2E. Water’s Journey


Tasks to be completed:

  1. Complete video
  2. Draw where you believe our water comes from (00:33:15 of video)
  3. Complete evaluation activity after the video
  4. Complete discussion prompt


  • Blank sheet of paper
  • Writing utensil



On the same sheet of paper you used or on a new sheet, draw where our water comes from now that you have completed the video.  This can be a sketch of the path our water takes or a flowchart.  It’s completely up to you.

You will upload this drawing along with your other drawing in the evaluation form at the end of this section.



  • Alluvial Aquifer – unconfined aquifers relatively close to the surface that have a river flowing through it
  • Aquifer – a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater
  • Confluence – the junction of two rivers, especially rivers of approximately equal width
  • Consumptive Use – diverted water used by crops
  • Evaporation – occurs as the sun heats the surface of a body of water and changes the water from liquid to gas (water vapor)
  • Frontal Systems – form due to the clash of opposing warm and cold air masses; a warm front marks the boundary of an advancing warmer air mass while a cold front marks the boundary of a cold air mass
  • Groundwater – water held underground in the soil or in pores and crevices in rock
  • Headwaters – the source of a river
  • Infiltration – process by which water on the ground surface enters the soil
  • Lake – an area where surface-water accumulates in a low spot relative to its surrounding
  • Percolation – the movement and filtering of fluids through porous materials
  • Precipitation – clouds become saturated as condensation particles become too large and fall to earth in form of rain, hail, sleet or snow
  • Rain Shadow – a dry area on the leeward side of a mountainous area where the mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a “shadow” of dryness behind them
  • Reservoir – man-made lake where a dam is built on a river causing the river water to back up accumulating behind the dam
  • Return Flow – water that returns to surface or ground water after human use is
  • Seepage – the slow escape of a liquid or gas through porous material or small holes into the soil or out of the soil
  • Surface-water – water that collects on the surface of the ground
  • Runoff – the flow of water occurring on the ground surface
  • Topography – the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area
  • Transpiration – movement of water in any of its three forms through the atmosphere
  • Tributary Aquifer – an aquifer near a river or stream that’s constantly interacting with surface water flows


Recommended Reading:

Discussion Prompt:

How familiar were you with our water’s journey?  Did you have a good understanding of where our water comes from?  Did you find any of the information surprising?

If you have any questions, please list them in the comments below.  Feel free to submit any additional thoughts you have as well.

wellwatchadmin2E Water’s Journey


Join the conversation
  • Colette Hunt - July 10, 2020

    I was pretty familiar with where our water comes from thanks to taking the confluence institute. I knew that much of our water gets stored in reservoirs and then released into rivers to be eventually diverted into our treatment facilities and then on to us. We are very lucky to have fresh clean water.

    I always knew that most of the population of Colorado lived in the eastern part and most of the moisture falls on the western but I didn’t realize it was such a high percentage. That complicates things a great deal. Especially considering so many other states (18!) rely on that water as well. I also did not know that this state is the headwaters for four major rivers. I knew Colorado was known as the headwater state I just didn’t know why!

  • Benita Wilson - July 13, 2020

    I was fairly familiar with our water’s journey. I knew the basics like evaporation, condensation, precipitation, runoff and transpiration.

    I thought the “lifetimes” of water very interesting. We know water is cycled and not created, but to know that water in the ocean can stay there for up to 4,000 years really puts things into perspective. The role farmers take in the water cycle was also very interesting. So much of that water is just “borrowed” and left for those downstream. We all do play a part in the water cycle.

  • Kiera Mekelburg - July 14, 2020

    I am fairly familiar with where our water comes from, I can actually remember a song we learned in 4th Grade to help us remember it.

    One thing I found interesting is the life span of a water molecule. I was wondering how they test how old a water molecule is or how they know it can reach that age?

    Abigail Seen - July 17, 2020

    You’re gonna have to sing and teach this to us! <3
    Love you, K!

  • Andy Russell - July 17, 2020

    I had the basic idea, but my percentages were a little off (I had 80%/20% in my mind for the Continental Divide split). I hadn’t heard the nickname Headwater State before. I like Kiera’s question: how can we date water? Even an old piece of wood in an aquifer doesn’t tell us much – the water could be older or younger than the carbon date of the wood. I would imagine water at the bottom of the ocean isn’t mixed well with surface water, so I’d expect some molecules could be far older than 4,000 years. As a physics teacher I am contractually obligated to note that the hydrogen in all the water around us was created in the first couple of seconds of the Universe (with some neutrons decaying into additional protons over the next half-hour). 🙂

  • Abigail Seen - July 17, 2020

    Many facts from this information is pretty new to me! How surprising! What surprised me the most is 85% of Colorado’s population occupies South Platter River Basin. That is a problem because 85% of the water flows westward from the continental Divide, considering that Eastern Plains has more demand for water (I assume) because of the farmlands. How could we take the freshness of the Colorado water for granted? We get first “dibs” from a pristine source before it even reaches other states. This could be a great discussion point for student focusing on water conservation and privileges. Plants only use 1% of the water that go through their roots and the rest transpire. Is that why hydroponics work for plants? It uses less water and more on the oxygen content.

  • Marissa Jordening - July 17, 2020

    I was fairly familiar with the water cycle, but it was interesting to me to see it specifically applied to our region. Snowmelt plays such a huge role in our state that other states don’t see as much. I feel like my understanding is more complete about where our water comes from.
    As others have mentioned, I thought the time spans of water molecules in certain stages was very intriguing. We don’t often reflect on where our water was or how long it was there before it came to us.

  • Ambrette Gilkey - January 7, 2021

    So much great and complex information. Drawing along really helps with my understanding, it will take a few more times of watching and drawing along to understand more deeply…and good to remember to allow that time for students as well when introducing or even talking about new/old topics. I knew that most of the population lives on the eastern part of the rocky mountains, but did not realize that 85% of the water is on the western slope. The engineering and solutions to get water to the eastern slope just astounds me. Information on the aquifers and relationship to the geological formations is starting to make sense to me know. Trying to understand all of this makes me appreciate the complexity of water laws, municipalities, and appreciation for our founding fathers.

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