Why it Matters

The importance of healthy watersheds

To understand what we do, 
you need to understand why!

Watersheds: Social, Economic & Ecological Values

Watersheds can be described as a geographical area where all the water (surface rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater including the rain and snowfall), is captured and flows towards a basin or sea.

Watersheds are typically divided by high mountain ridge-lines, and meet in the lowlands where streams connect. In the Fraser Valley, we all live within the Lower Fraser River watershed, and there are sub-watersheds within: such as the Stave RiverChilliwack-Vedder River, SilverHope, Harrison-Chehalis to name a few.

Watersheds provide important social, economic and ecological values.

Social well-being &
Human Health

Healthy watersheds benefit people:

 

• safe drinking water (do you know where your drinking water comes from?).

• provides food (think salmon & farming).

• enables us to adapt to the impacts of climate change more easily by cooling the air and absorbing greenhouse gas emissions.

• healthy forests within a watershed create the fresh-air we breathe.

• provides recreation areas such as parks and trails for people to keep active and enjoy nature (think mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, fishing etc).

 

Economic Prosperity

Healthy watersheds benefit society:




• produces energy and supply water for agriculture, industry and households.

• forests and wetlands help to prevent or reduce costly climate change impacts. This can include mitigating flooding. Reducing drought and forest fire potentials.

• contributes to tourism, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and mining industries.

Ecological Health

Healthy watersheds benefit nature, natural processes and biodiversity:


• conserves water, promotes streamflow, supports sustainable streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater sources.

• enables healthy soil for crops and livestock.

• provides habitat for wildlife and plants (including pollinators, needed for agriculture). 

Watersheds: Local Impacts and Challenges

Watersheds embody many landscapes, and thus watershed management is unique region to region. The Fraser Valley, is a mosaic pf landscapes: agriculture, forests, wetlands, residential and industrial areas among many others. There is a variety of issues that can reduce the health of a watershed, and thus impact our social and societal well-being. While not exhaustive, these are some of the common challenges we have observed in our local watersheds:

 

• climate change and invasive species encroachment 

• point source and non-point source pollution (including run-off and septic fields)

• loss of natural green-spaces from development and land-conversion 

• habitat fragmentation (roads, trails, dikes)

• water diversions and dams

• air-pollution (Volatile organic carbon emissions precipitate into our streams and soil)

• loss of riparian (streamside) trees and shrubs (and thus destabilizing streambanks and lack of cooling water)

• garbage: the need for waste diversion

• households: improve our individual footprint (reduce water uses, improve recycling and waste diversion, product selection choices etc.)

 

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