Wherever you live, you are living in a watershed. A watershed is a term used to describe all the elements in a water drainage system. Watersheds are typically named after the mainstem, or primary waterway within the drainage basin. Allegan County is composed of four main watersheds named after the five respective mainstem rivers – the Kalamazoo River, Black River, Gun River, Rabbit River and the Macatawa River.
Visualizing a watershed
While there is tremendous interconnectivity between watersheds, it is easiest to think of each watershed as its own separate drainage basin. Each watershed boundary is created by the topography of the area. When rain falls within a boundary of a watershed, the rainwater joins other elements of the watershed to become surface water, ground water, or an existing body of water like a river stream or lake. Think of the boundary of the watershed as the walls of a bathtub; all the water that falls into a bathtub will pool there, then flow towards the drain-everything outside of the bathtub will pool elsewhere. All the water that is collected in a watershed will later drain to a larger body of water, like Lake Michigan.
Why is watershed management important?
The water in your local watershed provides the water you drink, water crops with, swim in, and rely on. Preserving water is in the best interest of all life on earth. It is also important to realize that all forms of waste - whether it be the trash on the side of the road, the excess fertilizer from farms, or oil spills from our automobiles and farm equipment – all ends up in our watersheds. Have you noticed how rivers and streams will turn brown after a heavy rainfall or snowmelt? This chocolate-y water is due to sediment from poorly managed soils that erodes into our watersheds. Every landowner and farmer has the responsibility to protect the soil against erosion, and keep their land free of hazardous debris, and resilient against erosion.
Photo courtesy of Lake County Stormwater Management Commission
Map design by Ellie Anne Art
What can you do to protect local watersheds?
Learn how water moves through a watershed in the video to the right!
Work with NRCS to create a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan to reduce runoff of fertilizers from your farm.
Contact the Allegan Conservation District for participate in our grant-funded projects.
Make sure you are disposing of waste in proper receptacles.
Gather a group of friends to collect trash alongside roads, trails, rivers, and beaches. Check our Events Page for upcoming cleanup events!
Clear debris (leaves, trash, sediment, etc.) away from storm drains in your neighborhood.
Consider using alternatives to salt when trying to melt winter ice on sidewalks.
What is Allegan Conservation District doing to protect watersheds?
Allegan Conservation District, and many members of Allegan County believe protecting our watersheds by decreasing sediment and nutrient runoff should be a priority. There are many opportunities for farmers to join us in implementing conservation practices. See below for more information on how you can participate in any of the following projects.