Watershed Plans

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 8
Current (2016): 19

Theme Green


Number of watersheds with a plan or active organization

Why is it Important?

Everyone lives in a watershed. A watershed is the area of land where runoff drains to a particular stream, river, wetland, or other body of water. There are nine major watersheds in the St. Louis region that drain to major rivers such as the Mississippi, Missouri, Meramec, or Kaskaskia Rivers, and many smaller watersheds located within those that drain to smaller creeks and streams. Healthy watersheds are necessary for protecting water quality. Watershed plans focus on improving water quality by identifying pollutants and developing strategies to control pollutants. Sources of pollution that may be addressed by watershed plans include urban runoff, agricultural runoff, construction runoff, and erosion. This indicator measures the number of watershed plans or active organizations that promote the health of a watershed in the St. Louis region.1

How are we Doing?

The number of watersheds with a plan or active organization increased from eight in the baseline year 2010 to 19 in 2015 and no new plans in 2016. Currently, 41.4 percent of the land in the St. Louis region is covered by a plan or organization with some portions of the region covered by more than one plan or organization. However, much of that area is covered by plans or organizations that span a wide area and do not provide as much detailed analysis or guidance as plans that address smaller watersheds.The first three watershed plans or watershed-based organizations in the St. Louis region included the Dardenne Creek Wetlands and Watershed Protection and Restoration Plan, the Kaskaskia River Watershed Plan, and the River des Peres Watershed Coalition. 


Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.


1Watersheds are identified using Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) delineated by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) based on where surface water drains. There are six levels of hydrologic units. Each unit is identified by a unique HUC, which consists of two to twelve digits depending on which of the six levels is being defined. Each point in the landscape is located within multiple nested watersheds (one for each of the six levels), ranging from sub-watersheds up to subregions and regions.  In the St. Louis region, watershed plans and organizations sometimes use the HUC system to delineate a watershed for their work but some plans and organizations consider other factors to draw the boundary for their work. Therefore, this indictor relies on each plan or organization’s watershed delineation to determine the number of watersheds addressed. Some of the watersheds counted in the indicator overlap or are nested within each other. To provide a fuller picture of the extent of watershed planning in the region, statistics on overall coverage of the region’s land with watershed plans or organizations is also provided.