Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 19, 2004
Publication Date: October 20, 2004
Citation: Tomer, M.D. 2004. Watershed management. In: Hillel, D., editor. Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment. Amsterdam: Elsevier, Ltd. 4:306-315.
Watershed management may be defined as a set of resource-management practices that are planned and implemented to provide a sufficient source of quality water to sustain human society and natural ecosystems. The practice of watershed management is interdisciplinary, because it recognizes linkages between land and water resources, and because it seeks to balance the needs of society with the capacities of natural resources to meet them. Land use practices have impacts on hydrologic processes and water quality. Identifying ways to manage these impacts across a mosaic of soils, terrain, and land use settings is a key challenge in watershed management. Effective watershed management is an iterative process of assessment, planning, and implementation. It begins with an assessment of current land use practices and their impacts on water resources. Opportunities to improve land management, considering roles of soil, vegetation, and terrain, are then identified and prioritized. Stakeholder groups should be included in planning. This informs citizens about water resource management issues, and provides feedback to ensure recommendations are realistic as well as effective. A range of computerized tools is available to assist with assessing watersheds and alternative management scenarios. Implementation should include a commitment to periodically re-assess water resource management and develop opportunities for further improvement.