Watershed 101

A watershed can be defined as the area of land in which all of the water within the boundary drains into the same place such as a stream, lake, or a wetland. Watersheds are classified into drainage areas and basins of different shapes and sizes. Unlike state borders, watersheds do not necessarily adhere to strict political boundaries. This calls for cooperation between diverse groups and organizations that share a vested interest in the health and quality of their watershed.

Watersheds are named or described by a sequence of numbers, these numerical values or hydrologic unit codes (HUCs) identify a specific watershed or subwatershed area. They are commonly depicted as 8 digit, 10-digit, and 12-digit HUCs, with larger digit HUCs representing smaller hierarchal elements and therefore smaller relative areas.

A watershed is an ecosystem and we all live in one. What happens near the headwaters directly impacts the downstream areas within that watershed. Human, ecological and economic health all rely heavily on the overall functionality and condition of their respective watershed.

CSO Photo

Courtesy of Arkansas Watershed Advisory Groups

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