A watershed is an area of any kind of land that drains to the same location or body of water. Watersheds funnel rainfall and snowmelt to groundwater, creeks, streams, and rivers, and then on to larger bodies of water such as reservoirs and oceans. Everyone lives in a watershed!
A watershed can be a small or a large area. The largest watershed in the United States is the Mississippi River Watershed, which drains 1.15 million square miles from 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.
Watersheds have different levels of classification. You can find your watershed through the Indiana Department of Envrionmental Management (IDEM) HUC finder.
The importance of caring for our watersheds
Protecting our waterways is important for us now and for future generations both on a global and a local scale. Most of the water on earth is not available to us or not suitable for human consumption. We use water for food, for our businesses, our pets, and our ecosystems depend on it.
As water flows along the surface of the earth it picks up particles. If these particles are pollutants they can be transported along the watershed impacting the plants and animals living there and ultimately reaching the drinking water reservoir or ocean where it ends up.
Not all water flows on the surface. Rain and snow can soak into the ground and reach underground water reservoirs called aquifers. Even then pollution on both the surface and underground impacts our water supply.
Fortunately, there are many organizations and communities active in watershed management and conservation. The Marion County Wellfield Education Corporation’s outreach to businesses and the public to protect our wellfields is an important piece of protecting the overall health of watersheds. Whether you are a home or business, always stay attentive limiting your use of chemicals and dispose of hazardous waste properly!