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Watersheds and Water Supply

Watersheds and Water Supply
Every living thing depends on water to survive. Watersheds are the source of all the water we use. All of the land that drains to a particular body of water – a stream, river, lake, wetland, or playa – is that water body’s “watershed.” A healthy watershed acts like a sponge, absorbing, storing, and slowly releasing water.
The watershed collects rain and snowmelt, and delivers it to that body of water. Some of it is intercepted and used by trees and other vegetation. Some flows overland in streams and rivers. Some soaks into the soil, which filters the water as it travels downward to be stored in underground aquifers. It may re-emerge at a spring or seep, or it can remain underground for a period of time ranging from days to thousands of years.
The plants and soil, and the microbes that live in them, do much of the work in a watershed. In forests and floodplains, farms and prairies, arroyos and wetlands, they work behind the scenes to filter, store and produce clean water. Taking care of the soil and vegetation enhances their ability to do those jobs.
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