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Watersheds have three primary purposes: to capture water, store it in the soil and release it. Yet each watershed is a unique biological and physical process, making it difficult to draw generalized management recommendations for protecting a watershed.
Watersheds are continually changing and evolving. Some changes are natural, or are accelerated by human activities. Importantly, a watershed contains information about all the things happening within it: climate, soil moisture, soil texture, organic matter and chemistry, topography and drainage paths.
Watersheds also tell us about land use history, natural and man-made disturbances. There are many examples of how we can possibly affect a nearby watershed. One such example is the over fertilizing of a lawn, which may result in increased nutrients in our surface and groundwater. Once information on a watershed has been collected, work can begin to build a plan that will help improve the watershed. Both public and private agencies offer help in detecting if change is occurring within the watershed. Technical consultants and specialists can assist in designing watershed monitoring programs. More information about contacting these professionals is located in the References and Other Information Sources section of this manual.
Getting to Know your Local Watershed is a guide for those who want to organize a local partnership to protect their watershed.