When it comes to water quality, size is definitely not everything. Listen up for the big impact of small streams:
They may be little enough to hop, skip, and jump across, but even the smallest streams lead to healthier waterways.
In fact, small streams are “the heart and soul” of the whole system, according to Bern Sweeney, PhD, director and senior research scientist of the Stroud Water Research Center in Pennsylvania.
That’s because most everything that enters the larger watershed comes first through small streams, including water and pollutants.
“Streams can be enormous processors of organic materials, pesticides, of things like PCBs, if the stream is healthy,” he explains. “If a stream is dead, it becomes just a pipe that conveys contaminants from where they enter down to the ocean.”
So, to better protect waterways, we must pay as much or more attention to small streams as we do big rivers—because little currents can go a long way!
The fine print:
- This segment was produced in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future