What is a Watershed?

Watersheds are the areas of land that drain from the highest spot to the lowest spot. Think of a watershed as a large sink or bathtub – all of the water that goes into the sink or tub, eventually goes down into the drain, or to the lowest point of the sink or tub. That low point is also where the water that falls on the ground is absorbed as groundwater.

All the water that falls on land is vital to life because it supports habitats and provides water for all organisms to survive.

Watersheds function to collect necessary water, however they pick up pollutants along the way.

Where do pollutants come from?

Humans, through their day to day activities, constantly pollute watersheds.

Pollutants from fertilizers, pesticides, roadways and pets and construction activity are picked up by water and carried as runoff to local watersheds. In addition, because water is a solvent, it can dissolve substances in the air and carry them as pollutants to streams or rivers or infiltrate the ground and become part of the groundwater.

Rivers obtain their water from two sources, groundwater and runoff.

Human activities, such as cutting down trees, urbanizing natural habitat areas, mining and other construction activities accelerate erosion. Accelerated man-made erosion can contribute more sediment to streams than can be deposited naturally over several decades. For example, sediment runoff rates from construction sites are typically 10-20 times greater than those of agricultural lands, and 1,000 to 2,000 times greater than those of forest lands.

All of these pollutants are picked up by the water and carried as runoff.

More Information on Water Pollutants

Why is Watershed Management necessary?

It is cheaper to clean up our own yards/areas than to pay for a major cleanup of large lakes, streams or the oceans they flow into.

The City of Lincoln must abide by permits and guidelines issued by both the State and the Federal Government regarding stormwater. Annual reporting, inspection and overall maintenance of our stormwater infrastructure are required by the City.

We use education, ordinances, and better management practices to not only reduce pollution, but hopefully prevent it from happening in the first place.

We need your help to keep our streams clean and preserve our drinking water quality not only for ourselves but for future generations to come.