via evaporation and transpiration </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Runoff: Precipitation that runs off the ground back into streams, rivers or oceans </li></ul><ul><li>Groundwater: Precipitation that seeps into the ground and is stored beneath the Earth’s surface </li></ul><ul><li>22% of Earth’s freshwater is groundwater </li></ul><ul><li>In PA.. 1 billion gallons of ground water is used EACH DAY in households, industries, agriculture and mining </li></ul>
  11. 11. Groundwater Contamination
  12. 12. Groundwater Contamination <ul><li>Contaminants from natural sources </li></ul><ul><li>As water travels over soil and rocks it dissolves certain minerals and carries them away </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hard water” is water that has high concentrations of Calcium </li></ul><ul><li>High concentrations of iron make water “brown” and metallic tasting </li></ul><ul><li>High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gives water “rotten egg” odor and taste </li></ul>
  13. 13. Groundwater Contamination <ul><li>Contaminants from human activities </li></ul><ul><li>As population gets more dense and we “take over” more and more space we contaminate the water supply </li></ul><ul><li>Poorly installed and maintained septics </li></ul><ul><li>Pesticides and fertilizers used on farms and lawns </li></ul><ul><li>Landfills, chemical spills, leaking storage tanks, salts used on icy roads </li></ul>
  14. 14. Stream Characteristics
  15. 15. Water Flow Order Precipitation falls Water travels along “rills” which are grooves eroded in the ground by water over time Rills merge and empty into creeks and streams
  16. 16. Water Flow Order Creeks and streams feed into rivers Rivers flow into oceans
  17. 17. The place where a stream or river begins is called it’s source The place where a stream or river ends by flowing into another body of water is called it’s mouth
  18. 18. Laminar flow: occurs when water moves in straight paths that are parallel to the stream’s channel or bed. Very little mixing Turbulent flow: occurs when water moves in tiny circular paths as it flows downstream. Much more mixing
  19. 19. A stream’s velocity, or the distance water flows during some period of time, determines the type of flow LOW VELOCITY (move slowly) streams have mostly Laminar flow HIGH VELOCITY (move quickly) streams have mostly Turbulent flow
  20. 20. Sediment Load Sand and gravel “skip” along bed pebbles and boulders roll and slide along bed Constitutes the majority of the river or streams load comes from banks as water erodes Comes from ground water that returns to the Earth’s surface Larger materials such as sand, gravel, pebbles and boulders Materials such as silt and clay that is carried by water but does not dissolve in it Earth materials that dissolve in the water as it runs over rocks and soil Sediment that is carried along the bottom of the channel Sediment that is “suspended” in solution Sediment that is “dissolved” in solution Bed Load Suspended Load Dissolved Load
  21. 21. Sediment Load Sediment: particles that can be transported by fluid flow and which eventually is deposited as a layer of solid particles on the bed or bottom of a body of water or other liquid. Sediment is carried in streams and rivers in three ways
  22. 23. Watershed <ul><li>Also known as a drainage basin </li></ul><ul><li>Region OF LAND that contributes water to a stream, lake or other body of water </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>Watersheds are surrounded by divides </li></ul><ul><li>Divide: any ridge between two streams along which precipitation runs off. </li></ul><ul><li>The Continental Divide-splits North America and some of Central America in two watersheds </li></ul><ul><li>Watersheds can also be very small </li></ul>
  24. 25. Five of the Major Watersheds in PA <ul><li>PA State water plan: 104 watersheds </li></ul><ul><li>We will be focusing on 5 that are considered to be Major Watersheds </li></ul><ul><li>Great Lakes Basin (Erie and Genesee) </li></ul><ul><li>Ohio River Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Susquehanna/Chesapeake Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Potomac Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Delaware Basin </li></ul>
  25. 26. Great Lakes Basin <ul><li>Only about 1% of this basin actually lies in PA </li></ul><ul><li>Divided into two sub-basins; Erie Basin and Genesee Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Rivers and streams in both basins drain to the North into the Great Lakes </li></ul>
