What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Watersheds can be comprised of sub-watersheds or can be part of a larger watershed. Our Long Lake is part of the Squaw Creek Watershed. The Squaw Creek Watershed is part of the Fox River Watershed, which in turn flows to the Illinois River and then to the Mississippi River Basin.

 

From the USGS Water Science School

A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide. The watershed consists of surface water--lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands--and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. It all depends on the outflow point; all of the land that drains water to the outflow point is the watershed for that outflow location. Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area "above" the river-outflow point.

(Source: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watershed.html)

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