Watershed Basics

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a common water body such as a stream, river, lake or ocean.

There are several excellent websites that talk about watersheds, how they work, and how they formed. We recommend that you visit the following:

Why Should You Care About a Watershed?

It is important to care about a healthy watershed because:

  • A healthy stream system can be enjoyed recreationally, can support a healthy natural biological community, and can function in a non-destructive way during heavy rain events.
  • There are ways to reduce the risk of flooding that also enhance water quality and a watershed’s recreational value at the same time.
  • Costs associated with flooding affect every one of us through federal, state, and local tax dollars required to address emergency management and repairs.
  • Our drinking water is taken from either an aquifer, stream, or river.
  • Dirty water costs more to purify than cleaner water.
  • Recreational users can be directly impacted by stream health through contact with bacterial or other contaminants.
  • Better fish populations due to good water quality increase the recreational opportunities of a stream system and can increase revenue of service industries and businesses that surround it.
  • A healthier watershed and clean streams become a source of pride for the community and may increase property values. Streams that are polluted or full of litter are unattractive and have a negative impact.

(Taken from Pine Creek and You: A Partnership for the Future, A Resident’s Guide to Promoting a Healthy Watershed. This pamphlet and summary brochure can be downloaded here.)