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Watershed Education

What is a Watershed?


What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land where water drains downhill to the lowest point.

Please click on glossary terms, indicated by bold text, for definition.

A watershed may also be called a drainage basin. Rain or snow melt can flow on top of the ground as runoff or soak into the ground. When surface water flows on top of the ground as runoff it travels to ditches, gullies, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, rivers and eventually to the ocean. When water soaks into the ground it is called infiltration and becomes groundwater. Groundwater recharges, or adds to the water in the aquifer, which supplies the water that we drink. When a large rainstorm supplies more water than can be taken into streams and rivers or soak into the ground, an area near the stream or river, called the floodplain, will store the water until it can flow downstream or soak into the ground. Floodplains may also have wetlands, which provide pollutant removal and help maintain the aquifer.

Groundwater can become contaminated with pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals from factories and other illegally dumped waste, when people are careless or intentionally dump these pollutants into the gutter or storm drain inlet. Signs like "No Dumping - Leads to Stream" are on storm drain inlets to remind people not to pollute.

What can you do to help stormwater runoff and groundwater free of pollutants?

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Watershed Management