Watershed Groups

Watershed Group Photo


Many citizens who care about their creek, streams, or rivers combine their powers to form watershed groups. The groups are usually volunteer-driven nonprofit organizations. They represent the interest of the community and the environment with a mission, goals, and a plan for implementing water quality improvement projects, enhancing habitat, developing recreational activities and informing their neighbors of the importance of watershed protection. Not every group does the same thing, however. Common activities of the groups include trash clean-ups, citizen science to understand water quality, working with local, state, and federal government to make sure environmental laws are enforced, and organizing events and trips so their neighbors can learn about and enjoy their waterway.

Two important resources for watershed groups are listed below:

West Virginia Watershed Network

West Virginia Watershed Network Logo

The West Virginia Watershed Network (WVWN) is composed of nonprofits as well as state and federal agencies who support the work of watershed groups to unify their communities and protect, restore, celebrate, and educate about their watersheds. To learn more about the support offered to watershed groups and to sign up for the quarterly newsletter, WaterNet, visit the WVWN website.

Watershed Improvement Branch

West Virginia Watershed Network Logo

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Improvement Branch (WIB) offers both financial and technical assistance for watershed groups. Check out WIB's Calendar for a list of upcoming events, training, and more. For information on how to form your own watershed group, contact your local Watershed Basin Coordinator.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the land area that drains to a common waterway. Rivers, lakes, estuaries, wetlands, streams, and oceans receive water from the land adjacent to them. Groundwater aquifers are replenished by water flowing through the land area above them. Simply put, watersheds are drainage basins.

One way to visualize a watershed is to think of it as a leaf. The edge of the leaf is the watershed boundary, and the veins represent its streams and creeks. The central vein of the leaf that widens to the stem is the main stream, usually a river, that carries water downstream to a larger river or a terminus such a lake, bay, or ocean.

Watersheds are comprised of a number of streams and creeks that drain into progressively larger streams to eventually form a river. Each of the streams or creeks have their own watersheds, or sub-basins, that flow from higher elevations to lower elevations.

Watersheds include surface and groundwater - both flow together into the main stream of the watershed. A ridge of high ground forms the watershed divide. Precipitation and snowmelt on one side of the divide will drain into one watershed, while runoff on the other side drains into a different watershed.

What is a Watershed Infographic
What is a Watershed?


There are over 40 watershed groups located across the state of West Virginia. Groups often form as a result of a water quality issue or a desire to preserve and protect their local watershed. The group’s locations, watershed boundaries, basin coordinator, and more can be viewed on the WV Watershed Partnership Information Hub.


Support for Watershed Groups

The implementation of water quality improvement projects in West Virginia is a coordinated effort of state, federal, and local government working in cooperation with citizen groups and other NGOs who are passionate about environmental issues and dedicated to improving the quality of life within their watershed. WVDEP coordinates these efforts through the Division of Water and Waste Management, Nonpoint Source Program, 106 and Stream Partners.

Additional Support and Resources

  • West Virginia Conservation Agency

    The West Virginia Conservation Agency aims to provide for and promote the protection and conservation of West Virginia's soil, land, water and related resources for the health, safety and general welfare of the state's citizens.

  • Project Teams

Organizing Watershed Partnerships

Organizing a Watershed Partnership is a document for stakeholder who want to build a local partnership with watershed protection goals in mind. It is designed to provide general guidelines for the process of building voluntary partnerships, developing a management plan, and implementing that plan. Because each watershed is unique, there will be sections that do not apply to your particular situation.


  • Organizing a Watershed Partnership

    The majority of the information contained in this document was obtained from the Know Your Watershed and the Center for Watershed Protection. The information on organizing a clean-up was obtained through the Keep America Beautiful organization.

Watershed Group Videos

Currents is a celebration of the dozens of watershed groups that help protect, preserve and restore West Virginia's waterways, told in their own words. It premiered at the WV Rivers Film Festival in Morgantown on October 22, 2015. Currents is a production of the WVDEP, and was produced and directed by Michael Huff.

Additional Watershed Videos

Videos from select groups are below. Most videos have a run-time between two to five minutes.


Protecting the environment is not something that the DEP does alone. It takes a collective effort. It takes all of us working together.

Contact Us

Watershed Improvement Branch
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
601 57th Street SE
Charleston, WV 25304
Phone: (304) 926-0440
Email: Contact Us