- Jodi Eberhardt
What is a Watershed?
It doesn’t matter if you live on the shores of a lake or not, your actions can have an
impact on water quality because we all live in the watershed of a lake, and our collective
actions on the land near the shore and within the watershed will determine the future
quality of our waters.
A watershed is the area of land that drains to a particular waterbody.
Think of a watershed as a funnel with a glass at the bottom representing a lake.
Anything that falls into the funnel will find its way in to the glass at the bottom. Now think
about what happens when it rains or snow melts. Some of the water evaporates back
into the atmosphere, some of it soaks down into the ground to replenish groundwater,
and the rest runs off the land as stormwater. How we use the land within the watershed
affects the types of sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants that can be picked up with
stormwater and eventually washed into the lake. Runoff from parking lots, highways,
streets, parks, lawns, farms and feedlots, forests, and wetlands all impact water quality.
The bottom line is—everyone lives in a watershed and we’re all interconnected by
A healthy lake depends on a healthy watershed. A healthy lake doesn’t just happen. It
comes about when shoreline property owners and others living in the watershed take
steps to ensure the lake’s ecological health.