Water is always a topic that seems to come up whenever folks are buying land, selling it, or improving what they already own. What is the difference between a creek and a stream? a pond and a lake? What is meant by riparian doctrine? What is watershed? a gaining stream? porosity?
Whether you are buying, selling, or improving, it is best to understand what these terms mean, and sometimes it can be an overwhelming task to search a host of different locations for such information. We have compiled a list of nearly 100 terms that will be helpful in any water issues you may face or want to learn more about. Below is a sampling of terms included in the glossary. Insider Basic Members can click here for the complete glossary of terms. Not an Insider? Join now, it’s free.
Baseflow – that part of streamflow derived from groundwater flowing into a stream or river.
Brook – a natural stream of water, smaller than a river or creek; especially a small stream that breaks directly out of the ground, as from a spring or seep.
Discharge – the volume of water that passes a given point during a given period. It is an all-inclusive outflow term, describing a variety of flows such as from a pipe to a stream, or from a stream or river to a lake or ocean.
Dispersion – the spreading and mixing of chemical constituents in both surface and groundwaters caused by diffusion and mixing due to microscopic variations in densities and velocities.
Eutrophication – the process of nutrient enrichment causing a water body to fill with aquatic plants and algae. Eutrophic lakes often are undesirable for recreation and may not support normal fish populations.
Field capacity – the amount of water a saturated soil contains after rapid internal drainage has ceased (approximately 2 days).
Limiting factor – any factor such as temperature, light, water, or chemical that limits the existence, growth, abundance, or distribution of an organism. For example, an increase in phosphorus loading to a lake, stream, or river can trigger the growth of algae.
Percolation – the movement of water through saturated soil layers, often continuing downward to groundwater.
Porosity – the ratio of the volume of open spaces or voids to the total volume of a material. For example, a sand and gravel deposit may have 20 % porosity. Porosity determines the amount of water that can be stored in a saturated formation. A saturated formation 100 feet thick with a porosity of 20 % could store an equivalent water depth of approximately 20 feet.