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Homeowners Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac

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JanuaryThe Big Picture

Learn about the Hydrological Cycle: 
Movement of Water in the Environment

  • Solar energy evaporates water from the oceans. The water may then return as rain or snow (precipitation). Water can take different routes back to the atmosphere.
  • Rain or snow falls. Most is intercepted by vegetation before it reaches the earth’s surface. Some water never reaches the ground and evaporates back into the atmosphere (interception).

The Hydrologic Cycle

  • Some of the water that infiltrates the soil is taken up by plants and released via transpiration.

  • Remaining water infiltrates down through layers of soil and substrate until it reaches the water table and recharges the groundwater.

  • When the soil becomes saturated, overland flow carries water across 
    the land to ponds, lakes, or streams.

Why is water quality important?
Properly managed water resources provide high-quality drinking water, fishing and swimming, and support habitats for a variety of plants and wildlife.

What is a watershed?
The land area that drains into a particular water body. All land is in a watershed and everybody lives in a watershed.

January is a good time to
  • learn what watershed you live in.
  • “surf your watershed” at
  • investigate community efforts to preserve and protect water quality.
  • review your lawn and garden practices.

How do pollutants enter the water supply?

Urban development removes vegetation and replaces it with buildings, streets,  walkways, and driveways, thus preventing water from infiltrating the soil. 


The resulting runoff carries pollutants such as yard waste, fertilizers, pesticides  discharged on paved surfaces, and animal waste into water bodies. Even runoff that flows into storm sewers (drains) may be discharged directly into streams and lakes.


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This page last updated on
November 05, 2000

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