What is a watershed?
A watershed is all the land area that drains to a specific water resource, such as a lake or stream. Watersheds range in size from a few square miles to an entire continent. As rainwater and melting snow run downhill, they carry sediment and other materials into streams, lakes, and groundwater. Watersheds provide water for drinking, irrigation, streams, and activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating. In addition, watersheds also provide food and shelter for wildlife.
What is a watershed district?
Watershed districts are special purpose local units of government with taxing and limited regulatory authority. Water does not follow political boundaries; therefore the boundaries of a district follow the natural boundary of a watershed. A district is responsible for managing the water resources within its watershed.
What does a watershed district do? (Adapted from: Doug Thomas, BWSR)
• Control or alleviate damage from flood waters
• Regulate the flow of streams and conserve the streams’ water
• Control or alleviate soil erosion and siltation of watercourses or water basins
• Regulate improvements by riparian property owners of the beds, banks, and shores of lakes, streams, and wetlands for preservation and beneficial public use
• Protect or enhance the water quality in watercourses or water basins; and
• Provide for the protection of groundwater and regulate its use to preserve it for beneficial purposes
How are watershed districts governed?
- Appointed board of managers (3-9)
- Not a public officer, except SWCD supervisor
- Voting resident of the District
- Serve a 3 year term, no term limits, unless restricted by the county