The articles included on this page provide definitions and descriptions for a variety of common terms related to our watershed.
large, visible masses of algae that develop in bodies of water during warm weather. Algal blooms are the result of excessive levels of nutrients (generally phosphorus or nitrogen) in water.
A Glossary of Water-Related Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2017, from http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/442/442-758/442-758.html
Part of federal water quality requirements. Calls for all existing uses to be protected, for deterioration to be avoided or at least minimized when water quality meets or exceeds standards, and for outstanding waters to be strictly protected.
Glossary of Watershed Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2017, from http://cumberlandrivercompact.org/resources/glossary-watershed-terms/
the point at which the flow just begins to enter the active floodplain. Accurate measurements have been conducted on gaged streams, however, in absence of historical hydrological records there are a number of field indicators that can be used to identify bankfull stages with a great deal of accuracy: • An abrupt change in the slope of the stream channel, usually from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane on top of the floodplain. • The bankfull stage is usually marked by a change in vegetation such as the change from gravel bars to forbs, herbs, or grasses. Persistent woody vegetation is usually indicative of upland terrain, but can be misleading. • Erosion or scour features. These features indicate areas just below the bankfull stage and are recognized as significant characteristics of stream dynamics. • Flat depositional benches, lateral bars, or point bars, usually created by lateral or downward movement of streams and can create active floodplain areas. • Change in the size distribution of sediment materials at the surface from fine gravel to cobbles, from sand to gravel or even fine gravel material. It can change from fine to coarse or coarse to fine. • Stain lines can indicate frequent inundation of water on rocks. Stain lines may be marked by sediment or lichens.
Glossary of Watershed Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2017, from http://www.coastalrcd.org/zone9/factsheets/glossary.html
In its simplest concept discharge means outflow; therefore, the use of this term is not restricted as to course or location, and it can be applied to describe the flow of water from a pipe or from a drainage basin. If the discharge occurs in some course or channel, it is correct to speak of the discharge of a canal or of a river. It is also correct to speak of the discharge of a canal or stream into a lake, a stream, or an ocean. (See also Streamflowand Runoff.)
The data in the reports of the Geological Survey on surface water represent the total fluids measured. Thus, the terms discharge, streamflow, and runoff represent water with the solids dissolved in it and the sediment mixed with it. Of these terms, discharge is the most comprehensive. The discharge of drainage basins is distinguished as follows:
- Yield. Total water runout or crop; includes runoff plus underflow.
- Runoff. That part of water yield that appears in streams.
- Streamflow. The actual flow in streams, whether or not subject to regulation, or underflow.
Each of these terms can be reported in total volumes (such as acre-feet) or time rates (such as cubic feet per second or acre-feet per year). The differentiation between runoff as a volume and streamflow as a rate is not accepted.
Science in Your Watershed. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/wsc/glossary.html
The acceleration of the loading of nutrients to a lake by natural or human-induced causes. The increased rate of delivery of nutrients results in increased production of algae and consequently, poor water transparency. Human-induced (cultural) eutrophication may be caused by input of treated sewage to a lake, deforestation of a watershed, or the urbanization of a watershed.
A little insight on Lake Erie’s eutrophication problems: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631662/
Glossary of stream, lake and watershed terms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/watersheds/general-information/glossary.aspx
Strip of natural vegetation growing parallel to a stream that provides wildlife habitat and an erosion and flood buffer zone. This strip of vegetation also retards rainfall runoff down the bank slope and provides a root system that binds soil particles together.
Glossary of River Terminology. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.texasthestateofwater.org/screening/html/gloassary.htm
are mainly artificial structures—such as pavements (roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots) that are covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, stone, and rooftops.
For further information on the topic check out: http://www.hillsdalecounty.info/planningeduc0004.asp
Large Woody Debris (LWD)- Natural wooden structures (logs) placed along the banks of rivers/creeks to improve aquatic habitat. Methods vary, but it simply means placing logs into the river.
LWD application in Grass River: Non-point sediment threatens the navigability of the river.
Hypothesis: Log structures will reflect some of the flowing water and cause subtle shifts in water current direction and velocity, resulting in deeper pockets and channels forming as sediment is scoured from the riverbed around the structures.
