Fall 1999: Watershed

A watershed is the land area from which rainfall drains to a specific stream or waterbody. Large watersheds are often referred to as river basins and are named after the river the land area drains to, such as the Connecticut River basin. The watershed of Long Island Sound includes the drainage areas of multiple river basins, such as the Connecticut, Housatonic, and Thames. Extending through New England and, at the headwaters of the Connecticut River, right into Canada, the Long Island Sound watershed covers 16,000 square miles and also includes portions of New York City, Westchester County and Long Island. Eight million people live in the watershed, with millions more within 15 miles of its shoreline.

All the activities within the watershed cumulatively affect the quality of adjacent and downstream waters and, ultimately, Long Island Sound. As a result, watersheds are used to organize water management efforts. Watershed management is the process of involving local communities and individuals from the watershed as key partners in the effort. Collectively, watershed stakeholders assess conditions and identify problems, set goals, develop actions plans, and implement improvements.

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