America's ever-increasing population and the growing complexity of our society are making it increasingly challenging for USACE and other groups to balance the many competing demands on our nation's water resources. Today, solving a problem in one location may well create problems in a nearby area. To address this concern USACE and others have adopted a watershed approach to addressing water resource issues.
Image of a watershed
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 water and land resources. Watersheds may be as small as a few acres or larger than several states. Typically, a watershed includes lakes, the river(s) and tributaries that feed into the lakes, and adjacent wetlands and coastal areas.
By using a watershed approach USACE and others are working to evaluate the impact changes in one area will have elsewhere in the watershed in order to achieve the best overall balance. One of the keys to this approach is to involve as many stakeholders as possible in the planning process. Managing resources through a watershed approach promotes collaboration, facilitates greater balance among competing water uses and ensures the restoration and protection of the environment.
USACE's long-range strategic plan calls for a continuing effort to better understand and implement integrated strategies that cut across programs, regions, and agencies and enable us to most effectively utilize our nation's abundant water resources and protect them for future generations.