What is a Watershed?
We all live in a watershed — the area that drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, aquifer or even the ocean — and our individual actions can directly affect it. Working together using a watershed approach will help protect our nation's water resources.
A watershed approach is the most effective framework to address today's water resource challenges. Watersheds supply drinking water, provide recreation and sustain life. More than $450 billion in food and fiber, manufactured goods and tourism depends on clean water and healthy watersheds.
A Watershed Approach:
Is hydrologically defined
- geographically focused
- includes all stressors (air and water)
Involves all stakeholders
- includes public (federal, state, local) and private sector
- is community based
- includes a coordinating framework
Strategically addresses priority water resource goals (e.g. water quality, habitat)
- integrates multiple programs (regulatory and voluntary)
- based on sound science
- aided by strategic watershed plans
- uses adaptive management
Contact the EPA to ask a question, provide feedback or report a problem
Your local watersheds are the Huron and Rouge River Watersheds. Watersheds are associated with creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, but they are much more. A watershed is a highly evolved series of processes that convey, store, distribute, and filter water that, in turn, sustain terrestrial and aquatic life.
Only 30-40 percent of the rain or snow that we see hitting the ground goes directly to streams. Most of it, surprisingly, is taken up and used internally by plants. Some water penetrates soils and moves below as groundwater, feeding forests and replenishing aquifers. After infiltrating natural systems, water evaporates from rivers and wetlands, soils and plants. It returns to the atmosphere to fall again as precipitation. Water cycling cools the planet, cleans the air, and sustains life as we know it.
How to Help?