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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Watershed 2 Characteristics
and Google Earth Files

When characterizing a watershed, it is important to consider landscape analysis goals and objectives. For example, farmers, civil engineers, conservationists, or hunters among other stakeholders each have specific watershed assessment needs. Following are some data maps to assist with understanding the ability of the landscape to catch and retain water. Each map can be applied toward multiple stakeholder goals and objectives. You will need Google Earth to view the maps.

We define watershed as the area of land where surface water flows toward a single outlet, and it is based on elevation information. Watershed 2 is the largest watershed mapped between Bismarck and Minot, ND. Please click here and here to view the reaches of two smaller watersheds within watershed 2, and how they affect this particular property.

Potential Catchment Basin Volume. This refers to the maximum amount of water that a catchment basin can hold before spilling over into the next basin. This is a potential amount of water that can be held within depressions when there is no seepage or percolation into the ground. View potential catchment basin volumes for the areas around the property cited above. These are colored according to their relative water retention potential:

       Red LOW
  Yellow        MED LOW
  Green MED HIGH

Data for the entire watershed maybe downloaded in Google Earth, but due to the large size of the files, it may take up to 10 minutes or more depending on your internet connection speed. Further information can be obtained from Rebecca Phillips at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab, USDA-ARS Mandan.

Potential Surface Water Area: Catchment Basin Volume Ratio. This is the ratio of the potential surface water area within a basin to the potential catchment basin volume (see above). A high ratio would indicate the basin area is large but the basin is not deep. This characteristic is shown in Google Earth here. These basins are categorized according to their relative depth profile:

       Red SHALLOW

The entire watershed 2 ratios can be viewed with much slower download time.

Watershed Drainage Lines. These show the streams that drain the watershed. A quick view of the drainage lines around the private property discussed above is shown here, with the sub-watersheds draining into and out of the confines of the property boundaries. The drainage lines for the whole watershed 2 area are bulky and take longer to download and view in Google Earth. White lines show the headwater streams flowing to progressively larger streams ultimately contributing to the single outlet per watershed.

Last Modified: 4/18/2013
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