We celebrated Schoharie Watershed Month in May!
Did you know the Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin is part of the largest unfiltered water supply in the United States? The Catskill/Delaware water supply system, which includes the Schoharie Reservoir, supplies 90% of NYC's drinking water. Water from this system is considered the "champagne of drinking water."
Streamside plantings have begun for 2018!
Each year, GCSWCD plants hundreds of native trees and shrubs along streams within the Schoharie watershed. These plants are installed to increase the riparian buffer area along the stream.
What is a riparian buffer? Riparian, or streamside, buffers are vegetated or undisturbed natural areas along a stream. There are many benefits to installing a riparian buffer or increasing its size along a stream, including:
- Improved water quality: Riparian buffers serve as natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from polluted surface runoff. Riparian buffers reduce the amount of sediment flowing into streams by slowing surface water velocity and capturing sediment before it enters the stream. Riparian buffers reduce nutrients (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorous), pesticides, and other chemicals by slowing surface water velocity and allowing water to soak into the ground (infiltration) or be absorbed by the plants, which are able to naturally break down some of these pollutants.
- Increased habitat: Riparian buffers are extremely complex ecosystems that help provide optimum food and habitat for stream communities. The habitat provided by trees and shrubs also doubles as a corridor for species that have had their habitat fragmented by various land uses. Both aquatic and terrestrial species benefit from riparian buffers that have been protected or restored. The leaves and woody debris that fall into the stream provide food and habitat for even the tiniest of aquatic creatures, which are critical for the food chain.
- Stabilized streambanks: Native plants form extensive root systems that help hold the soil in place and slow the process of erosion.
- Water temperature control: By providing shade over the streams, trees and shrubs are able to help regulate the water temperature. They can even have a significant impact on moderating the effects of climate change on aquatic ecosystems, particularly in our headwater streams.
- Improved flood control: Riparian buffers encourage infiltration of stormwater by slowing the speed of the water running off the land and increasing the amount of water that is absorbed into the ground. Groundwater enters the stream at a much slower rate than surface water, which helps control flooding and maintain stream flow throughout the year.