Did you know that you are in a watershed right now? A watershed is any area from which water above and below ground drains to a specific stream, river, lake, bay, or ocean. All of the water that flows over or through a watershed ends up in the body of water it drains to, including whatever this water may pick up along its way.
Watershed map .gif Repurposed from the Rockingham County, NC website
When it rains, all of the water drains to one body of water. It falls on land and travels to a stream and eventually a river that empties into a lake or ocean. Water also soaks into the ground to add to groundwater and underground rivers. This graphic shows the process of water entering the watershed.
The watershed boundary is defined by the dividing line of highest elevation surrounding a given stream or network of streams. Rainwater falling outside the boundary will flow into an adjacent watershed and another receiving water body.
Watersheds can be small or large, and smaller watersheds can combine to make a much larger watershed. Montgomery County is in the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed which means all of the water that comes through, or is from here, goes to the Chesapeake Bay. We also have parts of the Potomac River watershed and the Patuxent River watershed located within our county. Our area is further divided into 8 major watersheds within Montgomery County.
Our Local Watersheds
No matter where you are, you are in a watershed.
A watershed is all the land and all the water that drains over or moves under that land to one point.
Watersheds can be very small, like the one for the stream that may flow through your backyard or the local park. These small streams join together to form larger and larger waterways with larger and larger drainage areas like the Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi River watersheds.
Montgomery County has over 1,500 miles of streams in the county. Pretty impressive! Some of these streams and watersheds are healthy while others are not. DEP determines stream health by the organisms that live in those streams.
How the land and streams are cared for upstream has a significant impact not only to our local environment but to the ecosystem downstream as well. Remember, We all live downstream!
Want to know exactly which watershed you live in and its health or which watershed you are sitting in at this very moment? Use the Interactive watershed map below.
Find Your Watershed Map
View larger map
County WatershedsMontgomery County is made up of eight major watersheds and almost 150 smaller watersheds. The map above shows streams, tributaries, lakes, and other water features within Montgomery County as well as their health and condition.
Click on any colored area to determine the most recent stream conditions of that area. If you’d like to determine your “watershed address”, simply type in a street address to see the watershed name and a short description.
All county watersheds are monitored according to a defined schedule at least once every five years. The types and health of fish species and stream bugs (also called benthic macroinvertebrates) provide a snapshot of the health of the watershed. Click the "View Larger Map" link below the map to view it in full screen.
If you’d like to learn more about our County watersheds view the list below. You will learn their location within the County, more about their biological condition and physical features and other interesting facts.
How Do Watersheds Affect Us?
Healthy watersheds offer many valuable functions and are essential for appreciating the local natural environment.
By protecting our watersheds and preventing pollution, we help secure our quality of life and reduce the costs of government cleanup programs. Also, keeping our local waters clean helps protect the water supply and habitat for people and animals that live downstream, allowing them to experience the same benefits.
In a healthy watershed, there are: