What is a watershed?

Information courtesy of the NH LAKES Watershed Warrior program.

What is a watershed? 

A watershed is an area of land that drains (or ‘sheds’) its water (rain, snowmelt, groundwater) from its highest points to its lowest points. A watershed is like a funnel. Most of the water that falls within a watershed will eventually reach its lowest point (the outlet) and flow into another watershed. The ultimate outlet is the ocean!watershed

Everyone lives, works, goes to school, and plays in a watershed! What you do in your watershed determines how healthy your lakes, rivers, and oceans are. Healthy watersheds recycle and clean fresh water, over and over again, through the water cycle.

New Hampshire is home to 8 major watersheds. What’s your watershed address?

DID YOU KNOW?nhwatersheds

80% of the water quality problems in the lakes and rivers of New Hampshire are caused by stormwater runoff and wastewater pollutants.

Stormwater runoff is when water flows over the land surface downhill to the nearest stream, river, lake, or pond. Stormwater runoff travels across farm fields, forestland, parking lots, highways, city streets, and backyards, picking up pollutants along the way and carrying them to the nearest waterbody.

Improper management of lawns, eroding gullies and shorelines, malfunctioning septic systems, and runoff water from urban and agricultural land allows higher concentrations of pollutants, including nutrients and sediments, to find their way into rivers and lakes than would naturally occur. Increased nutrient loading can cause algae blooms and excessive aquatic plant growth, thus greatly accelerating the natural lake aging process, as well as polluting them with harmful substances.

To learn more about how to take Lake-Friendly actions to protect your lake, click here to download a copy of “New Hampshire Lakes and  YOU! A guide to clean, healthy, and safe lakes.” available from the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

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