You are in one right now!
A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place – this includes water that flows on the surface and water located underground.
John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, defined a watershed as "that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
Despite countless complex definitions, the basic concept is easy to visualize. Water drains down the landscape, collecting into bodies of water such as streams, rivers and lakes. The entire drainage basin is the watershed. Unlike county lines and Congressional districts, a watershed is a natural division of the landscape that makes sense.
Generally, a ridge or elevated point separates one watershed from another. Large watersheds can be divided into smaller subwatersheds, drainages, and basins. It is important to remember that a watershed includes not only streams and waterways, but also the soil, forest, groundwater, etc.
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. No matter where you are, you're in a watershed!
Why is your watershed important?
Watersheds are the places we call home, where we work and where we play. Everyone relies on water and other natural resources to exist. What you and others do on the land impacts the quality and quantity of water and our other natural resources.
Healthy watersheds are vital for a healthy environment and economy. Our watersheds provide water for drinking, irrigation and industry. Many people also enjoy lakes and streams for their beauty and for boating, fishing and swimming. Wildlife also need healthy watersheds for food and shelter.
Why should you care?
Everyone is either upstream or downstream from someone else. What you do on your property will effect those below you and what is done upstream affects you. Every ownership within a watershed has a direct connection to every other property. Recognizing your position in the watershed is important to your quality of life.
Healthy watersheds have many positive attributes. Good water quality. Vegetation that protects the soil and prevents erosion. Plentiful and diverse aquatic and other wildlife. Low danger of catastrophic wildfire.
Everyone in a healthy watershed reaps the myriad benefits. Good stewardship activities can help maintain and enhance a healthy watershed or restore an unhealthy one.
To learn more visit the EPA Watershed site.
The City will soon place watershed signs, like the one seen here, in Grand Prairie's main subwatersheds. This will be done in order to raise citizens' watershed awareness and to fulfill a requirement set forth in the City's MS4 permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Watershed sign design courtesy of Jessica Albert.