What is a watershed?

A watershed is a basin-like landform defined by highpoints and ridgelines that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water “shed” from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea. John Wesley Powell, a prominent 19th century geologist and explorer, put it best when he defined a watershed as “that area of land…within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course & where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Chautauqua is located in the Eastern Divide or Eastern Continental Divide. This Eastern Divide separates the Gulf of Mexico drainage from the watersheds that flow directly into the Atlantic Ocean.

Principal Sub-Watersheds In Chautauqua County

1. Brokenstraw Creek 8. French Creek
2. Canadaway Creek 9. Lower Conewango Creek
3. Cassadaga Creek 10. Silver Creek
4. Cattaraugus Creek 11. Stillwater Creek
5. Chautauqua Creek 12. Twentymile Creek
6. Chautauqua Lake 13. North East Creek
7. Conewango Creek

Why is your watershed important?

We all live in a watershed. Watersheds are the places we call home, where we work and where we play. Everyone relies on water and other natural resources to exist. What you and others do on the land impacts the quality and quantity of water and our other natural resources.

Healthy watersheds are vital for a healthy environment and economy. Our watersheds provide water for human consumption and industrial use. Many people also enjoy lakes and streams for their beauty and for boating, fishing and swimming. Plants and animals also need healthy watersheds for food and shelter.

Managing the water and other natural resources is an effective and efficient way to sustain the local economy and environmental health.

Scientists and leaders now recognize the best way to protect the vital natural resources is to understand and manage them on a watershed basis. Everything that is done in a watershed affects the watershed’s system.