The Watersheds Project

The Watersheds Project is a fiscally-supported project of The Ocean Foundation. Tax deductible contributions can be made via our online form.

The Watersheds Project provides visual geospatial and temporal literacy to help the world discuss the nature of global issues and apply their focus on local action to help combat negative global trends or magnify positive global trends from the perspective of their community.

The project enables communities to participate in a process we design on behalf of their local watershed. The project helps communities participate in community health through a water quality focus by servicing its visual geospatial literacy needs to a customized interface, built upon a shared on-line interface, to allow a community to promote their own specific Web address with a Watershed-to-Ocean Initiative tool suite available in the project website. What does that mean? Take a look at an example watershed tutorial.

The Watersheds Project began as a two-year start-up project at The Ocean Project (itself a fiscally-supported project of The Ocean Foundation) and spun off on January 1, 2011 to continue its existence as a separate entity that works closely with The Ocean Project to leverage shared agendas, missions, and business plans.

The Watersheds Project provides communities around the world mapping tools to build a strong geospatial visual literacy on the subject of the local watershed. We provide communities with on-line tutorials and education materials to teach how to use watershed visualization for planning community action towards watershed quality (e.g. water quality, biodiversity, native species, eco-friendly development, etc.).

We intend to provide back-end social networking facilities for connecting citizens in the watershed for them to use to communicate tasks and opportunities for civic engagement. Computer-mediated communications services have been successful for many social groups through popular tools like Facebook and Lotus Notes. Our focus is to build consensus among citizens as to the benefits of civic-mindedness, volunteering, and life-long learning centered around environmental awareness and conservation.

As a close partner of The Ocean Project, which sponsored our work for the first two years of project growth, we make strong connections between watershed health and ocean health as a large majority of watershed waters end up in the ocean and become a key constituent of ocean health. We are building a worldwide visualization of all stream networks whereby anyone who has a Web browser can investigate the globe and click on a landmass to see how water at that location drains to the ocean via intermediary streams, rivers, deltas, and bays. The visualization is built bottom-up whereby any community can manage the stream network data and water characteristics description for their local watershed. Wiki-like review by knowledgeable scientists facilitates long-term quality improvements over time, but puts responsibility for primary management in the hands of communities.

Many bottom-up ideas will be considered for implementation in Watersheds Project work. An adopt-a-stream-segment exemplifies a potential facility for allocating stream quality accountability and knowledge acquisition worldwide. Having worked with watershed scientists, we will aim to connect the top-down scientist approaches we have seen in action with bottom-up general public understanding.