Stewardship of land and water describes the relationship people have with the resources they rely on. Many ecosystem services are provided by natural watersheds that would impossible to replicate naturally, such as nourishing the forests, tempering local climate, and providing clean water sources. Good stewardship ensures that these services will remain and we will be able to benefit from them for years to come.
What does watershed stewardship look like?
Forestry, fertilizers, and sewage can affect water quality, particularly when seasonal floods cause lake levels to rise. Heavy sediment fills the gills of fish and blocks light, changing the balance of lake ecosystems.
Individuals can take stewardship of the lake by maintaining shoreline buffers on waterfront property and taking care not to contribute to erosion, even far above the lake. Unstable banks are a leading factor of erosion, washing away with rain or crumbling in dry conditions. Vegetation anchors soil; leaving natural cover along the shores of rivers, streams, and lakes will stabilize the bank.
Industry plays a large part in watershed stewardship. Surface land use affects incidental and annual runoff, and many activities such as fracking require water as part of their operations. It is important that waste water is contained and raw drinking water is not contaminated by industrial activities. A watershed management plan can be designed to keep impact below an acceptable level.
A healthy watershed will supply clean, adequate drinking water to its dependents without a risk of depletion.