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A watershed describes an area of land where surface water from rain converges to a single point at a lower elevation. Watersheds fed by rainwater converges into increasingly larger conveyances, starting as sheet flow across the land, often conveyed in roadway ditches to small tributary streams, then into larger streams and rivers. Watersheds may exhibit a steep landscape, like the dramatic landscapes we have in western Travis County where rainfall runoff, seeps, and springs eroded narrow, rocky canyons. Watersheds in eastern Travis County are characterized by broad floodplains.

Travis County is almost totally within the watershed of the Colorado River. The Colorado River watershed comprises 39,900 square miles, originating in Dawson County near the New Mexico border in the High Plains. Travis County’s water resources include not only the Colorado River, aquifers, springs, and lakes, but also the creeks, streams, and storm water drainage channels that flow to them. The rain and runoff collect into tributaries of the Colorado watershed, including the Pedernales River Barton Creek, Onion Creek, Williamson Creek, Big Sandy Creek, Cow Creek, Gilleland Creek, Walnut Creek, Wilbarger Creek, and other waterways that converge into the Colorado River as they flow towards the Texas Coastal Plain and to our neighbors to the east.

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The EQ Program of Travis County implements storm water management requirements that seek to keep the quality of water flowing from our watersheds as unspoiled as possible. We also participate in efforts to restore our impaired, polluted watersheds and enhance the beneficial uses of our streams, rivers, and reservoirs.

The ecological, economic, and recreational importance of the Colorado River and its watershed is immeasurable. The Colorado River provides water for agricultural irrigation, public water supplies, and electricity production. Increasingly, the river, and many others in the state, both provide water supply to communities and the river receives treated wastewater effluent and irrigation return flows from communities along its path.