Hi Kids,

If you are a Clean Water Rainger you already know what a watershed is, but keep on reading because we can always learn new things about our watershed.

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a waterway.  And what is a waterway?  It could be a roadside ditch, creek, stream, river, lake, or ocean.

A watershed includes not only the waterway itself, but also the entire land area that drains to it.  For example, the watershed of a lake would include not only the streams entering into that lake, but also the land area that drains into those streams.

When it rains or snows, some of the water soaks into the ground.  Water that doesn’t soak in is called “stormwater runoff”.   It flows across parking lots, roads and other surfaces on its way to the nearest waterway.  As the water travels, it can pick up pollutants like oil, fertilizers, pesticides, dog poo, and trash, and carry them into the waterway.

How a Watershed Works

Can you find these things in the illustration?

Table of words

Good Job!  I knew you could!

Different watersheds are made up of different types of land, like forests, or deserts, or mountains.  They can have big cities, little towns, farms or factories.  It all depends on where the watershed is in the world.   No Matter Where You Are, You Are In A Watershed.

If you live in Northwest Arkansas or Northeast Oklahoma, chances are you live in the Illinois River Watershed.  Our watershed encompasses over 1 million acres of land and has over 3,000 miles of streams!  Maybe you’ve visited some of the biggest lakes in our watershed — Lake Fayetteville, Lake Springdale, Lincoln Lake, Lake Wedington, Lake Elmdale, Lake Swepco or Lake Tenkiller. Did you know that all of the lakes in our watershed are man made?


Here are some ways that you can learn more about your watershed and help to preserve and restore it:


Watershed Things To Do




More Watershed Activities:

Nature’s Classroom:  The Water Cycle 


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