1. A little River with a BIG Problem
The BIG problem: Introduction to the project
Could you imagine going to your school every day and having to see a view surrounded by trash? This situation would be very disappointing and unpleasant, but is what our school has to deal with every day. In front of our school passes a river that forms from water collected on a sinkhole up in the mountains, travels trough our community to finally disembogue into the Caribbean Sea and nearby coast line. What would you think if you find out that its waters also carries trash, solid and organic wastes? That would not be a pretty view, right?
Environmental contamination is an issue you hear about almost every day, but at the same time it’s ignored by many people. We wanted to do something about it, so we decided to come out with a plan and formed an environmental group called “The River Watchers”. Our plan was not only to clean up the river, but to investigate the main areas where trash collects, the type of trash thrown into it, and categorize it so we could then point out who is responsible for this. But we didn’t want to do this to punish them, but to teach them the importance of caring and protecting the environment and our watersheds and make the community aware that all of us can be part of the solution and not just the problem.
So we, The River Watchers, invite you to be part of our investigations and learn what were our findings and solutions to this problem. So join us, and be ready to get your hands dirty for a really good cause!
The BIG problem in pictures.
|In this picture you can see garbage collected under the bridge right in front of our school.||Part of the problem is that the community throws garbage into the river.|
But, who are the River Watchers?
|We are students from Rafael Irizarry Rivera Middle School in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico. We are in ninth grade an we are: Nilmarie, Fabian, Eliezer y Devin. Along with our fellow schoolmates we are THE RIVER WATCHERS!|
Where are we in the World?
Our Rivers and Watersheds
Why are they So important?
Both, our rivers and watersheds, are important because they collect water and eventually get it into a single place, that can be a bigger river, a lake, sea or the ocean. Since all living things need water, flora and fauna flourishes along rivers and watersheds, and since they can collect the water from miles away, us humans, have made settlements along those for hundreds of years making them common part of our communities.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (2009) a watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place, come in all shapes and sizes and they cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds (EPA, 2009).
The water that forms our rivers and watersheds flows in order. First it falls like rain, snow or hail into the mountains and flows into the rivers, then it goes to the watersheds that connects to lakes and/or the ocean. Sometimes it can also drain into the bedrock and form groundwater discharges or storages.
Puerto Rico's main rivers and watersheds.
|The image represents the 50 rivers that are in Puerto Rico and our main watersheds. The white oval shape marks the only two rivers in our town of Peñuelas; River Tallaboa and Macaná. Map retrieved from: http://www.prfrogui.com/geocities/images/maprio.jpg|
Puerto Rico's rivers and lakes.
Of the 1,200 bodies of water in Puerto Rico only 50 are considered rivers. Most of our rivers start in our central mountain range called "Cordillera Central". Puerto Rico's topografy forms four principals drain areas that directs the rain in to our lakes and then into our sea and ocean. The drain areas of the South are a lot more shorter than the drains of the North because they are much closer to the "Cordillera Central" (Mitaino, 2009)
In Puerto Rico we do not have natural lakes, all of them where manmade, by damming the main rivers to produce hydroelectric power and water for irrigation. That's why all 15 of them are called reservoirs and not really lakes (Rivera, 2011). As you can see the importance of keeping our rivers and watersheds clean is crucial, because we all depend from them. Clean rivers mean clean lakes, specially here in Puerto Rico, where all our major supllies of water (our reservoirs) get their water from our rivers and watersheds.
The Water Cycle: Why it is SO important?
The water cycle its the process that literarlly recycles our water by two main processes: evaporation and condensation. Evaporation, caused mainly by the sun's radiation, transforms water into vapor that eventually raises and helps forms the clouds. Inside them water vapor condenses back into water that falls back as precipitation (rain, snow or even hail). Thanks to the clouds that the water cycle forms water can travel around the world into far places where if falls back to earth (USGS, 2011).
The water that we use today is the same that even the dinosaurs had millions of years ago; all thanks to the water cycle! This process is the one that maintains our rivers flowing, because it keeps them getting water thanks to the movement of water from one area of the world to another.
The Water Cycle
|As you can see this cycle helps move water from one place to another keeping our rivers flowing. Picture provided free of use by: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html|
The Water Cycle ROCKS!!!
This is a cool video that shows the importance of water and why it is SO important for all of us. It's showed in a fun, comic and easy way to understand. Here you can see processes such as evaporation, condensation and the properties water has. ENJOY IT !
Video uploaded from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E-6yxK-wh0
File Type: video/mp4: 6.02 M