What Is a Watershed?


A watershed is an area of land in which all the streams and rainfall flows to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes referred to as drainage basin or catchment. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide.

A watershed may consist of surface water – lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands – and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. All land that drains water to the outflow point is the watershed for that outflow location.

While all water is connected through the water cycle, it’s important to be able to manage water on a smaller scale. When focusing on a watershed, you can more easily track monitoring data like precipitation and groundwater levels, as well as address any issues that come up, from pollution to drought.

Every watershed is unique and requires distinct management strategies to ensure sustainability, which is why we employ Natural Resource Managers (NRM) to help make informed decisions about water resources. These professionally trained engineers, geologists, and hydrogeologists rigorously monitor a variety of environmental elements including precipitation, water levels, water flows, and water withdrawal.