A lake which has one mixing and one stratification event per year. If a lake does not freeze over in the winter, the winter winds will mix the waters of the lake. In summer, the lake resists mixing and becomes stratified because the surface waters are warm (light) and the bottom waters are cold (dense).
Glossary of stream, lake and watershed terms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 01, 2017, from http://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/watersheds/general-information/glossary.aspx
non-point source (NPS) pollution–pollution discharged over a wide land area, not from one specific location. These are forms of diffuse pollution caused by sediment, nutrients, organic and toxic substances originating from land-use activities, which are carried to lakes and streams by surface runoff. Non-point source pollution is contamination that occurs when rainwater, snowmelt, or irrigation washes off plowed fields, city streets, or suburban backyards. As this runoff moves across the land surface, it picks up soil particles and pollutants, such as nutrients and pesticides.
Perlman, H. (n.d.). Water Science Glossary of Terms. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html
- perennial yield – maximum quantity of water that can be annually withdrawn from a groundwater basin over a long period of time (during which water supply conditions approximate average conditions) without developing an overdraft condition
Glossary of Water Terminology. (2015, August 13). Retrieved January 16, 2017, from http://www.worldatlas.com/h2oterms.htm
Here’s a link to learn a little more about what is going on here in Michigan with groundwater pumping. http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/12/why_nestle_pays_next_to_nothin.html
Land next to a stream or river that is vegetated, usually with trees and shrubs, that serves as a protective filter for streams. A buffer helps to stabilize stream banks from washing away and to reduce the impact of upland sources of pollution by trapping, filtering, and converting sediments, nutrients, and other chemicals. In addition, a buffer helps supply food, cover, and thermal protection to fish and other wildlife. Riparian buffers can be 300 feet wide or 20 feet wide; it depends on the stream and the land around the stream.
Glossary of Watershed Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2017, from http://www.coastalrcd.org/zone9/factsheets/glossary.html
the rights of an owner whose land abuts water. They differ from state to state and often depend on whether the water is a river, lake, or ocean. The doctrine of riparian rights is an old one, having its origins in English common law. Specifically, persons who own land adjacent to a stream have the right to make reasonable use of the stream. Riparian users of a stream share the streamflow among themselves, and the concept of priority of use (Prior Appropriation Doctrine) is not applicable. Riparian rights cannot be sold or transferred for use on nonriparian land.
Perlman, U. H. (n.d.). Water Science Glossary of Terms. Retrieved March 06, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html
Heavy stones used to protect soil from the action of fast-moving water. True restoration tries to eliminate or minimize the use of riprap, using plants with strong root systems to anchor soil instead (e.g. willows). The use of riprap can lead to many detrimental effects, including increasing water volumes and flow (which leads to flooding and bank erosion), and constricting stream channels (which exacerbates flooding)
(n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2017, from http://www.coastalrcd.org/zone9/factsheets/glossary.html
The use of natural methods to control creek bank erosion, and to restore natural stream habitat. Also referred to as, “biotechnical slope protection,” soil-bioengineering involves the use of live and dead woody cuttings and poles or posts collected from native plants, to revegetate watershed slopes and stream banks. The cuttings, posts, and vegetative systems composed of bundles, layers, and mats of the cuttings and posts provide structure, drains, and vegetative cover to repair eroding and slumping slopes.
TLA use of LWD in the Grass River is a great example of soil bioengineering.
Glossary of Watershed Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.coastalrcd.org/zone9/factsheets/glossary.html
very fine soil particles that remain in suspension in water for a considerable period of time without contact with the bottom. Such material remains in suspension due to the upward components of turbulence and currents and/or by suspension.
Perlman, U. H. (n.d.). Water Science Glossary of Terms. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html
A TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards. Water quality standards identify the uses for each waterbody, for example, drinking water supply, contact recreation (swimming), and aquatic life support (fishing), and the scientific criteria to support that use. The Clean Water Act, section 303, establishes the water quality standards and TMDL programs.
Glossary of stream, lake and watershed terms. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/watersheds/general-information/glossary.aspx
xeriscaping–a method of landscaping that uses plants that are well adapted to the local area and are drought-resistant. Xeriscaping is becoming more popular as a way of saving water at home.
More on xeriscaping: http://www.the-landscape-design-site.com/xeriscaping.html
Perlman, H. (n.d.). Water Science Glossary of Terms. Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html