A watershed is the area of land that contributes water to a particular surface water drainage system such as a stream or river. All land is a part of some watershed. The Southern Region encompasses watersheds that drain areas receiving widely varying amounts of rainfall. Arid regions of New Mexico and Texas may receive only about 10 inches of rain each year, while Mississippi, Alabama, and Kentucky receive 55-60 inches each year.
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC) that uses an increasing number of digits to designate increasingly smaller components of the system.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 charged the responsible agencies within the states with designating the beneficial uses of the waterbodies in their states and determining whether the waterbodies serve their beneficial uses. Waterbodies not able to perform their beneficial uses are considered impaired and states must develop plans (called Total Maximum Daily Loads, or TMDLs) for improving the condition of those waterbodies. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant that can be released into a waterbody without causing the waterbody to become unable to serve its beneficial use. Because the condition of a waterbody depends on how its water has been used upstream, it makes sense for hydrological, social, political, and ecological reasons to manage water resources and develop TMDLs on a watershed basis.
Conditions in Your Watershed
Most people do not know the name of their watershed. EPA maintains a website that allows you to search for your watershed using your county name, zip code, or city name. The search will return the 8-digit HUC that represents your local watershed. Clicking on the HUC number will link you to an Environmental Profile that includes maps, TMDLs and impaired waterbodies, restoration efforts, toxic releases and Superfund sites, and links to USGS water data for your watershed. You also can link directly to this information by clicking on a county in your state map on this website.
Designated Use Information by State is also available for most of the states in the Southern Region. TMDL information is available for the region comprised of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee and for the region comprised of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. State information on TMDLs is available on an EPA website and also may be accessed through the state agency or agencies authorized to develop TMDLs for your state. Consult your state's watershed management page on this website for links to your state's TMDL programs.
Resources and Programs
Some examples of major resources and programs provided by Land Grant Universities in the Southern Region are listed below. For more information in a specific state, click on that state here or on the homepage.
Each of the Land Grant Universities in the Southern Region includes an Extension program designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Extension education interprets research results from colleges and universities and other sources throughout the world and delivers it to the end user, who is often a homeowner, business owner or agricultural producer. Some examples of major Extension education programs addressing watershed management issues in the Southern Region include the NIFA Southern Region Watershed Academy and:
Watershed Science, Policy, Planning and Management: Can We Make It Work in Florida?
Ky*A*Syst for Home
Master Farmer Program
Scientific research is the basis for development of new technologies to improve watershed management. Researchers at Land Grant Universities work to develop these new technologies and evaluate their economic benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Current Research Information System (CRIS) provides access to reports on watershed management research supported by USDA and conducted at research centers or Land Grant Universities. Some examples of major research efforts in the Southern Region include:
Dog River Watershed Project
Suwannee River Partnership
- North Carolina:
North Carolina Watershed Management Projects
- South Carolina:
Grasslands Watershed Management
Assessing Water Quality Impacts of Nutrient Imports into an Urban Gradient
College and University Education
Degree programs and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in watershed management are available at Land Grant Colleges and Universities throughout the Southern Region. Some key examples include:
Crop and Soil Sciences Degree Program
Natural Resources & Environmental Management Degree Program
- North Carolina:
Natural Resources - Soil & Water Systems Degree Program
- New Mexico:
Range Science Degree Program
Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Science