What is a watershed?
A watershed is the surrounding land area that drains into a lake, stream, or river. It includes natural and artificial drainage systems, such as ditches and storm sewers. Even if your home is not next to a lake, stream, or river, you still live in a watershed. Every water body has a watershed that surrounds it. Each of us lives in a watershed and shares its water quality.
How do watersheds affect water quality?
If we pollute the watersheds surrounding a lake, stream, or river, we're directly affecting the water quality in that lake, stream, or river. Everything we do in a watershed, from caring for our lawns and gardens, to picking up our leaves, affects the local water body. Caring for your watershed is caring for your local lake and stream.
What watershed do I live in?
To answer this question we need to first look at several scales of watersheds:
Small minor watersheds are grouped together to form major watersheds.
Faribault County is located within two major watersheds, the Blue Earth River Watershed and the Le Sueur River Watershed. These watersheds together with the Watonwan River Watershed form the Greater Blue Earth River Basin.
A basin is simply a grouping of major watersheds. The Greater Blue Earth River Basin accounts for nearly half of the flow of the Minnesoat River at Mankato and has a total drainage area of 3,486 square miles. The two major tributaries (Le Sueur & Watonwan River) are almost as large as the Blue Earth itself, making the watershed composed of three major stream systems.
The Minnesota River Basin drains nearly 20 percent of Minnesota, encompasses 15,000 square miles, and contains all or parts of 38 counties in Minnesota. The Minnesota River Basin is divided into 12 major watersheds, three of which are the Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Watonwan River Watersheds (Greater Blue Earth River Basin).
The Minnesota River then drains into the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. The Minnesota River Basin is part of the larger Mississippi River Basin which drains 40 percent of the continental United States.
For additional information on watersheds click on the following links:
Minnesota River Basin Overview - basin facts, watersheds, watersheds across scales, river profile, MN River virtual tour
MPCA - Greater Blue Earth River Basin
DNR - Watersheds