Learn About Utah's Water Bodies

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the land area from which surface water drains into a common stream channel, lake, reservoir, or other body of water. Two major watersheds exist in the state of Utah, the Great Basin and the Upper Colorado. Large watersheds are often called basins and contain many small watersheds nested within them for managment purposes. Understanding how different bodies of water interact with each other is the first step in learning how to protect them.

bridge with water   Rivers and streams transport runoff to or away from larger bodies of water and help to introduce oxygen into the watershed.​

road   Utah has around 82,000 miles of streams and rivers​.

mountain with sun   The Colorado River is the longest river in Utah, flowing for about 1,400 miles within the state's border​.

     exclamation point        Some big threats to Utah's streams and rivers are droughts caused by climate change and contamination from polluted stormwater.​
storm cloud over waves   Lakes collect water from precipitation, seepage from groundwater, and discharge from streams and rivers.

water bottle   Lakes and reservoirs are common sources of drinking water.

ladder in water   Utah has 1.5 million acres of lake water, 1.1 million of which are contained in the Great Salt Lake.

fish   Utah's lakes are home to approximately 30 species of fish.

filter   The roots in wetland systems naturally filter pollutants from the water​.

flooded house   Wetlands slow the momentum of flood waters​.

earth   Utah has 1,200,000 acres of wetlands, accounting for 1% of Utah's land cover​.

otter   Utah's wetlands are home to many types of animals including ducks, geese, beavers, and mink.​

Watershed Map

Use the map below to identify Utah's major watershed basins.