What is a watershed?

The term watershed describes an area of land that drains down slope to the lowest point. Water moves either underground or on the surface and then converges into ditches, streams and rivers. These water bodies become progressively larger as the water moves on downstream, eventually reaching an estuary and the ocean. Watersheds can be large or small. Every stream, tributary, or river has an associated watershed, and small watersheds join to become larger watersheds.

As a resident of a watershed, you are involved either directly or indirectly in making an impact on the land and water in your area, regardless of how close you are to streams and lakes. You’ve probably heard the term, ‘it all flows downstream’. This is true with water, and whatever it carries: debris, chemicals, leaves, nutrients and more. All of us impact our watersheds in one way or another: water use, land use, recreational activities, pets and livestock, logging, farming, and more.