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What is a watershed?

What is your “watershed address”? Everyone lives in a watershed.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land from which surface and groundwater water drain to the lowest point. This point could be another stream, a lake, a river, a bay, or an ocean. Synonyms for a watershed include drainage basin or catchment basin.

Everyone lives in a watershed!

Watersheds can be large or small. Every stream, tributary, or river has an associated watershed, and small watersheds join to become larger watersheds. It is relatively easy to delineate watersheds using a topographic map that shows stream channels. Watershed boundaries generally follow major ridgelines around channels and meet at the bottom, where water flows out of the watershed, a point commonly referred to as a stream or river.

Why is the concept of a watershed important?

The idea of a watershed is important because it connects the water in a stream, lake, or river with the land that surrounds it. Because water moves from the land into a stream and activity that impacts the water quality or quantity in a watershed can affect all the locations downstream of this point. Because we all live in a watershed, we all need to do our part to protect our watershed’s health!