What is a Watershed?

A watershed is more than just the creek, river, stream or lake you see which contains water. The United States EPA defines the watershed as “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 the land under the snow which melts and feeds the rivers. It includes the land where our orchards and farms grow, and the land under our homes. Any land on which water drains and goes to the same place (aquifer, river, creek, pond) is considered part of a watershed.

Watershed example from the Canada Natural Resources website

Watershed example from the Canada Natural Resources website

John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, defines 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.

The watershed consists of surface water-lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands-and all the underlying ground water. 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. 

Our individual actions can directly affect our watershed. The Sacramento River Discovery Center seeks to educate our community, so that we may all be knowledgeable and responsible stewards of our land & our watershed.