  26. 27. Ohio River Basin <ul><li>PA’s second largest watershed </li></ul><ul><li>Ohio River is largest in this watershed </li></ul>Susquehanna/Chesapeake Basin <ul><li>PA’s largest watershed </li></ul><ul><li>Covers 46% of the state </li></ul><ul><li>Largest river: Susquehanna </li></ul>
  27. 28. Potomac Basin <ul><li>Potomac River does not flow through PA </li></ul><ul><li>PA’s Shenandoah River is the Potomac River’s largest tributary </li></ul>Delaware Basin <ul><li>3 rd largest watershed in PA </li></ul><ul><li>Delaware river and it’s tributaries supply most of New York City’s freshwater needs </li></ul>
  28. 29. Stream Biology
  29. 30. Ecosystem : all the plants, animals and micro organisms in an area that function together with the non-living factors of that environment Streams and Rivers are aquatic ecosystems
  30. 31. Algae Plant like organisms (Protists) Producers : Make their own food (also known as autotrophs ) Use energy from sun and dissolved nutrients to make food Base of most aquatic food chains
  31. 32. Animal Like Protists Simple organisms that have same characteristics as animals Eat bacteria, sediments that contain bacteria and algae Saprotrophs : feed on decayed organic material Raptors : protists that eat other protists
  32. 33. Ciliates Paramecia Amoeba
  33. 34. Invertebrates Organisms that do not have a back bone Insects: Flies and beetles found in nearly every stream or river Larval stage lives in water Adults: Most live on land surrounding stream; some live on water surface (water striders)
  34. 35. Invertebrates Shredders: Eat tissue of other organisms; organic matter; wood (bite and chew) Predators: ingest prey whole or pierce tissues and suck out fluids
  35. 36. Flies Some shredders Some predators Beetles Some saprotrophs Some predators
  36. 37. Freshwater mollusks and some aquatic worms Spend entire lives in water Most feed on algae and plants (Primary consumers, herbivores eat producers) Some eat other animals (Secondary consumers, carnivores) Some eat both plants and animals (Secondary consumers, omnivores)
  37. 38. Vertebrates Organisms that have a back bone Amphibians; such as salamanders, frogs, turtles, newts Fish; such as pike, trout, pickerel, bullheads, bluegill, bass, sunfish catfish, perch and suckers
  38. 39. Amphibians Depend on water at various stages of their life cycles Most adults live on land Most adults are predators
  39. 40. Fish Some are primary consumers of algae <ul><li>Grazers </li></ul><ul><li>Strainers </li></ul><ul><li>Suckers </li></ul>Some are predators Some are detritivores: feed by shredding sediments or filter food directly from sediments
  40. 41. Class Activity: Identifying Macro Invertebrates!! http://people.virginia.edu/~sos-iwla/Stream-Study/Key/MacroKeyIntro.HTML
  41. 42. Notes on Factors that Affect Freshwater Ecosystems
  42. 43. Wetlands Wetland: an area that contains unique types of soil, is home to plants adapted to the wet environment, and contains water all year or certain times during the year
  43. 44. Types of wetlands White tail deer raccoons herons egrets woodpeckers Snakes, frogs turtles Classified by trees: Conifers; cedars, pines, spruces Hardwoods; maples willows, aspens, birches, elms, oaks Trees can be more than 20 feet tall Drains slowly Some; nutrient rich but not all Swamp Forested wetlands Few fish Frogs Turtles Insects Certain birds Predominantly mosses; shrubs; evergreens; water lilies; cranberries; blueberries Trees less than 20 feet tall Decomposed plant material called peat or muck Bog very acidic Little oxygen Scrub-shrub wetland Organisms Plants Soil
  44. 45. Types of wetlands Beavers Frogs Turtles Raccoons Muskrats Opossums Birds, insects Grasses Sedges Bulrushes Cattails Plants rooted in soil but emerge above water Nutrient rich Marsh Forms at mouth of river or areas of poor drainage Emergent wetlands Organisms Plants Soil
  45. 46. Wetlands at work <ul><li>Habitat: home to many species many threatened or endangered </li></ul><ul><li>Food Factories: plants in wetlands serve base of wetland food webs </li></ul><ul><li>Spawning Grounds and Nurseries: Many organisms reproduce here </li></ul><ul><li>Cycling Nutrients: plants use carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, cycle nitrogen and phosphorus </li></ul>
  46. 47. Wetlands at work <ul><li>Buffer Zones: act as “natural sponges”, absorb excess runoff and release it back to environment slowly; Wetlands in coastal areas absorb energy of waves and storms protecting mainland </li></ul><ul><li>Pollution Control: Reduce sediment by slowing water movement; many wetland plants store carbon instead of polluting air with carbon dioxide </li></ul>
