Our Watershed

Where does our water come from, and where does it go?

Get a sense of where your community's river or lake is in Minnesota's water system! Take a look at a state or regional map that includes your local river or lake. Trace the path of the water before it gets to your town and after it leaves. Then, draw or highlight a map that shows how your water fits into your bigger watershed.

Where does our waterway fit within a watershed?

What is a watershed? If a shed is a place to store things, then the simplest definition of a watershed is a place that stores water. To be more specific, a watershed is an area of land that channels rainfall and snowmelt through a network of interconnecting creeks, streams, and rivers that eventually merge and flow together into larger bodies of water. It describes where water is stored (hence the name "watershed") for a particular river.

Figure this out! Your watershed is defined by your community's river. Where are all the rivers or streams that flow into your river? These waterways define the watershed for your river.

Each small watershed is part of a larger watershed for a larger river. Minnesota has eight major watersheds including the Minnesota River Basin down south, the Rainy River Basin up north, and the St. Croix River Basin in the east.

Now figure this out! The river near you is part of a larger watershed. What is the source of your river? What type of landscape does it flow through? What larger river does yours flow into? What other rivers also flow into that larger river? You are beginning to uncover answers about your watershed.


Does Minnesota really have 10,000 lakes,
like the nickname says?

"The Land of 10,000 Lakes" is a low estimate. Minnesota is actually graced with 28,176 different lakes, ponds, and wetlands around the state, and they are connected to 34,167 miles of rivers and streams. It goes without saying that Minnesota is a land rich with water resources! These tens of thousands of freshwater sources create ecosystems with habitats (homes) for a huge diversity of plants and animals.