What is a watershed?
A watershed can be defined as the land area that contributes stormwater runoff to a particular point along a waterway. Watersheds vary in sizethey can be as small as your own backyard. Everyone lives in a watershed!
What is my watershed?
If you live in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, or Cleveland, you may live in the Doan Brook watershed. The Doan Brook begins in Shaker Heights and Beachwood, just east of Warrensville Center Road and flows westward through Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights through the Shaker Lakes. Just past the Shaker Lakes, it continues flowing northwest through a gorge into Cleveland where it soon enters a culvert and flows underground for about a mile. It resurfaces just north of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and flows along Martin Luther King Boulevard until it enters Lake Erie.
The Doan Brook watershed is about 12 square miles. Of this, about 7.5 square miles, or 2/3 of the watershed, are in residential land use.
How are we all connected in a watershed?
Even if you dont live next to the Doan Brook, what you do in your yard can still have a direct impact on your nearby water resources.
As the Doan Brook watershed has developed over the last 200 years, the natural water balance has been altered. Natural forest cover and wetlands have been replaced with roads, driveways, parking lots, and buildings. These hard surfaces, or impervious surfaces, increase the amount of rainfall that flows over land and reduce the amount of rainfall that percolates into the soil or is consumed by plants and trees. Increasing the amount of rainfall that runs off the land leads to flooding.
As water flows over these paved surfaces, it collects soil, pet wastes, salt, fertilizers, oils, and other pollutants. It doesnt matter if your house is not on a stream or river the rainwater flows down the street into a catch basin. Storm sewers carry this runoff from your neighborhood directly to the nearest body of water, taking dirt and pollutants along with it.
What are some of our concerns
One concern is floodingincreased impervious surfaces in the watershed have meant that more rainfall flows directly to the stream and less percolates into the ground. Another concern is pollution, especially bacteria and nutrients.
A significant source of bacteria in urban watersheds comes from our own pets. A single gram of dog feces contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. Nutrients include nitrogen and phosphorus, and one of the primary sources of these in an urban watershed is the fertilizer we use on our lawns and gardens.
Tips for helping urban streams