A watershed is an area of land where all precipitation and streams drain to a single point. Watersheds can be extremely large, draining water from numerous states, or can be divided into smaller subwatersheds that cover only a few square miles. In the Front Range of Colorado most of our water originates as snow high up in the Rocky Mountains. Some of this water will be diverted and stored for drinking water, agriculture and other uses rather than traveling downstream, but our streams and return flows all come together to a single point where our watershed ends and becomes part of a bigger watershed.
The Boulder St. Vrain watershed covers most of Boulder County, several towns in Weld County, and small portions of a few other counties. Since water doesn’t flow according to political boundaries, it’s important for all of us to work together to protect our watershed.
Everyone lives in a watershed. It may be hard to see if you do not live near a waterway, but water is moving through streams, ditches, and underground pipes through our communities. As water travels downstream it is impacted by human activities as it passes through cities, towns, and farms.
How the communities upstream from you treat the water will impact your water use, and how you treat your water will impact the communities downstream from you. Trash and polluted stormwater runoff from your neighborhood will end up in the stream people downstream from you use to fish and swim.
A healthy community starts with a healthy watershed. We all depend on our watersheds for clean drinking water, productive farms, thriving aquatic life, and safe places to swim, fish, and paddle. We need to keep our waterways clean for our community – and the communities who live downstream from us.
Stormwater pollution occurs when rain or snow melt flows over streets and picks up trash, oil, dirt, and other pollutants as it travels. These pollutants are then carried through the storm drainage system, which drains directly into our local creeks and streams untreated. The stormwater system differs from the wastewater system, which carries water from indoor drains in our homes, offices, and buildings, to wastewater treatment plants.