No matter where you live, you reside in a watershed. The entire earth is made up of watersheds!
Do you live near a lake, a stream or creek, a river, on a town or city lot, in suburbia, on a farm? The land, no matter where you live, eventually drains downhill into a stream, river, or lake, and that land is a watershed. Think of a watershed as land shedding its water. When it rains and during snow melts, the surface water flows over land to its lowest point into a stream, river, or lake. Eventually the water flows into our largest bodies of water—seas and oceans.
Not all the water from precipitation flows over land. Some soaks or infiltrates into the shallow layers of the soil and eventually makes its way by seepage into a stream. Some infiltrates into the deeper layers of soil and recharges ground-water aquifers.
What physically separates one watershed from another? The separation is achieved by a low rise, the crest of a hill, or a mountain chain. Watersheds are not all alike. They differ from one another according to their topography, shape, size, soil type, and land use.
The name of a watershed often takes on the name of the river into which it drains, for example the Sugar River watershed. Watersheds are often divided into smaller units for management purposes such as the Upper, Middle and Lower Sugar River watersheds. These can be further divided into subwatersheds. The Lower Sugar River watershed is comprised of 13 subwatersheds, each named after a creek or stream that drains the surrounding land into the Lower Sugar River.
Do you know which Lower Sugar River subwatershed you live in? Think of that as your "watershed back yard!" If we all take care of our section of the watershed, we can protect our water quality and natural resources for generations to come.