Institute for Water Resources

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Value to the Nation

Environment: Watersheds

Graphic showing a watershed. Click for full size picture
Image of a watershed

In recent years, the Corps has moved toward a watershed approach to water resources management. This approach integrates understanding and consideration of aquatic resource interactions with planning, development, and management actions across broad regions. A watershed is an area of land within which all surface waters flow to a single point. It encompasses the area necessary to adequately analyze and manage related land and water resources. Watersheds may be as small as a few acres or larger than several states.

The watershed approach is exemplified by work taking place on the Des Plaines River, which starts in southeast Wisconsin and flows south into northeast Illinois. The river has a long history of flooding that has caused significant economic losses. Working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders the Corps is helping identify options to reduce flood damages on the river and its tributaries while also addressing environmental restoration and protection, water quality, recreation and related issues.

Learn more about recent Corps environmental activities that use a watershed approach.