Skip to Content

About the Watershed

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land that drains to a common river or lake. In a watershed, we are all connected to our local waterways. Because the activities on land can affect the quality of streams and lakes, we all play a role in helping to reduce runoff that can pollute our waters.

A diagram of a watershed. Source: Iowa DNR

A diagram of a watershed. Source: Iowa DNR

The Cedar River Watershed

The Cedar River watershed covers 5,020,914 acres (7,485 square miles), beginning in southern Minnesota near Austin and continuing southeastward to the Cedar River’s outlet at the Iowa River near Columbus Junction. The watershed includes Mason City, Charles City, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Cedar Rapids. The larger Cedar River watershed can be divided into six smaller units (8-digit HUCs):

  • Lower Cedar
  • Middle Cedar
  • Upper Cedar
  • West Fork Cedar
  • Shell Rock
  • Winnebago

Each HUC-8 watershed can be further subdivided into subwatersheds (12-digit HUCs). There are 224 HUC-12 watersheds that make up the entire Cedar River basin.



The Cedar River, together with the Iowa River, forms a major tributary to the Mississippi River.

Do you know which watershed you live in? 



Last modified on June 8th, 2015
Posted on April 29th, 2014