What is a Watershed

No matter where you live, you live in a watershed. A watershed is the land area that drains to a single body of water such as a lake, wetland, underground aquifer or river. The actions of people who live in a watershed affect the health of the water that drains through it.

Watershed Facts

  • 16 times more stormwater runoff is produced by a one-acre parking lot compared to a one-acre meadow.
  • A single quart of motor oil dumped down a storm sewer creates a two-acre oil slick.
  • 70 million pounds of active pesticide ingredients are applied to lawns in our country each year.
  • On average, 10 pounds of nitrogen are discharged to ground water from a properly operating septic system per person using the system each year.
  • Three billion fecal coliform bacteria are produced by an average sized dog dropping.
  • Over one million acres of land are converted to urban use in the U.S. each year.
  • 27,200 gallons of water fall on a one acre yard during a one inch rainfall.
  • Recent research has discovered that urban stream quality begins to sharply decline once impervious cover in a watershed, such as streets, driveways, sidewalks and rooftops, exceeds 10%.

How Can I Make a Difference

You can make a difference by:

  • Driving less. Walk or bike instead.
  • Conserve water every day: take shorter showers, fix leaks, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Pick up after your dog and dispose of the waste in the toilet or the trash.
  • Don’t pour toxic household chemicals down the drain. Instead, take them to a local hazardous waste collection center.
  • Use surfaces like wood, brick, and gravel for decks, patios, and walkways. They allow rain to soak in, not run off.
  • Test your soil before applying fertilizer – it may not need it!
  • Never pour used oil or antifreeze into the storm drain or the street. Recycle them at your service station.
  • Use hardy plants in your yard that require little or no watering, fertilizers, or pesticides.
  • Adopt your watershed. Learn more at: EPA Watershed Protection Website.

What is the Adopt Your Watershed Campaign

  • Volunteering to monitor water quality
  • Stenciling storm drains
  • Organizing river cleanups
  • Planting trees along eroding riverbanks
  • Hosting a water festival