Know your Watershed

watershed cypress Tallahassee Democrat

February 7, 2014

Photos by Mark Tancig

 

By Mark Tancig

 

Leon County’s natural resources are just one of the reasons folks call the Capital County home. Some of our most well-known and treasured natural resources are the beautiful lakes, rivers, and sinkholes. Citizens and experts alike find these waterbodies quite fascinating, and Leon County Government works hard to preserve these places. Some interesting Leon County water resource facts include: Leon County has 25 watersheds; the Sopchoppy and St. Marks Rivers have their headwaters in Leon County; at least three creeks reverse their flow during major storm events; and many watersheds drain directly into the Floridan aquifer, the source of our drinking water.

 

As a steward of our natural resources, Leon County Government encourages citizens to learn about our local water resources. Doing so can help you become aware of ways to help protect them. A good way to start is by knowing what watershed you live in.

 

A watershed, or drainage basin, is the area of land that drains to a particular waterbody. In Leon County, this waterbody could be a lake, river, creek, or sinkhole. Watersheds are formed by the natural ridges and depressions of the Earth’s surface. The highest points of the land create the boundaries between each watershed. An example in Leon County is the intersection of N. Monroe St. and I-10. When rain falls in that area, the runoff to the north flows towards Lake Jackson while the runoff to the west ends up in Lake Munson.

 

Leon County encourages citizens to become more familiar with the unique natural resources we often take for granted. Knowing the name of the creek or lake that you drive by on your way to work or play, can help remind us that we need to do our part to keep them clean. Leon County’s Water Resources website – www.LeonCountyFL.gov/WaterResources – has information to help you find out which watershed you live in. The website also has information on ways you can help, from septic-tank maintenance to proper use of herbicides and pesticides. Also available online, the annual Water Quality Report shows land use characteristics, photos, and water quality trends for all waterbodies tested as part of Leon County’s Water Resource Monitoring Program.

 

Once you know your watershed, getting out and seeing these areas firsthand is the best way to monitor the health of our waterbodies. Please remember that many waterbodies are on private property and you should always seek property owner permission before entering the property. Fortunately, there are many publicly owned parks and natural areas where you can explore our local water resources. Leon County maintains boat ramps and parking areas on many of the larger lakes – Iamonia, Jackson, Lafayette, Miccosukee, Munson, and Talquin. Also, the Ochlockonee River has several public access areas and the St. Marks River is easily accessible at Natural Bridge Road. The Apalachicola National Forest is a great place to see many of our blackwater creeks (Fisher, Lost, Black, and Freeman Creeks), sinkhole lakes (Silver Lake and Moore Pond), and sinkholes (Big Dismal). Soon, Leon County will open Fred George Park, which will include trails to the sinkhole and adjacent wetlands.  All of these sights are what make Leon County such a beautiful place to live. So help us protect Leon County’s natural environment so that future citizens can enjoy and benefit from these waterbodies, too.

 

Mark Tancig is a Water Resource Specialist with the Leon County Public Works Department.  For more information about gardening in our area, visit the UF/ IFAS Leon County Extension website at http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu.  For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov

Interactive Map of Leon County Drainage Basins available online at http://cms.leoncountyfl.gov/Portals/0/publicworks/engservices/docs/Basins/basinmaplinks.pdf.

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