Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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

Frannie is looking forward to the warm spring days that are just around the corner.  As the snow begins to melt, Frannie can't help but wonder...  Where does it go?

Frannie is going to show you how to do a fun hands-on activity, Runoff vs. Recharge, that will help you learn where melted snow goes and how different land surfaces can influence the movement of water.

Here's what you'll need:
  • A container of water

Here's what you do:

Find different kinds of surfaces outside.  Pour some of the water on each surface and observe where the water travels.

1.  Grass

The grass (and soil beneath it) Frannie poured the water on is permeable, the material is porous and water freely passes through it.  The water seeps into the ground, some of the water recharges groundwater supplies.  Recharge is water added to a groundwater aquifer.

2.  Pavement

Pavement is an impermeable material, water cannot move through it.  The water Frannie poured on the pavement ran off into the gutter at the end of her driveway.  This water will flow down the gutter and into a storm drain.  

Many storm drains lead to bodies of surface water where fish like Frannie live.  This means that other things that flow into storm drains will also end up in Frannie's water, like pollutants.  For example, if a homeowner applies too much fertilizer to their lawn and some of it washes off when they water it, the fertilizers can end up in Frannie's pond.  Fertilizer is food for plants to help them grow bigger and faster.  Fertilizer will also make plants and algae in Frannie's pond grow.  Too many plants in the water can be bad for fish like Frannie.

What can you do to ensure that pollutants don't runoff into storm drains and into surface water?  
  • Talk to your parents/guardians about applying the correct amount of fertilizer.
  • Be sure to recycle and throw trash away in proper receptacles.
  • Clean up pet waste.

For more fun: find different kinds of surfaces and write down or illustrate your observations!  Where does the water travel?  Does it recharge groundwater or does it runoff?  Share your experience.