  47. 48. Factors That Affect Wetlands and Watersheds Human Activities: <ul><li>Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Urbanization and construction </li></ul><ul><li>Mining </li></ul><ul><li>Industry </li></ul><ul><li>Waste Disposal </li></ul>
  48. 49. Agriculture: <ul><li>Harvesting </li></ul><ul><li>Irrigation ditches </li></ul><ul><li>Animal wastes </li></ul><ul><li>Overgrazing (erosion of soil) which increases sediment that runs off </li></ul><ul><li>Chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers </li></ul>
  49. 50. Urbanization and Construction <ul><li>Covering soil with concrete increases runoff that carries pollutants </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of roads and bridges over wetlands; increases runoff and restricts movements of organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Paints, cleaners, salt, herbicides used along roads damage wetlands by increasing turbidity, lowering pH, and decreasing dissolved oxygen </li></ul><ul><li>Canals, ditches, levees divert water from it’s natural flow </li></ul>
  50. 51. Mining: <ul><li>Mining of substances directly from wetlands such as phosphorus and peat </li></ul><ul><li>Mining of rocks and minerals: acid drainage; heavy metals; sediment </li></ul>Industry: <ul><li>Construction; reduces wetland acreage </li></ul><ul><li>Pollutants </li></ul><ul><li>Water intake, draining of wetlands </li></ul><ul><li>Water release, thermal pollution which can lead to algal blooms </li></ul>
  51. 52. Waste Disposal: <ul><li>Landfills: solid waste; toxic leakage </li></ul><ul><li>Sludge and Wastewater Treatment; </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce of biological pathogens to wetlands </li></ul><ul><li>Rich in nitrogen and phosphorus which cause Algal blooms </li></ul>
  52. 53. Factors That Affect Wetlands and Watersheds Natural Events: <ul><li>Floods </li></ul><ul><li>Erosion and Deposition </li></ul><ul><li>Drought </li></ul><ul><li>Volcanic Eruptions </li></ul><ul><li>Fires </li></ul><ul><li>Wind </li></ul><ul><li>Global Climate Change </li></ul>
  53. 54. Floods: <ul><li>Positive impact: </li></ul><ul><li>Move nutrients and organic materials downstream </li></ul><ul><li>Deposit silt into river banks </li></ul><ul><li>Change shape and size of river channel; form new channels </li></ul><ul><li>Negative impact: </li></ul><ul><li>Destroy riverbanks </li></ul><ul><li>Carry organisms away from natural habitat </li></ul><ul><li>Landslides; increases sediment </li></ul>
  54. 55. Erosion and Deposition <ul><li>Erosion, sediment movement, and deposition all happen as water flows over land </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in precipitation causes more erosion which can change size and shape of stream or river channel </li></ul><ul><li>Channel changes affects velocity, discharge and stream biology </li></ul>
  55. 56. Drought <ul><li>Drought: period in which the amount of precipitation that falls in and area is lower than normal </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce the volume of the water </li></ul><ul><li>Lower volume affects clarity, salinity, temperature, pH and amount of sediment </li></ul><ul><li>Some bodies of water disappear; causing loss of breeding and feeding grounds </li></ul>
  56. 57. Volcanic Eruptions <ul><li>Massive mudslides that cutoff streams and rivers </li></ul><ul><li>Vegetation loss changes stream biology </li></ul><ul><li>Ash changes pH of water and increases turbidity </li></ul><ul><li>Temperature changes and ash kill organisms </li></ul>
  57. 58. Fires <ul><li>Damage or destroy vegetation; causing increase in runoff and erosion </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of habitat </li></ul><ul><li>Increase temperature of water </li></ul><ul><li>Can be BENEFICIAL; pine tree reproduction </li></ul>Wind <ul><li>Carry and drop sediment </li></ul><ul><li>Affects evaporation of water </li></ul>
  58. 59. Global Climate Changes <ul><li>Natural large scale changes in climate occur about every 10,000 years </li></ul><ul><li>Cooler climate; freshwater locked in ice and glaciers </li></ul><ul><li>Warmer climate; melt off increases sea level; causes flooding; causes salt water to move into fresh water wetlands </li></ul><ul><li>Changes the salinity of wetlands </li></ul><ul><li>Salt-tolerant species replace freshwater organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Vegetation covered and dies changing wetlands into open water </li></ul>