What’s a Watershed?

Did you know that regardless of where you live, you live in a watershed? A watershed is an area of land that water flows across as it moves toward a common body of water, such as a stream, river, lake or coast. Watersheds are defined by the way water flows across the land and are shaped by features and elevations on the surface of the land.

The Hillsborough River watershed covers more than 675 square miles, encompassing the greater Tampa Bay area. The northern and central portions of the watershed are generally rural and include public conservation lands, pastures and agriculture, while the southern portions are mainly urban and industrial. The southern portion includes the City of Tampa, which is the region’s largest city in size and population.

Land and Water

Everything we do on land can affect the health of our water. That’s because land and water share an intimate connection. As rainwater drains to the lowest point in a watershed, it carries pollutants and contaminants with it. This means human actions within the Hillsborough River watershed may impact the river, its adjacent lands and ultimately, Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest open-water estuary.

Because the Hillsborough River is the City of Tampa’s primary source of drinking water, the actions of people in the Hillsborough River watershed also affect the quality of drinking water for those in the city.

Cows in Water