What is a watershed? Rivers are the lifeblood of our planet. The "circulatory system” that pumps life into every corner of the globe.
A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points like reservoirs, bays, and the ocean. It consists of all surface water and all underlying groundwater within that area.
WATCH | What Is A Watershed (1:17min)
READ | What Is A Watershed
Some watersheds can be as small as a pond, and others can encompass thousands of miles of land and waterway until they drain into a body of water. A watershed can also have several smaller watersheds within it. Gravity guides these waterways across a variety of landscapes.
Ultimately, all water is part of the same cycle. Streams, lakes, rivers, and other waters are interconnected in the landscape and to the activities in the watershed. What happens upstream, near the source of a watershed's water, affects what goes on downstream, and through the basin. As such, the health of a watershed is important to everyone and everything that uses and needs that water.
WATCH | How The Chesapeake is Changing (4:26min)
In a healthy watershed, water, soil, and air are clean. People, as well as fish and wildlife, have the water, food, shelter, and other resources they need to survive and to thrive. A healthy watershed has the structure and function in place to support heathy aquatic ecosystems, which are easily impacted by winds, storms, waves, and tsunamis.
Other threats to healthy watersheds include human activities that alter the water and their watersheds such as 1) pollution from trash, pesticides, pet feces, etc. that enter the water system, 2) manmade changes to a river like damming, channelizing, and leveeing, 3) land development that interrupts the natural flow of the water, and 4) forest fires.
READ | Watersheds and Drainage Basins
WATCH | Watershed Management Changes in India (5:28min)
VIEW | Slideshow of Haiti's Basin Bleu Watershed
READ | Haiti's Demographic Profile (p64 shows all watersheds)