Our Watersheds

Introduction to Watersheds of Orange County, California

What is a Watershed?

"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 the community." John Wesley Powell

A watershed is the geographic area draining into a river system, ocean or other body of water through a single outlet and includes the receiving waters. Watersheds are usually bordered and separated from other watersheds, by mountain ridges or other naturally elevated areas.

In Orange County, there are 11 watersheds. We've provided a page specifically about the coast as well. In this section you'll find reports, studies, grants, projects, and regulations specific to each watershed. A variety of maps are also available displaying drains, waterways and land elevations; city boundaries; and land use. For committees and public forums that meet on specific topics, you'll find meeting notices and agendas. You may subscribe for a particular meeting and receive email notification of meetings.

No Matter Where You Live … You Live in a Watershed. The eleven watersheds in Orange County are grouped into three Watershed Management Areas, as illustrated in the interactive map below.

Click the image below for a base map of Orange County Flood Control District drainage facilities:

Flood Base Map