Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Episode 581 (6-14-21): Introducing Watersheds with “Mountain Stream” by Bob Gramann

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:31).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 6-11-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 14, 2021.  This revised episode from April 2013 is part of a series this year of episodes related to watersheds and river basins.

MUSIC – ~ 8 sec – instrumental

This week, we feature a tune about stream paddling to introduce the key water resources concept of a watershed.  Have a listen to the music for about 40 more seconds.

MUSIC – ~40 sec – Lyrics: “As I paddle down the mountain stream, the unsuspecting beaver slaps his tail and swims to flee the brightly colored threat, the drinking deer sniffs the air and bounds into thicket, while blue heron wing in front of me then fly back overhead.  And I love to ride the back of a rushing mountain stream, to thread between the eddies amidst the banks of April green.  The icy water warms my blood, waves splash over me; in the river I am young, I am free.

You’ve been listening to part of “Mountain Stream,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, Va., with Laura Lengnick on fiddle, from the 2001 album “See Further in the Darkness.”  Streams flowing down mountain slopes are starting points for several of Virginia’s major rivers, such as the James, Rappahannock, and Shenandoah, because those streams are in the highest parts of those rivers’ watersheds.  A watershed is the land area from which surface water drains into a specific water body; accordingly a synonym for watershed is drainage area.  While water flowing downhill is a basic part of any watershed, different watersheds have distinctive features because of particular landscapes, geology, wildlife, vegetation, climate, and human land uses.

Watersheds also vary greatly in size: as the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science School has stated, “watersheds can be as small as a footprint or large enough to encompass all the land that drains water into…[the] Chesapeake Bay….”  The term “catchment” is sometimes used for smaller watersheds, while the term “basin” is often used for the watersheds of large rivers, coastal estuaries, and the seas and oceans.

Virginia has over 100,000 miles of streams, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  All of those stream miles are part of 14 major watersheds, including those of Virginia’s biggest rivers and the coastal areas that drain into the Chesapeake, Albemarle Sound, or the Atlantic Ocean.  On the largest scale, all of Virginia’s surface waters drain into one of two basins: the Atlantic Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River basin.  In parts of western Virginia—including Blacksburg, where this show originates—you can stand on the Eastern Continental Divide and have one foot in each of the Commonwealth’s largest watersheds.

Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “Mountain Stream.”

MUSIC – ~17 sec -  Lyrics: To rise before the mist is clear, to chase the rainfall down the hillside.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 156, 4-8-13.

“Mountain Stream” and “See Further in the Darkness” are copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  Laura Lengnick accompanied on fiddle.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at http://www.bobgramann.com.  This music was used previously by Water Radio most recently in Episode 546, 10-12-20. 

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Thornton River, Shenandoah National Park, Rappahannock County, June 19, 2006.

 Map showing Virginia’s major watersheds.  Map from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/stormwater_management/wsheds.shtml.

Map showing North America’s major watersheds.  Map from the U.S. Geological Survey, “Water Science School/Watersheds and Drainage Basins,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/watersheds-and-drainage-basins?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.


The following table of information about Virginia’s 14 major watersheds is from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/stormwater_management/wsheds.shtml.




Albemarle Sound Coastal


Dismal Swamp, North Landing River, Back Bay

Atlantic Ocean Coastal


Chincoteague Bay, Hog Island Bay

Chesapeake Bay Coastal


Chesapeake Bay, Piankatank River



Nottaway River, Meherrin River, Blackwater River



James River, Appomattox River, Maury River, Jackson River, Rivanna River



New River, Little River, Walker Creek

Potomac - Shenandoah


Potomac River, S. Fork Shenandoah River, N. Fork Shenandoah River



Rappahannock River, Rapidan River, Hazel River



Roanoke River, Dan River, Banister River, Kerr Reservoir



Ararat River



York River, Pamunkey River, Mattaponi River

Holston (Upper Tennessee)


N. Fork Holston River, Middle Fork Holston River, S. Fork Holston River

Clinch - Powell


Clinch River, Powell River, Guest River

Big Sandy


Levisa Fork, Russel Fork, Tug Fork


Used for Audio

U.S. Geological Survey, “Water Science School/Watersheds and Drainage Basins,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/watersheds-and-drainage-basins?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Hydrologic Unit Geography,” online at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/hu; and “Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/stormwater_management/wsheds.shtml.

