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What is a watershed?
It’s kind of like a Zip code. Or a school attendance zone. Or a neighborhood.

A watershed is an area of land that drains to the same place. Everyone lives in a watershed. And our watershed can be affected by our individual actions.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s watersheds are named for the largest creek or lakeshore. In each watershed, all of the rainfall and runoff flows into that creek or lake. 

kitchen sink  ​ Watersheds are sometimes called “basins.” A basin is like a kitchen sink. In a sink or in a watershed, all of the water drains to the same place. 

If you have two kitchen sinks side by side, water in each sink goes down a separate drain. Likewise, the water in side-by-side watersheds flows to separate creeks.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg has more than 80 named creeks. Those creeks are grouped into 22 creek watersheds and four lake watersheds.

Did you know? 

        • Not all Charlotte-Mecklenburg creeks flow to the south. Some flow to the west. Some even flow to the northeast! 
        • Ridges are the areas of higher elevation that create the border of each watershed. 
        • The names of some local creeks date back to the mid 1700s.

What’s your watershed?
Use the interactive GeoPortal. Type your address in the Search box. Under "What do you want to know," look for the Environment heading, then click "Water."   

Learn about Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s creek and lakeshore watersheds

Catawba River Watershed
Lake Norman
Upper Mountain Island Lake
McDowell Creek
Gar Creek
Lower Mountain Island-Upper Wylie
Long Creek 
Paw Creek 
Lake Wylie-Beaver Dam Creek
Steele Creek
Irwin-Stewart Creeks
“Big” Sugar Creek
Upper Little Sugar Creek
Lower Little Sugar Creek
Briar Creek
McMullen Creek
McAlpine-Clem Creek
Four Mile Creek
Six Mile-Twelve Mile Creeks
Yadkin-PeeDee River Watershed
Rocky River West Branch
Clarke Creek
Mallard Creek
Back Creek
Reedy-McKee-Caldwell Creeks 
Clear Creek
Goose Creek
Crooked Creek
Mecklenburg County watersheds map 


Why do watersheds matter?

River watersheds in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and in North Carolina