Surely most, if not everyone of the high school students around the country has heard the term WATERSHED. But surely, also, an outstanding majority of those remain ignorant as to its true meaning. A watershed, in bottomline terms, is any stretch of a landscape that funnels down water from precipitation into any body of water ranging from a lake to a rivulet. In effect, it is (as we have learned in the forum) analogous to a kitchen sink: it catches water from the faucet (precipitation) and distributes it via its outlet.
The legal definition, however, is a bit more strenous. Involving the coordinated efforts of a hydrologist and other people skilled in the field, the entire terrain is mapped out to determine which parts effectively channel rain into the body of water in question. The Laguna de Bay, for example, has a water shed extending for more than its surface area, reaching even into Marikina and Antipolo.
Now that we have cleared this little but vital stumbling block into the nature of watersheds, let us shed more light on the roles that we, the youth, play in preserving or upsetting the balance of the watershed's ecosystems. As learned in our Science class, the hydrologic cycle, or water cycle, is the unending process that maintains the amount of water available for humans. But through exponential industrialization and the unchecked growth of the number of urban areas, this cycle that has been going on for millions of years before humans even existed, has suddenly gyrated off balance. Aside from the hackneyed issues of deforestation and the reckless conversion of agricultural and forest areas into urban settlements, strips of pavement covering the avenues of the modern day world interfere with the natural process of percolation (a somewhat fancy term for absorption) of rain water into water tables deep within the earth. Coupled with improper drainage and sewage systems that do nothing to hamper the pollution that laces our waters, these environmental banes of technology have effectively reduced the world's potable water supply into a mere diminishing drop.
In the face of such a colossal problem, what can the youth do? One very common and somewhat discouraging supposition is that youth is too young to effect any change. On one hand, this can be true, especially to the ordinary student for whom melding into the crowd is a habit more than a choice. And yet, to the one who stands out for self-expression, change is one thing that one cannot live without.
It also depends on what you are, your hierarchial place among the students. Are you a student leader? By chance you might have a good following behind you, and an avenue of communication with the school administration, which in turn, inevitably, has a place in the community. Do you see any problem with the environment you're in? Perhaps your local watershed faces the problems of deforestation, or of slash-and-burn farming. Perhaps your local river or lake overflows every time it rains, and you think you know the reason. Then it is up to you to communicate, to let the authorities know your side of the story. Young as we are, the progress we can effect, especially in moving as one and in cooperation with one another, can be startling.
Or, are you the commoner I described earlier? Do you think your voice is too small to be heard? In your own way, you can also effect changes, starting from your home, to setting examples for your schoolmates to follow. As said, youth is never too young for these matters.
Next year, the youth will once again exhibit their notions towards watershed welfare, in as much fashion as they did this year. What remains to be done is to take these notions home and turn them into concrete actions that wil benefit the community.
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