Virginia Places, “The Continental (and Other) Divides,” online at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/watersheds/divides.html.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “Divide and Confluence,” by Alan Raflo, pages 8-11 in Virginia Water Central Newsletter, February 2000, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49316. 

For More Information about Watersheds and River Basins

Natural Resources Conservation Service/Virginia, “2020 Virginia Water Resources Progress Report,” online at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/va/programs/planning/.  This report has descriptions of projects in many Virginia watersheds.  The 2017 report is online at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/va/programs/planning/wo/.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “How’s My Waterway,” online at https://www.epa.gov/waterdata/hows-my-waterway.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Commonwealth of Virginia State Water Resources Plan,” April 2015, available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/water-supply-planning/virginia-water-resources-plan.

Virginia Places, “Rivers and Watersheds of Virginia,” online at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/watersheds/index.html.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on watersheds and Virginia rivers.  Please note that some of these episodes are being redone in summer 2021; in those cases, the respective links below will have information on the updated episodes. 

Big Otter River introduction (Roanoke River watershed) – Episode 419, 5-7-18.

Big Sandy River watershed introduction – Episode 419, 5-7-18.

Blue Ridge and three watersheds - Episode 209, 4-14-14.

Bullpasture and Cowpasture rivers introduction (James River watershed) – Episode 469, 4-22-19.

Hazel River introduction (Rappahannock River watershed) – Episode 339, 10-24-16.

Headwater streams – Episode 397, 12-4-17.

Jackson River introduction (James River watershed) – Episode 428, 7-9-19.

Madison County flooding in 1995 (on Rapidan River, in Rappahannock River watershed) – Episode 272, 6-29-15

Musical tour of rivers and watersheds - Episode 251, 2-2-15.

New River introduction – Episode 109, 5-7-12.

Ohio River basin introduction – Episode 421, 5-21-18.

Ohio River basin connections through watersheds and history – Episode 422, 5-28-18;

Passage Creek and Fort Valley introduction (Shenandoah River watershed) – Episode 331 – 8/29/16.

River bluffs – Episode 173, 8-5-13.

Rappahannock River introduction – Episode 89, 11-21-11.

Shenandoah River introduction – Episode 130 – 10/1/12.

Smith River and Philpott Reservoir introduction (Roanoke River watershed) – Episode 360, 3-20-17.

South Fork Holston River introduction (Clinch-Powell/Upper Tennessee River watershed) – Episode 425, 6-18-18.

Staunton River introduction (part of the Roanoke River) – Episode 374, 6-26-17.

Virginia rivers quiz – Episode 334, 9-19-16.

Virginia surface water numbers – Episode 539, 8-24-20.

Virginia’s Tennessee River tributaries – Episode 420, 5-14-18.

Water cycle introduction – Episode 191, 12-9-13; and water cycle diagrams reconsidered – Episode 480, 7-8-19.

Watershed and water cycle terms related to stormwater – EP365 – 4/24/17.

Water quantity information sources – Episode 546, 10-12-20.

Werowocomoco native people’s civilization history, centered in the York River watershed – Episode 364, 12-12-16.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems. 

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations. 

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.
2.6 – Major rivers, mountains, and other geographic features of North America and other continents.
3.6 – Major rivers, mountains, and other geographic features of North America and other continents.

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – Natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – Knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – How regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.4 – Types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.

Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.

Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.

Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.

Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.

Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.

Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.

Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.

Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.