Watershed Management Authority

What is a Watershed?

Definition: The region draining into a river, river system, or other body of water.

John Wesley Powell, a famous geologist and an explorer of the American West, said a watershed is: “that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."

Ecology of a Watershed: The study of watersheds as ecosystems, primarily the analysis of interacting biotic and abiotic components within a watershed’s boundaries.

Aquifers: An underground bed or layer of permeable rock, sediment, or soil that yields water

Ecosystem: A functioning natural unit with interacting biotic and abiotic components in a system whose boundaries are determined by the cycles and flux of energy, materials and organisms. It is valid to describe different ecosystems with different, overlapping sets of boundaries in the same geographic area (e.g. forest ecosystems, watershed ecosystems and wetland ecosystems). A watershed is just one of many types of ecosystems.

CatfishCreek Watershed: The Catfish Creek Watershed is a 46,300 acre (HUC 10 - #0706000501) watershed consisting of the City of Dubuque, the City of Asbury, and the City of Peosta. Distinguishable features include: industrial centers, cropland, steep bluffs, sedimentary rock outcrops, and dense forests.  The landscape transition from rolling agricultural land to cropped ridges and bluffs, surrounded by steep, forested slopes, encompasses nearly one half of the City of Dubuque.  Catfish Creek flows eastward, beginning near the City of Peosta, and enters the Mississippi river on the south side of the City of Dubuque, in the Mines of Spain State Park. There are five sub-watersheds (or HUC 12’s) within the Catfish Creek Watershed.  These include: the North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork, Granger Creek, and the main stem of Catfish Creek. 

Along with the urban area the stream encompasses, the creek meanders through the three significant natural resources within the watershed, Swiss Valley Park, the Swiss Valley Nature Preserve, and the Mines of Spain State Park.  These areas are managed by both the Dubuque County Conservation Board and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and attract over 380,000 users per year.  According to DNR’s 305(d) report, a portion of the creek within the park and preserve is classified as a Class B (CW) stream.  This section of stream is classified as cold-water and has naturally reproducing trout (one of only 30 streams in Iowa with this capability).  The recreational activities in the Catfish Creek watershed are abundant.

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