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What is a Watershed?

We restore, educate and advocate for the Gills Creek Watershed.

What is a watershed? A watershed is a "precipitation collector" --an area of land that drains all the rainfall and small streams into a common outlet such as the point where a river joins a bay, or a creek joins a river. Watersheds can be small, like the Gills Creek Watershed, or huge--think of the area of our country that ultimately drains into the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River. No matter where you live, you're in a watershed. The City of Columbia tracks information about the Broad, Congaree, Lower Saluda and Gills Creek--all major watersheds within City limits. For details about Gills Creek, click here.

Facts about the Gills Creek Watershed:

  • The headwaters start above Sesquicentennial State Park and flow into the Congaree River below Columbia and just above the Congaree National Park.
  • It is represented by multiple jurisdictions including the City of Columbia, Richland County, Forest Acres, Arcadia Lakes, Fort Jackson, and the City of Cayce, which annexed the former "Green Diamond" property.
  • It contains over 115 miles of streams.
  • It covers over 47,000 acres of land.
  • The population is approximately 140,000.
  • Land use/land cover in the watershed includes approximately: 51.0% urban land, 25.1% forested land, 13.4% agricultural land, 8.1% forested wetland (swamp), 2.1% water, and 0.3% nonforested wetland (marsh).
  • It is among the largest urban impaired watersheds in South Carolina.
  • Urbanization and development have caused, and continue to cause, negative impacts to water quality, including excessive stormwater runoff and sedimentation.
  • We are all impacting the health of the watershed regardless of where we live within it.

712 Main St
EWS 617
Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Phone (803) 727-8326

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