Healthy Watersheds

Our approach to addressing water issues involves examining all the problems and opportunities within a watershed.

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land where all the water drains into a common water body, such as a creek. Think of it like a bathtub – when a drop of water hits anywhere in the tub, it eventually finds its way to the drain (the lowest point). The rim of the bathtub is like the watershed’s boundary. Any drop falling inside will eventually reach the main drain – a creek, river, or lake.

Everyone lives in a watershed, and all of our watersheds are connected. What happens in one part of the watershed affects the other parts. For example, if debris blocks a creek in the downstream portion of the watershed, the water may not flow or drain away as quickly as usual from the upstream part – causing sustained flooding. Likewise, pollutants flowing into the water upstream will be deposited in creeks, lakes, and groundwater downstream.

All the watersheds in southwestern Illinois eventually flow into the Mississippi River – a significant source of drinking water, transportation, commerce, recreation, and wildlife habitat. Healthy watersheds are not only good for the people living in them, but they contribute to a healthier and resilient Mississippi River.


Why manage projects by watershed? 

HLC’s Water Program focuses on southern Illinois waters by watershed because it is the most efficient way to evaluate, protect, and improve the water quality of all of the water in our area. Each watershed is analyzed on how it is specifically affecting the overall quality of water and flooding impacts on communities in southern Illinois. Comprehensive watershed plans are developed to identify and address these specific issues. These watershed plans can then be used by residents and governments in the watershed to improve the area they live in.

Watershed Initiatives

Choose a Watershed from the map to learn more.