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What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the surrounding land area that drains into a lake, stream, river, estuary, wetland, aquifer, or even the ocean. It includes natural and artificial drainage systems, such as ditches and storm sewers. The boundaries of a watershed are formed by the highest points in the landscape– they are like the edges of a bathtub or sink – any water that falls within it will drain downwards to the same outlet.

Melting snow and rainfall create flowing water over the landscape. This flowing water eventually drains into surface water bodies, ground water recharge areas, and wetlands. This flow is also absorbed into the ground along the way, as it moves to the drainage destination. In the Lake Huron Watershed, drainage destinations include lakes, streams, wetlands, and ground water – all familiar and important characteristics in our landscape. They provide us with numerous recreational uses, making significant and meaningful contributions to our local economies. And, the aesthetic character of these waters is also a source of immense value to local residential and business property owners.

Even if your home is not next to a lake, stream, or river, you still live in a watershed. Every water body has a watershed that surrounds it. Each of us lives in a watershed and shares in its water quality. Working together using a watershed approach will help protect our water resources.

This page last updated on 11/26/2014.

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