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Introduction to WatershED

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The original WatershED program in the form of a text publication Teachers Guide may be obtained free of charge through the city of Boulder's Water Resource Educator. Contact Curry Rosato via email or call (303) 413-7365.

WatershED: your guide to finding out about the place you live

Watershed: your guide to becoming a steward of your water resources

Watershed: your guide to local participation and action

This guide will help you . . . .

  • get to know your Watershed Address where you live as defined by creeks, wetlands and lakes
  • discover the plants, animals, and birds you might see in or around the creek or wetland in your neighborhood
  • organize a StreamTeam to protect and enhance a nearby waterway

Watershed is a resource guide for teachers, students and citizens in the Boulder area and beyond. It provides you with the information needed to learn more about the creek or wetland near your school or in your neighborhood and community. It gives suggestions for what you, classes or neighborhood groups can do to preserve and protect that waterway. And it explains how you can raise native aquatic species in an aquarium and eventually release them into your adopted waterway.


This watershed resource guide was made possible by grants from the Denver Urban Resources Partnership Office and the Bureau of Reclamation. The primary authors on the guide were City of Boulder Water Resource Educator, Tammi Laninga, and Boulder Creek Watershed Initiative President, Jeff Writer. We would like to thank the Boulder Valley School District teachers who reviewed the guide and piloted many of the activities: Holly Cunningham, Whittier Elementary; Emily Weller, Bear Creek Elementary; Nadyne Orloff, Halcyon School; Dan Tomlin, Burbank Middle School; and Jeff Writer, Centaurus High School.

The Boulder Creek Watershed

Everyone lives in a watershed, and most of us live near a river or stream. Our watershed is formed by Boulder Creek and its tributaries. Learning about our watershed will give us the necessary tools needed to ensure the protection of this incredible water resource.

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a stream or lake. Watersheds range in size from an area drained by a small alpine spring to a large river system such as the Mississippi, which drains the entire central portion of the United States.

The Boulder Creek Watershed drains approximately 440 square miles on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. The basin is bordered on the west by the Continental Divide where the headwater tributaries provide a significant portion of the drinking water supply for those living in the basin. To the east, the watershed extends past the border of the county where Boulder Creek joins the St. Vrain River. The basin is a complex natural system which has specific needs to remain in balance.

The watershed supports trout in the higher stream reaches and warm water fish such as bass and sunfish in the lower reaches. An abundant number of aquatic insects and water fowl can also be found in and around the many creeks of the watershed. Boulder Creek and it many tributaries also provide a number of valued uses for the community such as water for irrigation and drinking, recreation, flood control, and hydropower.

The cities of Nederland, Boulder, Louisville, Lafayette and Superior are the largest cities in the watershed. Approximately 150,000 people inhabit it currently, and by 2010 it is estimated that the population will increase 25% to reach 190,000. As population in the basin grows, development and the associated water quality impacts will also increase.

Human impacts to the Boulder Creek Watershed are many and varied. Historical mining activity in the upper reaches of the watershed introduced metal contaminants into creeks. More recent impacts to our waterways include building reservoirs for water supply and hydropower; straightening and channeling steams for flood protection; developing towns and cities along the primary waterways; and taking water for irrigated agriculture. The combined results of these uses have been the reduction of stream side vegetation; degradation of water quality from agriculture and urban pollution; loss of native aquatic species; and a general degradation of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

The job of preserving our larger rivers, reservoirs and aquifers is a task for local, state, and national organizations. By protecting our smaller streams and restoring local watersheds we can each be a part of the solution. Since every one of use lives in a watershed, each of us directly affects the health of a nearby creek. Everyone can help restore, protect or enhance a stream at the local level. By monitoring streams that flow by our schools and homes, we can get an idea of the activities going on in the watershed upland from us. And we can make sure that we ourselves are not degrading water for the people who live downstream. You can do this by organizing a StreamTeam in your school or neighborhood. Your StreamTeam can adopt a stream to protect and enhance. You can also choose to raise aquatic species in an aquarium and release them into the adopted waterway at the appropriate time. The best way to learn about the creek near you is to jump in!


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Last Page Update - Tuesday December 27, 2005

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