What is a Watershed?

The province of Ontario requires the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) to manage the Niagara Peninsula watershed. This complex watershed includes land and watercourses throughout the entire Niagara Region, parts of the City of Hamilton, and parts of Haldimand County. It primarily consists of the Niagara River, the Welland River, the Welland Canal, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario.

A watershed is the total area of land that drains into a stream, river or lake. To understand what a watershed is, think of a bathtub. The top rim of the tub could be the hilltop, the sides are the slopes, the bottom is the valley, and the drain represents the lake. Anything poured inside the tub ends up down the drain. The water poured closest to the drain gets there first, but all of the water eventually reaches the same destination.

When snow melts or when it rains the layout of the land around you determines how quickly the water runs. Some rainwater seeps into the ground and becomes groundwater, some evaporates, and the rest runs downhill into our wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes.

One place that clearly demonstrates how water moves across land is on a parking lot. Next time it rains, notice how the water appears to move in sheets down to the sewer drain or low spot. That sheet is the runoff of a small segment of the watershed.

Everything done in a watershed affects the water quality within it. The NPCA manages our watershed to help keep people and property safe from flooding and to help minimize risks from other naturally occurring situations. This, and other mandated programs, also helps to keep our drinking water safe.

Have any questions regarding the NPCA or the Niagara peninsula watershed? Please contact us at info@npca.ca.

For the 2018 Watershed Report Card, please visit: https://npca.ca/watershed-report-cards. 

Check out our latest video which will help you understand our watershed!