Watershed Management


Read about our Watershed Management research projects.

Find a Watershed Management expert.

Watersheds are an important hydrologic unit for understanding natural and ecologic functions, and for understanding how human activities affect them. Watersheds supply ecosystem services such as drinking water, water for agriculture and industry, habitats for terrestrial and aquatic species, and recreational opportunities for rural and urban communities.

The impacts of human activities on watersheds, however, are increasingly threatening their ability to produce sufficient quantities of clean water necessary to promote human health and economic prosperity. Investigating the biophysical linkages between watershed components — between groundwater and surface water, water quantity and water quality, terrestrial and aquatic systems — is critical for scientific discovery, and for the design of effective management responses that address drivers of change, while balancing competing water demands with human aspirations and ecosystem health.

  • characterizing interconnected surface and groundwater systems
  • developing coupled surface and subsurface hydrologic models at mixed spatial and temporal scales
  • understanding physical processes in oceans, lakes, and wetlands and their effects on biogeochemical processes
  • assessing the effects of human activity and multiple stressors (eutrophication, acidification, climate change, river regulation, urbanization, species invasions) on watershed hydrology, water quality, biogeochemical processes, and aquatic systems
  • advancing the understanding of the fluxes and transformations of nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, silicon) and metals at the groundwater-surface water interface
  • defining wetland and lake ecological functions and stressors
  • developing “smart” watershed data integration platforms to monitor conditions in real-time
  • developing improved techniques for the prediction, remediation and prevention of groundwater contamination
  • designing cost-effective ecological restoration and conservation activities
  • identifying and assessing, including economically, water policy and governance arrangements, including integrated land-water management and drinking water source protection planning