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Science Hydrology


A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water

by (author) Gregor Gilpin Beck

illustrated by Clive Dobson

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Feb 2022
Hydrology, Water Supply, Environmental Conservation & Protection
Recommended Age
12 to 17
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 1999
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Water is our most vital resource, yet few understand even the basics of watershed ecology. This new edition has been updated to reflect growing environmental challenges, such as climate change, the insidious spread of invasive species and the loss of biodiversity.

Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water is an engaging and informative introduction to ecology and environmental issues that focuses on water-related issues. Well suited for youth or general readers of any age, Watersheds combines a profusion of beautiful illustrations with accessible text, making it attractive as well as informative. The book explains ecological principles and environmental challenges, introduces North America's major biological regions, outlines the complexities of water and nutrient cycles, and explains the ecology of wetlands and waterways. Watersheds also explains some of the major environmental issues facing North America, including air pollution, water pollution, invasive exotic species, and habitat loss and destruction.

Watersheds provides detailed information on:

  • water and nutrient cycles
  • bioregions and aquatic habitats
  • exotic species invasions
  • water and air pollution
  • ecological restoration
  • habitat loss.

While Watersheds identifies and explains multiple ecological challenges, the book is engaging, empowering, and positive, providing practical "How Can I Help?" sections aimed at inspiring participation in efforts to restore watersheds and protect the environment. As the book explains, what's good for one's local watershed is also good for the planet - so we can all help protect and restore our natural environment.

About the authors

Gregor Gilpin Beck's profile page

Clive Dobson is a versatile artist and illustrator with many books to his credit including Tex and Watersheds. He lives in Toronto.

Clive Dobson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

[Review of previous edition:] You flush the toilet, then go to the sink and get yourself a glass of water -- water that may be coming from the same place your toilet content was just sent. Perhaps being a little more educated on watersheds and how to protect them isn't such a bad thing. Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water, a heavily illustrated recent re-release of a 1999 book, touches on a wide range of topics, from how seasonal temperature patterns affect oxygen levels in lakes to the many ways in which humans negatively alter natural cycles -- releasing substances that cause ozone depletion and acid rain, clear-cutting forests and, yes, treating sewage without properly filtering toxins. The book is full of tips on how to ease your ecological footprint -- for example, instead of using road salt, try sand on your steps or, say, an old-fashioned shovel. Watersheds may be too basic for established environmentalists, but it will be appreciated by curious readers concerned about what happens to their toilet water when they flush.

Canadian Geographic

[Review of previous edition:] This is a good book, mainly because it covers a wide range of watershed-related issues in a reader-friendly style.

Science Books and Films

[Review of previous edition:] A Recommended Book. Watersheds brings to its readers an enticing survey of the essential elements of water ecology. From the elementary concept of a watershed to more intricate biological aspects of wetland ecosystems and their impact upon the environment, this book delivers the most up-to-date scientific information in a simplified format and writing style... Clive Dobson's more than 100 beautifully crafted color illustrations augment the text and make reading the book easy, informative, and enjoyable... This handbook will be a useful resource for middle and high school teachers as well as high school students.

National Science Teachers Association

[Review of previous edition:] This is an excellent primer on ecology, simply written and charmingly illustrated with more than 100 watercolors.

Canadian Geographic

[Review of previous edition:] Watersheds seeks to explain simply why putting poisons in the water is bad by showing how watersheds work, how all water systems -- streams, sewers, rivers, oceans, our own plumbing -- are interconnected and interdependent. ... The author's method is excellent. ... It would make a good supplementary text for a high school biology class, but would also be nice for the ecologically conscious parent.


[Review of previous edition:] This is a good reference for older children and interested grown-ups. It's all about water -life-giving water that is the most precious resource on the planet, yet one of the most poorly understood. It's clearly and simply written by biologist Gregor Beck, who explains what a watershed is--essentially a region that drains into a particular body of water. Clive Dobson's lovely watercolour renderings help us quickly grasp the interconnectivity of our water systems, of life.... There are sections about the ecology of hard-working marshes, ponds and estuaries, and an explanation of why floods are devastating but important. I like how the book connects human actions to the health of our watersheds, and provides pages of useful tips: raking leaves by hand instead of using polluting leaf blowers; properly disposing of hazardous household products, not dumping them down the drain; and pulling weeds by hand instead of spraying them with toxins. There's also a hopeful section on restoring the health of streams and rivers.

Calgary Herald

[Review of previous edition:] Should be required reading for every citizen ... This book clearly explains the value of clean water, wetlands, and proper watershed management.


Other titles by Clive Dobson