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What is a watershed?

A lake's watershed is the area of surrounding land that channels rainfall and snowmelt via creeks, streams, rivers, ditches, storm drains and groundwater to the lake. Watersheds supply the water that replenishes our lakes, along with other elements critical to supporting life, such as nutrients and organic matter. Water moves through a never-ending loop from sky to land and back in various states of gas, liquid or solid through a process known as the water cycle.

Undeveloped watersheds, such as the on pictured above, help keep lakes and rivers clean by absorbing rainfall and keeping excess nutrients, such as phosphorus, out of the water.


We all live in a watershed. The health of lakes is determined by what happens in their surrounding watersheds.

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