Do you know your watershed?

    Do you know your shed?The City of Columbia, Missouri has 15 watersheds located within the 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 your home address

    (Find your watershed by address. See your Major, Secondary and Immediate Watersheds.Type in your address, then scoll down the left hand side bar of the page to view your watershed. )

    map of mid-MO watersheds

    Other Maps and Information:

    Boone County, Missouri – Bonne Femme Subwatershed Map

    Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems website, select ‘Columbia’ from the list to get you started. An interactive mapping tool that allows you to view aerial photos, topographic maps, floodplains, and many more features.


    Video – 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.


    How a Watershed Works

    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.


    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.


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