A watershed is a distinct area of land that drains to a stream, creek, river, lake or estuary. Every piece of land in Harford County ultimately drains into the Chesapeake Bay, but the water can travel through many different streams before reaching the Bay.
This is why it is important to be mindful of our actions; pollution anywhere within the watershed has the potential to affect all waterbodies downstream.
Watersheds come in many different shapes and sizes. A river basin is generally a large watershed, whereas subwatersheds are smaller delineations determined by the stream of interest. These terms are frequently used interchangeably. Watersheds are named for the streams they drain into.
Harford County contains four major river basins - the Bush River Basin, the Gunpowder River Basin, the Lower Susquehanna River Basin, and the Upper Western Shore Basin, which all drain to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These larger watersheds are made up of many smaller watersheds.
Everyone lives in a watershed. How we use the land (farms, houses, businesses, industry), what covers the land (lawns, crops, forests, pavement), and our land use habits (use of pesticides and fertilizers, disposal of toxic wastes, garbage disposal, clean up of animal wastes) all affect water quality within the watershed.