What is a watershed? Why is what we do on land crucial to clean water?

A watershed includes all of the life-sustaining connections and interconnection that provide us with clean, usable water. The most fundamental of these connections is the mutual relationship between land and water.  Every land area drains into a water source which means land activities are inextricably tied to the health and quality of our water supply. Also known as a “drainage basin” or “catchment” – a watershed is the area of land that drains into a river, wetland, or creek from the land surrounding it. The land in every watershed is drained by creeks and streams- each with its own small watershed – land draining to it. Collectively, the waters merge into the larger watershed of a river. Small or large, all watersheds share similarities in form and function, and each watershed is ecologically unique.

The connection between water and land connect human beings’ activities to the health of our water resources. Animals and plant life all impact their immediate environment, but the fluid, mobile nature of water introduces the complexity of movement. The impacts of these activities include the introduction of pollutants and sediment literally carried by surface and underground flow to the next lowest point on and on until discharging into bigger rivers and ultimately, the ocean.

Be a WATERSHED WARRIOR!! Take the pledge to reduce your impact and improve the health of your watershed.


Watershed Projects and Resources:

Check out Watershed Cairns to see art connect with water! Cairns are stacks of rocks used to demarcate trails. These beautiful glass sculptures are displayed in places of significance to watershed functioning in outdoor locations in Illinois and Missouri. The locations denote areas where land collects water – places that conduct water to creeks, streams, and rivers to ultimately arrive in the Mississippi River. The Cairns are photographed and removed due to their fragility. See the Watershed Cairns website here.

The Our Missouri Waters Initiative is a Missouri Department of Natural Resources effort to engage citizens and sound science to develop watershed-specific strategies to collaborate on common goals to address challenges in each basin.

MCE’s involvement in the Kiefer Creek Watershed began in 2009 when dogs were becoming ill after coming in contact with the creek in Castlewood State Park. Thus began the Kiefer Creek Watershed Restroation Project. The long term project engaged local watershed residents in the development of a watershed management plan to address bacteria (E. coli) and chloride pollution impairing the water supply.


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