What is a Watershed?

A watershed is a geographic area of land that rain or snow melt flows through on its way to one specific body of water such as, a stream,  river, lake, or wetland. Watersheds are separated by high points in the topography; hills, slopes, ridges and mountain ranges. Watersheds are named after the body of water that they drain into, for instance the Saw Mill Run Watershed is the land area which drains into the Saw Mill Run stream. Another interesting thing about watersheds; they are connected like the branches of a tree. Smaller watersheds drain into larger watersheds called basins. For instance, the Saw Mill Run Watershed drains into the Ohio River Watershed, which drains into the Mississippi River Watershed, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico. These water bodies supply our drinking water, water for agriculture and manufacturing, offer opportunities for recreation  and provide habitat to numerous plants and animals. What happens on the land impacts the quality of the water in the stream. The statement “We all live downstream” is true for most of us, unless we live on a mountain top! Everyone lives in a watershed.