Watershed Management

What is a watershed?
A watershed is simply the geographic area through which water flows across the land and drains into a common body of water, whether a stream, river, lake, or ocean. The watershed boundary will more or less follow the highest ridgeline around the stream channels and meet at the bottom or lowest point of the land where water flows out of the watershed, the mouth of the waterway.

Much of the water comes from rainfall and stormwater runoff. The quality and quantity of stormwater is affected by all the alterations to the land--mining, agriculture, roadways, urban development, and the activities of people within a watershed. Watersheds are usually separated from other watersheds by naturally elevated areas.

Why are watersheds important?
Watersheds are important because the surface water features and stormwater runoff within a watershed ultimately drain to other bodies of water. It is essential to consider these downstream impacts when developing and implementing water quality protection and restoration actions. Everything upstream ends up downstream. We need to remember that we all live downstream and that our everyday activities can affect downstream waters.

Watershed Management
Management of the environment has been primarily focussed on specific issues such as air, land, and water. Most efforts have resulted in decreasing pollutant emissions to air and water, improved landfills, remediation of waste sites and contaminated groundwater, protection of rare and endangered species, design of best management practices to control water and contaminant runoff, and much more.

What is still a continuing problem for our waters are nonpoint source pollution and habitat degradation. These are the problems that are responsible for most of the water quality use impairments throughout. These are typically complex problems that are difficult to manage. Both nonpoint pollution and habitat degradation generally cross program purviews. To establish a method to tackle these remaining problems managements must come together to better understand the interactions between the environmental components and the actions that can be taken by all towards the goal of ecosystem integrity.
small watershed groupings map West Virginia has over 9,000 streams covering 32,000 stream miles. To better manage the state’s streams, the State is divided into 32 major hydrologic regions, or watersheds.

Click here for a larger Hydrologic Grouping Map

Following are links to additional information related to watershed management
Watershed Monitoring
Impaired Streams
Total Maximum Daily Loads
Water Quality Monitoring
Watershed Branch Standard Operating Procedures
Water Quantity/Water Use
Watershed Cycle Map
Nonpoint Source Program
Water Quality Standards