Watershed Definition , features , Classification and importance

 What is Watershed ?

When we look at the tree from top to bottom, we will found that all the branches of tree meet at at single point near the ground. The same concept is applied to define the watershed. 

Image source : https://www.dep.pa.gov/


If we search for watershed meaning than we can say that watershed is also nomenclature as drainage basin, catchment or drainage area. So watershed is  refers to the area drained by a stream in such a way that all flow originating in that area is discharged through a single outlet.

Watershed is a divide, which separates one watershed from other. In other words, watershed is the area, which is drained by a stream or a system of connecting streams in such a way that all stream flow originated in the area is drained through a single outlet.

Watershed features

 Every characteristics of  our earth has some features. Similarly a watershed has some features like Size of watershed, drainage divide, topography and soil type which differentiate one watershed area to another.

Size of watershed: Watershed size varies from micro to very large.

Drainage divide : It is also called as watershed boundary. It plays very singificant role to divide the waterflow from the area.

Topography: It refers to the terrain of the land withing watershed boundary. Topography directly affect the soil erosion in the area.

Soil type : Type of soil is a important feature of watershed as it affect the watershed behavior. A watershed area with sandy soil absorbs huge amount of rainwater from rain events. and Watershed area with clay soil or rocky soil produce runoff with very high rate due to very less infiltration.

Watershed Definition
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Classification of watershed 

A watershed area can be classified based upon size, drainage , shape of area and land use pattern.

Watershed classification based on size 

Based upon the size of watershed area, watershed can be classified from mini watershed to region.




Watershed Classification based on shape 

Hydrologically, the shape of watershed is very important because it controls the time for the runoff to concentrate at outlet.  
Based upon the shape,  watershed area can be classified as Fan shape and Fern shape.

Watershed classification Based on soil 

Soil is an important factor that define the watershed characteristics and watershed management activities.
Based upon soil type watershed can be classified as Red soil watershed and Black soil watershed.

Watershed Classification Based on slope of Land 

Slope of land affect the runoff, erosion and ground water recharge in watershed area. Based upon slope of land, watershed is classified as hilly watershed and flate watershed.

Watershed Classification based on climate 

Change in climatic conditions results in variation in hydrological cycle. Based upon climate , watershed can be classified as Humind watershed and Arid watershed.

Watershed Classification based on land use pattern 

Based upon the land use pattern, watershed can be classified as highland watersheds, tribal settlement watershed and settled cultivation watershed.

Importance of Watershed 

When we move from one location to another, the geographical features of the area also change. As we have discussed about the features of watershed , change in the feature also result in the change of watershed behavior. 

Watershed behavior may be in term of hydrological i.e. rainfall, runoff, sediment yield etc, crop yield or in socio-economical aspects. 

Basically watershed helps to serve water in different regions for drinking, irrigation, recreation, sanitation and industrial activities.  

All the water bodies i.e.rivers, lakes and ponds get the water due to watershed through streams.

Watershed is important for every area because it serve water for plants and animals. 

Without watershed , it is very hard to make wide distribution of water in the area. So watershed helps to distribute water in every corner of the watershed area.


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