What is a watershed?
Reference provided by http://www.depweb.state.pa.us/justforkids
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common body of water. A watershed is defined not by political boundaries but by geographical barriers such as a ridge, hill, or mountain that determine how the water flows over the landscape. When a drop of rain falls on the land, it flows downhill into small creeks and streams, then into larger rivers, and eventually into lakes, wetlands, or the ocean.
Do You Know Your "Watershed Address"?
We all live in a watershed! In fact, we all have what some people call a “watershed address.” Just as your home is located on a street, within a city, within a state, your "watershed address" is the path taken by a water droplet from the moment it falls on or outside your home to when it enters a major waterway. Take a moment to think about where the water that rains on your home goes. After it leaves your lawn, street, or sidewalk, does it flow downhill straight to a nearby stream, to a puddle in your backyard, or to a storm drain that leads to a local creek?
Here in Southeastern Minnesota, we are part of the largest watershed in the United States, the Mississippi River Basin, which drains all or parts of thirty-one states and two Canadian provinces. Large watersheds are composed of smaller, sub-watersheds. In Minnesota there are eighty-one large watersheds. Cascade Meadow is a part of the Zumbro River Watershed, which covers 910,323 acres. This means that any water that falls on or flows through the land surrounding Cascade Meadow will eventually end up in the Zumbro River. From there, it will drain to the Mississippi River and eventually end up all the way down in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you live in the Rochester, MN area, your watershed address is Zumbro River Watershed, Mississippi River Basin!
We All Live Downstream!
The characteristics of a watershed play a large role in how water moves through it. Any changes made to the land will affect the functioning of that watershed. It’s important, therefore, to remember that what we do on the land affects the water quantity and quality for everyone and everything living downstream.
Run-off and Join the Cycle
By the way, not all the water that falls as rain runs off to join a creek or stream. So where does it go? It enters other parts of the water cycle. Some rain evaporates back into the air or filters into the soil where it is either taken up by plants or drains into the subsurface and becomes groundwater.
Surf your watershed! Find information about your watershed and groups working on water issues in your watershed by checking out these links: