College of Science

Department of Applied Environmental Science

The Watershed Institute consists of a direct action, community-based coalition of researchers, restoration ecologists, educators, planners, students, and volunteers. These participants all work to promote and employ a systems approach to the management of watersheds around the world.

What is a watershed?

A watershed encompasses the forest, uplands, agricultural lands, streams, wetlands, roadways, and other areas delivering water into a drainage, and their living communities.

A healthy watershed:

  • Prevents topsoil loss
  • Provides habitats for wildlife and natural communities
  • Filters toxic pollutants originating from cities and farms
  • Recharges aquifers
  • Reduces saltwater intrusion into aquifers
  • Controls flooding
  • Supports agricultural production
  • Creates "greenbelts" in residential areas, which can also act as fire breaks.
Arroyo Seco 2001

Watershed Institute restorationists, researchers, and educators are currently working in watersheds around the world to apply a watershed systems management approach. The implementation of an ecosystem management approach is either mandated or supported by lead organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board. The Watershed Institute has already implemented some of these agencies' goals to convert the Monterey Bay region from a microcosm of watershed problems to a model for positive action.