Watershed and forestry presentations enhance class studies
Fourth grade students at Grafton Bethel Elementary School recently had the chance to learn about watershed and forestry from those in the know – Newport News Waterworks. At Harwoods Mill Reservoir, the watershed property administrator, watershed inspector, chief of forest resources and forester all spoke with the young students about watersheds and the entire process from rain falling on the watershed through the water treatment process. Waterworks staff and the kids discussed forest management and its role in protecting water quality as well. The students also had the opportunity to view a watershed model and see firsthand how forested watersheds benefit water quality. This field trip provided an up close and personal experience that complemented what the students had been studying in class – watersheds, erosion and how water is protected.
Staff shared with students that as a first line of defense for protecting water quality, Newport News Waterworks manages approximately 12,000 acres of watershed property. An important part of that involves the forest management of the 8,100 acres of watershed forest that surround Lee Hall and Harwoods Mill reservoirs in Newport News and York County. Trees do an excellent job of filtering runoff, controlling erosion, and absorbing excessive nutrients. By managing the forests around the reservoirs, Waterworks creates conditions necessary for healthy trees. This protects water quality, leading to more efficient and cost-effective water treatment. Healthy, managed forests create age and species diversity to reduce the susceptibility of insect and disease infestations and to reduce the susceptibility of catastrophic wildfire. Other benefits of forest management include clean air, improved aesthetics and recreation, diverse wildlife habitat, and forest products.