Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation District
People and Communities Care for Land and Water
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a water body
(stream, river, lake) that is at the lowest elevation compared to
the surrounding land. The way land is used affects the quality
and quantity of water in a watershed. For example, human
developments involving hard surfaces increase the water quantity and
decrease the water quality. Terms used for typical human land uses
include: industrial, residential, retail, agricultural.
- Where can I get my soil and/or
Soil and Water Testing Laboratories Page for a listing.
- How does a septic system work?
If you live outside the sewer/water service boundary of the
nearest city, then your house has what is known as a Home Sewage
Treatment System (HSTS). Liquid and solid wastes are sent to an
underground septic tank. Solids settle to the bottom, and
fluids flow out an outlet near the top to a leach field. The
leach field is a series of perforated pipes about 18" underground.
The liquid flows out the perforations into the soil, to be
decomposed into plant nutrients by soil bacteria. See the
HSTS page for additional information about maintenance and
- How should I take care of my
homeowners are interested in building or actively managing ponds.
Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation District can help homeowners with
things such as evaluations for potential pond sites, and pond design.
However, we're not actively involved in management of existing ponds.
We have a contact list of local vendors for pond
management supplies and services.
- What causes flooding?
Flooding is a normal event in natural environments, particularly
in the floodplain next to rivers (if not modified for human
purposes). Wetlands, woodlands and low-lying or depressional
land areas are also natural storage systems for excess water.
Most flooding in human environments can be because of structures
built in unsuitable locations. However most flooding is caused
by excessive development (hard surfaces like roads, buildings, etc.)
with inadequate engineering designs to handle the extra runoff that
can no longer infiltrate into woodland or meadow areas.
In the Midwestern United States, the land is particularly flat and
the soils have high clay content. This situation combined with
an average annual rainfall of 35 - 40 inches, means that Ohio
experiences significant flooding. In fact, most of the state
was comprised of open and wooded wetlands prior to European
settlement. Agriculture as we know it would not be possible
without open ditches and subsurface drainage tile.
- What causes stream bank erosion?
As mentioned above, flooding in natural areas is normal.
Streams and rivers are not stationary features of the landscape.
Erosion is a natural wearing-away of the soil in the stream bed and
banks. Scientifically this is known as sediment transport.
It is an important ecological process that affects plant and animal
communities in the riparian areas (land area adjacent to the
However, human activities usually interfere with this natural
process. Excessive development upstream creates large amounts
of storm runoff that accelerates the erosion / flooding process.
Water quality of runoff is also compromised by petroleum products,
fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals and whatever else is carried
away from industrial, residential and agricultural land uses.
- Who decides how development is
Every city, township and county government has a zoning and
planning department or board. It is their job to decide how
and where future building will take place. The difficult
aspect of this system is balancing tax revenue needs with quality of
life, sense of community, and environmental impacts.
Many studies have verified that the trend toward urban sprawl has
negative, long-term impacts on community life and the natural
environment. Because of increasing trends toward urban sprawl,
there has been a growing need for better land use planning through
education and training.