A watershed is the area of land that drains to a particular body of water. Watershed boundaries are determined by elevation differences across land masses. Everyone lives in a watershed, no matter how far their home is from a body of water.
Human activity has greatly altered watersheds in Southwest Florida. Sarasota Bay once received relatively little fresh water, but after large-scale drainage projects to prepare land for agriculture and development, much of the fresh water that once percolated into ground water supplies is now delivered, through tributaries and overland runoff, to Sarasota Bay.
Next time it rains, watch the water run off your driveway. Do you know where it goes after it hits the street? Storm drains carry water to the nearest waterbody. For those of us who live near Sarasota Bay, water flows directly from storm drains into Sarasota Bay. Water from inland neighborhoods usually flows into a tributary before reaching the Bay. You can use the map below to find out the path of the raindrops that run from your driveway to the street.
Remember that stormwater carries more than rain. It picks up oil, trash, fertilizer, and other things in its path, bringing them to Sarasota Bay. Keeping the Bay clean means taking care of its watershed.