You live, work and play in a watershed!

What is a watershed anyway?

A watershed is an area of land that channels rainfall downhill, either below or above ground to a common set of streams or rivers that in turn drain to a larger river or body of water. Large watersheds can contain many small watersheds. Watersheds are affected by soils, vegetation, animals and human activity. 

The water cycle

Watersheds function as part of a larger (hydrologic) cycle that redistributes water through evaporation and precipitation. As many of us learned in school, the water cycle includes evaporation, plant transpiration, cloud formation, condensation, precipitation and groundwater flow. When water reaches the earth's surface, it comes into contact with soil or other surfaces that cover the ground. If the soil is permeable, water can flow through it, infiltrating the soil and eventually replenishing aquifers and rivers or moving towards other larger bodies of water. Water that is held by soil may be returned to the atmosphere directly through evaporation or through the release of moisture by plants referred to as transpiration.