Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Runoff vs. Recharge}

Have you ever wondered what happens to rain after it hits the ground? Where does it all go? If your answer is yes, Frannie has the perfect activity to share with you today:
Runoff vs. Recharge!

What you'll need:
  • Water
  • Containers to hold water
Activity Steps:
  1. Fill a container with water. 
    Frannie used a measuring cup for her container!
  2. Find different surfaces outside (pavement, soil, grass, rocks, etc.)
  3. Pour a bit of water on the surface.
  4. Observe where the water travels. Does it recharge the groundwater? Or does it runoff?
    Frannie noticed that surfaces made of grass and soil allowed the water to soak through the surface and recharge the groundwater!
    Recharge is water added to a groundwater aquifer. Recharge occurs when rainwater seeps into the ground and percolates (moves slowly) through the soil into the groundwater aquifer.
    When Frannie poured water on the cement, some of it pooled on the surface while the rest of it became runoff.
    Runoff is water that flows over the land surface into streams, rivers, or other bodies of water. Runoff may also go down a storm drain and flow into the nearest waterway. 
  5. For more fun you can write down or illustrate your observations!
Taking it a Step Further - Topics to Discuss:

Recharge replenishes our aquifers and builds up our groundwater levels. We use groundwater for many activities such as irrigation (watering plants), drinking water, and many other common household activities such as laundry and showering! 

Runoff, on the other hand, travels over surfaces that may contain pollutants such as oil from cars or pesticides (chemicals used to kill pests such as insects) from lawns and gardens. These pollutants are then washed into the nearest body of water, untreated!

So, how can you help prevent harmful runoff? Frannie has some ideas you could do with your troop!
  1. Plant a Rain Garden! Rain gardens contain native plants and are designed to collect rainwater so that it can soak into the ground and recharge our aquifers. Learn how to plant a rain garden here.
  2. Make, Decorate, and Install a Rain Barrel! Rain barrels collect rainwater from rooftops. This water can be used at a later date to water lawns or flower beds.
  3. Reduce Pollution in Runoff! Do you have a pet? Picking up pet waste can help prevent harmful bacteria from getting into our local waters from runoff. Do you ever help wash the car, dog, rugs, etc. outside? Washing on the grass allows the water to soak into the ground rather than becoming runoff and flowing down the closest storm drain.