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Watershed Management

Image of a watershed. Water flows downhill across parking lots, farms, and yards into reservoirs including ground water aquifers. 

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land in which all of the water that enters it, drains into a common waterbody. Also known as a drainage basin, it can be thought of as a "funnel" that collects surface water and ground water and drains it into a single stream, lake, ocean, or other reservoir. Hills and ridges usually separate one watershed from the next.

Why are watersheds important?

Humans, plants, and animals need clean water to survive, and the activities in a watershed determine the health of its water. Florida's multi-billion dollar tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing industries rely on clean water. Vegetation in a healthy watershed can filter pollutants, reduce erosion, and prevent flash flooding during storms. Urban development and other human activities can impact water quality. Because water flows freely across state and political boundaries, it is important to focus management plans on entire basins instead of single towns or tributaries.

How are watersheds protected?

Florida's Watershed Restoration Framework was created to embrace this holistic, ecosystem-based approach and to integrate Florida's longstanding water protection programs into more effective, comprehensive action. The program specifically carries out provisions of the Florida Watershed Restoration Act (section 403.067 of the Florida Statutes), as well as other legal authorities, volunteer networks, public education, and financial assistance to clean up water pollution or prevent it in the first place.

Which water resources are addressed?

Rivers, streams, lakes, canals, and ground water systems are monitored by the Watershed Management Program. Springs, coastal systems, and drinking water are protected under separate programs.

Where is my watershed?

Florida has 29 major watersheds, as seen on the map below.

Map of Florida's Watershed Basins

Restoration Framework

Water Quality Standards

Watershed Monitoring


Watershed Assessment

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program

Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs)

Ground Water Protection

Nonpoint Source Management

NPDES Stormwater

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Watershed Management

TMDL Water Quality Restoration Grants

Watershed Network Newsletter

Learn More About Watershed Management

Related Watershed Links

Pollutant Trading Policy Advisory Committee (PTPAC)

Surface Water Improvement and Management Program (SWIM)

Information on the mechanics of implementing Florida's watershed program, including the statewide 5-year cycle of activities, is available from Basin 411, the Basin Rotation Website. This site includes a link to a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool that allows detailed views of Florida's watersheds.

Last updated: May 24, 2016

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