In simple terms, a watershed is the area of land that catches rain and snow that drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater.  Landforms such as hills or heights of land largely determine the boundaries of watersheds and direct the speed and path of its rivers.

In the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority jurisdiction, there are 20 subwatersheds. Separated by a watershed divide, they flow into one of two larger watersheds:   Mattawa River watershed which flows east into the Ottawa River Basin and the Lake Nipissing watershed which flows west into Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes basin.  Each subwatershed has a unique mixture of land and water habitats:  from wetlands, rivers and lakes to forests, grasslands, farms, towns and cities. 

All living things depend upon the continuous cycling of water and nutrients through ecosystems. The effects of forestry, agriculture, industry and urbanization are all recorded in the water as it flows along its path. For better or worse, each tributary stream, wetland or spring which joins together reflects the health of the region in which it is found.

Watersheds also provide a diverse array of natural services and benefits to society and to the economy from atmospheric gas and climate regulation to recreation and drinking water.  

Watershed Managers

In its role as watershed managers, NBMCA uses a suite of administrative and regulatory "tools" under the Conservation Authorities Act as well as delegated tools under other legislation to meet watershed management obligations.  These "tools" allow NBMCA to deliver a broad range of programs through which it "manages" the watershed.    The programs NBMCA delivers to achieve this are featured throughout this website. 

NBMCA's 2015 Integrated Watershed Management Strategy (IWMS) lays a 20-year roadmap for the management of the 20 subwatersheds.  Learn more about the IWMS here.

In addition to NBMCA's permitting, regulating and municipal plan review efforts, highlighted under Planning & Permits section of the website, NBMCA undertakes watershed management through monitoring, flood forecasting, research, studies, management plans and drinking water source protection.   These all contribute to building our water and land resources' resiliency to climate change.