By: Michelle Lela Simpson, Communications Manager
It is no surprise that the Greater Houston region ranks in the top ten on the National Weather Service list of U.S. cities that have the most erratic weather conditions. Weather conditions, particularly flooding, can happen quickly and can be determined by weather and drainage conditions in surrounding geographical areas.
After numerous heavy rainfall events in recent years, local emergency management agencies, including the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), realized the need for a more effective way to communicate to the public information related to water flow patterns and watershed geographical locations within the San Jacinto River Basin. Simply put, many people do not know the meaning of the terms “basin” and “watershed” nor do they realize where they live in the San Jacinto River Basin in relation to the major rivers or their tributaries or how drainage and flow occur within their particular watershed.
At the request of and in partnership with other local agencies, SJRA has developed the Know Your Watershed campaign to help residents within the basin identify their watershed, recognize flow patterns across the basin, and provide important water-related facts in a creative way.
Pictured above: Know Your Watershed campaign Logo
The Know Your Watershed campaign is an interactive web platform designed to educate San Jacinto River Basin residents by engaging them in 1) identifying their watershed 2) recognizing drainage patterns 3) observing how water naturally drains throughout the basin, and 4) learning important water-related facts in a creative and entertaining way. Viewers can tap into the flow of information by clicking on an “Address Viewer” link and searching for their location, or they can take a virtual tour with perky waterdrop SJ Watershed and her friends by clicking on the “Story Map” feature.
Pictured above: Know Your Watershed Landing Page
Know Your Watershed is an educational website developed and maintained by the San Jacinto River Authority in partnership with other local entities. In order to extend the campaign’s reach throughout the region, SJRA worked with the Harris County Flood Control District and Montgomery County on the initial launch, and additional partners are being added as the campaign expands. The partners secured a unique URL www.knowyourwatershed.com to create brand recognition and consistency.
The campaign landing page, which was launched on September 9, 2019, provides two ways to search for watershed information: the user can click on the “Address Viewer” and search for a specific address location, or take a virtual tour down the West Fork of the San Jacinto River by clicking on the “Story Map” option. The Address Viewer is an address look-up tool that provides a map of the basin within watershed locations. Once an address is entered into the “Address Viewer,” it is highlighted within the watershed. The viewer also illustrates water flow pattern and general information in a pop-up box.
Pictured above: Address Viewer and Pop-Up
The “Story Map” option is a virtual tour down the West Fork of the San Jacinto River from the upper reaches of the Lake Conroe basin all the way to Lake Houston guided by an illustrated waterdrop with tons of personality, SJ Watershed. The “Story Map” is a robust tool that incorporates data, photos, verbiage, and videos to help residents in the San Jacinto River Basin understand their location within the basin and their specific watershed.
Pictured above: Story Map
With the unpredictability of Texas weather, it is essential to Know Your Watershed and the potential impact from rainfall that may be occurring elsewhere in your basin or an adjoining basin. Information from Know Your Watershed can help residents understand the potential impact of a given rainfall event and equip people with knowledge to assist in preparation for the next severe weather incident.
Our hope is that this project will provide residents with information on how they could be impacted by stormwater during a given weather event.
One of the major river authorities in Texas, SJRA’s mission is to develop, conserve, and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin. Covering all or part of seven counties, the organization’s jurisdiction includes the entire San Jacinto River watershed, excluding Harris County. If you would like to know more about SJRA, what we do, and how we work for the community, check out our website at www.sjra.net, like SJRA on Facebook @SanJacintoRiverAuthority, or follow us on Twitter @SJRA_1937.
Featured in the October, 2019 Issue of Dock Line Magazine.