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PBL: Impact of Human Activity on Virginia Watersheds

Friday, June 13, 2014



Topic: Water & Living Systems

Theme: Human Impact on Water and Living Systems


1. Because of easy access to I-77 Carroll County has been selected as a proposed site for the Southwest Virginia Regional Landfill. Where in Carroll County could this landfill be built that would mitigate the effect on the New River Watershed? You are to present your findings to Carroll County Supervisors on the cost/benefits of facility.

2. The city of Roanoke is considering the construction of a new reservoir to serve the SE community. The proposed location of the new reservoir is beside the Roanoke River on what used to be an Indian Settlement. You have been tasked to assess the impact of this project on the community, and develop a cost/benefit analysis. You will present your findings to the town council.


How can we mitigate the effects of human activity on the community and Virginia watersheds?


Student Environmental Scientists with the Southwest Virginia Water Authority


Develop a report for the County Board of Supervisors. Your report could include presentations, project demonstrations, videos, interviews, debates and other forms of communication to address the pros and cons of this landfill or reservoir project.

download.jpgImpact of Human Activity on Virginia Watersheds Overview.pdf

Unit Background:

the impact of human activity on Virginia watersheds from either landfill or reservoir development. This unit has two scenerio options that will both work for the same unit. This is an example of modifying scenarios to appropriately fit your particular location. As students work through the selected scenerio a number of other questions will be addressed to help them develop their ideas and mitigation plans.

First, students will learn about the basics of water, watersheds, and water quality testing.

Lesson 1: Student will experiment with atom builders to understand the different elements, molecular attractions, and solvent characteristics of water.

Lesson 2: Students will learn and experiment with water quality testing and use this knowledge to conduct water quality analyses in the field.

Lesson 3: Students will explore watersheds and where the water comes from?

Next, students will explore the environmental impacts of this reservoir/landfill project.

Lesson 4: Students will analyze and experiment with landfill/reservoir designs and their potential impact on the physical and chemical characteristics of the watershed system.

Lesson 5: Students will explore what organisms will be affected by the development of the landfill/reservoir and investigate how these organisms will potentially be affected by the development.

Lesson 6: Students will explore the topography of the region to determine potential locations for development that would mitigate the impact on the environent.

Next, students will explore the economic impacts of the project.

Lesson 7: Students will research budgets for developing this project and identify organizations to complete the construction.

Lesson 8: Students will experiment with economic methods for filtering water associated with project.

Lesson 9: Students will research and debate/discourse to determine how the city/county will pay for the project and how the money that will be generated be used.

Finally, students will explore the cultural/community impacts of the project.

Lesson 10: Students will investigate any potential impacts on the community that the development of the project may create or affect throughout the project and after its creation.

Lesson 11: Using all of their research and experimental data, they will develop a plan to minimize the impact of the development of the landfill/reservoir.

Question Map:


​​download.jpgVirginia Watersheds Question Map.jpg

Unit Resources

VA Dept. of Recreation & Conservation:

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality:

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:

Created By:

Ms. Tate Carroll County Middle, Ms. Guzinski Stonewall Jackson Middle, Ms. Blankenship Andrew Lewis Middle, Mr. Agee Stonewall Jackson Middle.

by Jisha Paul at 12:35 PM in Elementary, Problem Based Learning, Life Science, Middle School
VISTA Universities