Water Quality Improvement Through Community Campus Partnerships

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Water Quality

Did You Know?
Kansas water and watershed facts.

Protecting usable surface and groundwater from potential sources of contamination is of increasing importance to Kansas. Through voluntary compliance, the state of Kansas is fostering watershed planning and implementation of activities that will lead to the restoration and protection of water quality in our streams, lakes and rivers. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) lend an effective planning and management framework to engage stakeholders in a process that identifies watershed restoration and protection needs, establishes watershed management goals, creates cost effective action plans to achieve goals and fosters implementation of the action plan.

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water, such as a nearby creek, stream, river or lake.

Do I live in a watershed?

Whether you reside in a metropolitan area, a rural town or on a farm you are part of one or many
Kansas watersheds. Kansas has 92 HUC8 watersheds (~885 mi2); 355 HUC11 (~229 mi2); and 2020 HUC14 watersheds (~40 mi2). HUC is an acronym for Hydrologic Unit Codes. Hydrologic unit codes are a way of identifying all of the drainage basins in the United States.

Many watersheds cross county, state and even country boundaries. Some are millions of square miles, and others are just a few acres. And, because watersheds often drain into other areas, one watershed can be part of a larger watershed.

A healthy watershed:

Why should I be concerned with water quality?

Water is one of the most valuable resources in Kansas. Water is an essential nutrient needed to sustain life. Think of the many ways you use water daily, including bathing, drinking, cooking, gardening, fishing, boating, farming, and swimming. Cooperation between local community groups, landowners and community-conscious students can provide practical solutions for many of our state's water resource challenges.

Tips for Managing Your Stormwater Runoff (Adapted from The Water Main)

Stormwater runoff is caused by rain or snowmelt occurring faster than the ground can absorb. Runoff dramatically increases when the precipitation is over impervious surfaces such as driveways, roads or parking lots. Stormwater runoff picks up chemicals, debris and other pollutants and carries them directly into bodies of water that are used for fishing, swimming or even drinking.

The sediment carried into the water can cloud the water, preventing or inhibiting aquatic plant growth. Excess nutrients in the water can cause an increase in algae leading to lower dissolved oxygen levels. This, in turn, can make the water uninhabitable for fish and other aquatic organisms. Oils, paints, pesticides, solvents, etc. can poison fish. In turn, people can become sick from eating the fish. Polluted stormwater that gets into the drinking water sources increases the cost of water treatment and could pose health risks.

To reduce pollution from stormwater runoff, consider the following:

* Never dump household chemicals on the ground or into storm drains.
* Minimize your use of pesticides and fertilizers and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for application.
* Don’t sweep yard waste into the road or storm drains- compost or mulch instead.
* Have your septic system regularly inspected to prevent accidental release of pathogens.
* Wash your car in a car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater or wash your car in your yard instead of the driveway.
* Pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly—flushing is the best disposal method.
* Landscape to minimize runoff. Don’t divert water from a rooftop onto a driveway or parking lot. Instead, provide a natural place for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground.
* Sweep litter and debris from sidewalks and driveways and away from storm drains.
* Keep trash containers covered to prevent leaks.

For more suggestions on reducing stormwater runoff visit: www.epa.gov/weatherchannel/stormwater.html