Where does your storm water runoff go? Water runs downhill. A watershed is the area that drains water to a single point. At the smallest level, your yard may be a watershed that drains to the street. The street collects many yard watersheds and drains to a stream. The stream receives water from many street watersheds and drains to a river. The river receives water from many stream watersheds and drains to another river, lake or the ocean.
The City of Bartlett has 18 small watersheds flowing into streams and creeks that contribute their waters to two major watersheds, bisecting the City in an east to west direction with the north watershed flowing to the Loosahatchie River and the south watershed flowing to the Wolf River. Combined, the City's watersheds drain an area of over 32 square miles with over 70 miles of waterways designated as waters of the state and more than 200 miles of drain pipe, swales and ditches. Take a look at the City of Bartlett watershed map (PDF) and see where your watershed is and where your runoff is going.
The Bigger Picture
Both the Loosahatchie and Wolf Rivers drain to the Mississippi River, where they add to waters contributed from other watersheds comprising the Mississippi River watershed, which includes all or parts of 31 states and 2 Canadian Provinces. The Mississippi River watershed measures approximately 1.2 million square miles, covering about 40% of the lower 48 states. That water eventually reaches the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. So, in a real sense, even though you may live hundreds of miles away, your storm water runoff is collected as part of the Atlantic Ocean watershed!