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Watershed Exploration

Watershed Exploration and Protection Resources

Use these resources to guide your watershed exploration activities. Check back often – this page is a work in progress and we are always adding more!

Exploring Your Neighborhood

This set of resources provides materials for a walking exploration of your neighborhood. There is a drawing of the Grand River rapids, a historic image of Grand Rapids, a map of Grand Rapids showing areas at risk of flooding and the location of floodwalls, a scavenger hunt to identify flood protection evidence and nonpoint source pollution management practices, and a guide to conducting yard assessments to help homeowners reduce their nonpoint source pollution. Download each document by clicking on the links below.

Testing Water Quality

These resources will guide students as they evaluate the quality of the water in a local stream, pond, or lake. The GLOBE Program is a great resource for water quality testing protocols for students. Teachers attending the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016 received training in GLOBE testing procedures. Once trained, you can enter student data into a global database. Students can use this database to analyze their data and compare water quality in their communities with other locations worldwide.

We also are grateful to have Trout Unlimited as a Groundswell partner to assist schools with Leaf Pack Network activities. The leaf packs capture macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) to provide an estimate of stream health. Students identify and count the macroinvertebrates and enter the information into an online database. This database also provides tools for data analysis.

Designing Green Infrastructure

Traditionally, cities rely on “gray infrastructure” to manage runoff. Gray infrastructure includes storm drains and underground pipes that carry stormwater to local creeks, rivers, and lakes. The goal was to remove stormwater from the city as quickly as possible to prevent flooding. However, this approach can reduce water quality by adding pollutants, damaging habitats, and disrupting ecosystems.

Green infrastructure is a more natural approach for managing stormwater runoff. Examples of green infrastructure include rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavement, bioswales, and more. Selecting the right type of GI project depends on the specific site characteristics (size, soil, etc.) and the type of problem you are trying to solve.

We were thankful to have an engineer from the Grand Rapids Environmental Services Department present at the Groundswell Summer Institute 2016. He shared information about different types green infrastructure projects, how to select and design different projects, and how to estimate the environmental benefits. Below are the resources from that presentation.

This information was applied to a design challenge activity. Teachers created proposals for incorporating green infrastructure at Richmond Hills Park. Click here to download the design challenge activity.