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Janet Laminack: Steps can be taken to protect watersheds

Watershed — we’ve all heard of it, but we may not know what it is. It’s especially paramount that we in Denton County understand watersheds because we live in an important one.

The definition of a watershed is the “land area that contributes runoff to a given point in a stream, river, lake or groundwater.” Denton is in the watershed for Lewisville Lake. This means that when it rains, the water that runs off goes into the lake. This lake is used for a lot of things, including boating and fishing, but most importantly, as drinking water. 

It can be quite a disgusting revelation. Everything on the streets, yards, roofs — all of that rinses off and goes into the lake and then comes out of our faucets. Of course I’m skipping a step or two here where the water is cleaned and tested and made safe and not disgusting to drink.

But the point remains that keeping the water clean in the first place is better than cleaning it up. It costs us money to clean the water, and it uses a lot of energy to clean the water.

When we think of polluting streams and lakes, the imagery is of factories spewing out chemicals or large-scale agriculture. This, however, is not the case, and you may be shocked to learn that most pollution is considered nonpoint source.

This means there is not one lone source that can be easily identified, such as that factory in your mind with a pipeline to the lake; nope, that doesn’t exist. Nonpoint source is oil from our cars, spilled gasoline from our mowers on the driveway, not-picked-up-dog poop, trash that we let escape from our cars, too much fertilizer or pesticides from our lawns — isn’t this outrageous?

I am suggesting that we, the decent citizens of Denton, are polluting our lakes with our daily habits. The good news is that we, the decent citizens of Denton, can make small changes and make a difference in the water quality of North Texas.

There are great resources available to learn more about protecting our watershed including this upcoming free class offered by some of the leaders in watershed stewardship: Upper Trinity Regional Water District, the City of Denton Watershed Protection and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

The Texas Watershed Steward program is a free, one-day educational workshop designed to help watershed residents improve and protect their water resources by getting involved in local watershed protection and management activities.

The class will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Upper Trinity Regional Water District in Lewisville. Pre-registration is required at

shops/online-registration or call 979-862-8070.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883. Her e-mail address is jelaminack@ag.