Do you know your watershed?

Do you know your shed?

Fast Facts: About Columbia’s  Watersheds

  • The City of Columbia, Missouri has 15 watersheds located just within our city limits.
  • The largest watershed is the Hinkson Creek watershed.
  • The Hinkson drains roughly 88.5 square miles of land, all in Boone County. Hinkson Creek itself is 26 miles long, originating east of Hallsville and traveling southwest through the city to join Perche Creek in southwest Columbia.
  • Several large tributaries spill into Hinkson Creek within the Columbia area. Grindstone Creek and Hominy Branch originate from the east, Flat Branch and County House Branch drain the interior of Columbia, and Meredith Branch and Mill Creek drain the western portion of Columbia.

Hinkson Creek

Interactive Watershed Maps for Columbia, Missouri

Find your watershed by home address… PRETTY COOL!!!

  1. Type in your home address,
  2. Then scoll down the left hand side bar of the page to view your watershed.
  3. See your Major, Secondary and Immediate Watersheds. See where your rain water goes… and who it impacts!

Find your watershed by your home address

map of mid-MO watersheds

Other Watershed Maps and Information:

Live in BOCOMO? Know Your Shed

Boone County, Missouri Watershed MapsBonne Femme Subwatershed Map

Select ‘Columbia, MO‘ from the list to get you started. This interactive mapping tool allows you to view aerial photos, topographic maps, floodplains, and many more features. Click the link to start your journey! Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems website 


Anatomy of a Stream. Everyone lives in a watershed!

 The anatomy of a stream is a complex subject which affects the entire community now and in the future. Learn more from local experts.



Understanding the hydrologic (water) cycle is critical to understanding the concept of the watershed. Without the water cycle, watersheds would cease to exist. It is the water cycle at work that gives us, here in Columbia, the seemingly endless supply of water we enjoy.

rain cycle diagram

Although three-quarters of the Earth is covered by water, the percentage of freshwater that is available for everyday human use is very small. Clean freshwater is even more scarce. While both salt water and freshwater are essential parts of the water cycle, the freshwater that most of us use in our daily lives makes up less than 1% of all the water on the planet. Because the “same” water is recycled year after year, contamination or overuse of this valuable resource can create both short- and long-term problems. Protection and conservation, on the other hand, may help maintain a supply suitable for plants, wildlife, and human uses. Understanding how water evaporates, collects, flows and circulates is the first step in this protection effort.


In a nutshell…. Watershed refers to the land over and through which water flows to reach a common water body. It has two components – surface drainage and groundwater drainage. An underground drainage area is sometimes called a groundwatershed. Just as surface water flows over the surface of the land in response to gravity, groundwater flows through permeable soils and fractures in bedrock in response to gravity. Groundwater, however, flows much more slowly. A surface watershed divide is the set of points separating one watershed from another. Surface watershed divides are usually mountains and high points of land. Groundwatershed divides separate groundwatersheds from each other. Surface watershed divides may be in different places than groundwatershed divides.

ground layers

The water follows gravity and the contours of the landscape. A watershed is identified by the name of the water body that serves as the collecting basin for that drainage are. All land is a part of some watershed! Not only do streams and rivers flow to a collecting basin, but so too do the impacts that humans have upon those waterbodies. Human activities that impact the quality of the river water flowing into a basin also impact the basin itself.


Watersheds sustain life, in more ways than one.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than $450 billion in foods, fiber, manufactured goods and tourism depend on clean, healthy watersheds. That is why proper watershed protection is necessary  to you and your community.  Watershed protection is a means of protecting a lake, river, or stream by managing the entire watershed that drains into it. Clean, healthy watersheds depend on an informed public to make the right decisions when it comes to the environment and actions made by the community.

Hinkson Clean Sweep


Earth is covered in 70% water and unfortunately 40-50% of our nation’s waters are impaired or threatened.  “Impaired” means that the water body does not support one or more of its intended uses. This could mean that the water is not suitable to drink, swim in or to consume the fish that was caught there.

The leading causes of pollution in our waterways are sediments, bacteria (such as E. coli) and excess nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus).  Although nutrients sound like things that belong in a healthy environment, they can cause big problems in a poorly managed watershed. For instance, sediment can suffocate fish by clogging their gills and the presence of bacteria alone can indicate that other viruses and germs can be found in the water as well. Erosion, Littering and not picking up your pets waste are just a few ways these pollutants reach our waters.

Hinkson Clean Sweep


The EPAopens in a new window offers their tips on how you can help keep your watershed clean and healthy.  

  • Conserve water every day. Take shorter showers, fix leaks & turn off the water when not in use. 
  • Don’t pour toxic household chemicals down the drain; take them to a hazardous waste center.
  • Use native plants that require little or no watering, fertilizers or pesticides in your yard.
  • Do not over apply fertilizers. Consider using organic or slow release fertilizers instead.
  • Recycle yard waste in a compost pile & use a mulching mower.
  • Use surfaces like wood, brick or gravel for decks & walkways; allows rain to soak in & not run off.
  • Never pour used oil or antifreeze into the storm drain or the street.
  • Pick up after your dog, and dispose of the waste in the trash.
  • Drive less—walk or bike; many pollutants in our waters come from car exhaust and car leaks.
  • Learn more about volunteer programs


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