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OCCC Reads 2015-2016: Water Matters: Chapter 12: Watershed Literacy

This guide provides a range of resources to use for OCCC Reads 2015-2016.

Chapter Summary


The chapter gives us an eye opening description of the impact humans have on normal water flow and water availability where there is long-term settling and subsequent development of lakes and/or alteration of river water sources.  The locales the river water sources feed may be as small as a town or as large as the land covering several towns.  Regardless the size, the water feeding and sustaining complex, rich biological habitats and areas is called the “watershed”.  A healthy, sustainable environment required for us to survive depends on a healthy watershed that re-establishes itself year after year.  Unfortunately, human occupation has greatly altered the terrain throughout watersheds over decades of development jeopardizing dependable availability of water to all living within the watershed. We have utilized a “Dehydration Model” by diverting key rivers into lakes and covering large areas of ground needed for water absorption.  Now we face a watershed parched and unable to complete a water cycle for replenishment. 

Fortunately the watersheds may be saved.  By identifying our own watershed and examining how we truly interact with it, we can identify environment destructive practices and prevent an untimely, dry death.  Adopting lifestyles that follow a   “Rehydration Model” when using our resources available in the watershed can begin the preservation of our watersheds.  This model demands watershed literacy and the adoption of Conservation Hydrology (water conservation) to resupply the water that has been drained from the ailing watershed.  By following the four “R”s of water conservation 1) Receive, 2) Recharge, 3) Retain and 4) Release communities within a watershed may be able to reverse the drying and parching of the area and return it  to its lush, life sustaining.

Why Use this Chapter?

Why Use this Chapter:

  1. This chapter provides students with a set of guidelines to look the area where they live and examine how they and those before have altered watershed sources.
  2. Four core water conservation rules provide an ideal source of changes in our lifestyles can return a watershed to its original, sustainable life. Students identifying their watershed can then focus on how to use the four “R”s of water conservation to produce cleaner and more available water sources.

Possible uses in the classroom:

  1. Have students write a report on how building and developing has impacted water sources surrounding Oklahoma City, their hometown, or their local neighborhood.  
  2. Engage in a discussion on the impact of neighborhood growth on available water sources. Ask students to identify what water source(s) supplies their homes. Ask them to identify what happens (where the water comes from) when these supplies are not available. Has this happened before in the local area?
  3. Students can conduct a study on the quality of the local drinking water. Students can also compile a water quality table of surrounding communities and compare water over a broad range. Discussion can focus on why there may be differences, how these samples might be cleaned up and which water would the students prefer.
  4. Play a game “Pollution or Solution”. Identify several water sources for students to visit (Oklahoma River, Lake Tenkiller, Lake Hefner, OCCC pond, etc) and have students describe whether these areas would be considered part of the “pollution” problem or part of the “solution” to clean water.  Students can provide powerpoint for grade on with this one.

Other Resources