We all live in a watershed. Water, be it from rain, snowmelt, or the garden hose, will run off the landscape and drain to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, wetland, or ocean. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. Watersheds do not adhere to political boundaries - they cross national, state, and county lines. The United States has 2,267 watersheds, 81 of which are in Minnesota.
The City of Rochester lies within the Zumbro River watershed, which in turn drains to the Mississippi River, which drains to the Gulf of Mexico. The Zumbro River watershed is more than 900,000 acres in size and reaches parts of six counties. Within this watershed, there are nine smaller watersheds including: Bear Creek, Cascade Creek, Hadley Valley, Kings Run, Mayo Run, River Run, Silver Creek, Willow Creek, and the Zumbro River.
Whenever water runs off the landscape it has the potential to pick up pollutants. While the pollutants coming off a single property may not be great, it is the cumulative effect of all pollutants in the watershed that impacts the receiving waters. The effects of stormwater pollution are seen on watersheds of any size, ranging from creeks in Rochester to the Gulf of Mexico's "Dead Zone."