Hydrological Studies and the Mason Watershed
When it comes to hydrological studies, Mason offers its students and faculty a unique living laboratory; the Fairfax campus functions as its own independent watershed.
According to Dr. Chris Jones, a freshwater ecologist and professor at Mason, “a watershed is an area of land that drains to a particular water body.”
For the Fairfax campus, that particular body of water is Mason Pond. All the rainfall that lands on campus drains to the pond as well as local streams. This means any runoff flowing downhill into these water bodies absorbs what is on campus — whether that be pollution or physical debris. Thus, the activity of campus has a direct impact on many surrounding streams, ponds and lakes.
Simply put by Dr. Jones, “water goes in a watershed, and as water goes through, that land is going to influence the quality and quantity of water.”
He said a healthy watershed is essential to sustaining human development, protecting ecosystems and ensuring that water sources can be utilized for years to come.
Mason Pond is not the only body of water that is effected by campus activity. West Campus and the area surrounding the Field House belong to another watershed that eventually drains to Pohick Creek. Also, much of Fairfax County drains to Lake Accotink. Though Mason Pond, Pohick Creek and Lake Accotink are each small watersheds, they also belong to the much larger Potomac Watershed that includes water sources from multiple states.