Did you know that we all live in a watershed? No matter where you live, work or play, you are in a watershed! You might be surprised to know that watersheds are more than just water.

“A watershed is an area of land that water flows across or through on its way to a particular water body, such as a stream, river, wetland or coast.” 

Think of it as the land upon which rain (precipitation) falls and flows to a common, watery place.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They can be very large, or so small that they only encompass a small stream or wetland area. They cross counties, provinces and national boundaries. They can be “open systems” — those that eventually drain into an ocean or “closed systems” — where water can only escape through evaporation or by seeping into the earth.

Why are watersheds important?

Watersheds provide:

  • Important habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife
  • People and animals with fresh drinking water
  • Support to industries
  • Key recreational sites (‘river limes’)

Trees and other vegetation around the watershed also have the significant roles of slowing runoff, protecting land from erosion, reducing water temperatures and can even act as filters and clean water.

Pollutants within watersheds can harm the environment, wildlife and habitat. Pollutants can also negatively impact the economy and jobs, and degrade the health and wellness of humans.

Under the Adopt a River programme, communities are training in water quality testing in order that they learn about the health and status of their rivers and watersheds. For more information on this, please check out our Water Warriors page.