Talk:Drainage basin

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utopic projekt[edit]

The Atlantic drains into the Mediterinian because there is more evapuration in comparisson to what is comming into it throug rivers and rainfall. Therefor is also running water from the Atlantic into the Mediterinian. Ther was once an utopic projekt for hydropower between the Atlantic and the Mediterinian.

double definition[edit]

Is the double definition of "watershed" currently appearing here -- basin / catchment area AND dividing-line between basins / catchment areas -- really tenable? (The latter definition is the one I was taught at school.) To use both in one article is, surely, asking for trouble. Would be much obliged if any professional geographers/hydrographers cared to comment. -- Picapica 21:29, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

Not a professional hydrographer etc., but I'm more familiar with the latter definition too. I'm tempted to move this article over to water basin. —Ashley Y 01:13, 2004 Jun 25 (UTC)

My Canadian Oxford gives both definitions, and in fact it is the "dividing line" definition that is new to me. I've always heard the word used as in "we're in the Saint Lawrence watershed" or "Rupert's Land occupied the watershed of Hudson Bay." - Montréalais 04:12, 25 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Current usage is watershed for the drainage area feeding a water body. With watershed divide referring to the topographically high region separating watersheds. As you drive through the Rockies you see a sign that announces Continental Divide - not Continental Watershed. --Vsmith 15:37, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Language changes over time. If you have ever heard the usage "it was a watershed moment," you can infer the original meaning of the word watershed. I will quote a passage from Collier's New Encyclopedia published in 1921:
"The series of convergent slopes down which a river system flows—the land which it drains—forming its basin or catchment area, and the name watershed is also sometimes erroneously applied to it. The names watershed, waterparting, and divide are used to designate the boundary line separating adjacent basins."
Mike 05:34, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)

"water basin" is unambiguous, isn't it? Perhaps we should move it for that. —Ashley Y 06:24, 2004 Nov 13 (UTC)

I repeat: current usage - by earth science professionals - is watershed for the drainage area feeding a water body. A simple Google search will verify this. The following is a quote from EPA website:

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:
"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 a community."

Do your own searching, you might learn something about current usage. I am a geologist and an educator. If you move it to water basin, I will move it right back. -Vsmith 14:24, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Basin is an unambiguous term. Your usage of watershed only applies to US English (all the quotes in the OED for that meaning are from American publications) and looks confusing to other English speakers. Furthermore, the order of definitions in the OED may indicate which one is principal: the first definition given is "The line separating the waters flowing into different rivers or river basins; a narrow elevated tract of ground between two drainage areas", for which it offers "water-parting" as an alternative (although this sounds like a too literal translation of the French "ligne de partage des eaux" to me), whilst "The whole gathering ground of a river system." is the fourth definition, qualified with "loosely". For sake of completeness, a disambiguation page should be set up and a new article started for the sixth meaning, "A shed used as a wash-house" ;-). In all seriousness, this article needs splitting into two - one entitled "Basin (geography)", noting the US usage of "watershed" for this feature; the other entitled "Water-parting", noting both the British "watershed" and the US "Continental divide" (small "d" version of the article).

Perhaps you don't realise quite how little your version of the term "watershed" is understood outside your own boundaries - if you look at the figurative sense in <A href="">this paper</A>, you will see that academics in Britain likewise cannot conceive of anyone meaning anything other than a dividing line by "watershed". Likewise, if you look at the tables/pictures part of <a href="">this summary</A>, you will see that the water authorities also hold the definition of a watershed being a dividing line. 19:33, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Usage of "watershed" seems to vary between English dialects. I'm a native speaker of New Zealand English, and watershed sounds foreign/American to me (except in the watershed moment sense). In my NZ Oxford dictionary, "watershed" is given just two meanings: one being watershed divide, and the other being a turning point in events. I suspect that professional usage, as in many disciplines, has followed typical American usage here. (Is anyone here familiar with general British or Australian usage?) Catchment area (or catchment for short) is the term I find most natural. I could also use catchment basin or drainage basin (but not water basin, which sounds more like something in a bathroom or laundry to me). Searching for "catchment" on Wikipedia reveals that many of our articles use this word, so I have added redirects to this article from Catchment and Catchment area. I would also be very tempted to change the introductory text "or water basin" to "or catchment area"; any thoughts on this? Avenue 04:23, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

PS - searching Wikipedia for "water basin" finds seven other articles using this phrase. Only three use the term to mean "watershed". (All of these refer to European lakes/lagoons/rivers, which makes me wonder if it's a literal translation from German/Dutch.) Avenue 04:59, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)
No, it's definitely standard British English. 19:33, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Given the ambiguity, should this be renamed water basin, which is unambiguous? —Ashley Y 00:42, 2005 Jun 14 (UTC)

No. Check Google - there is no ambiguity, 95%+ watershed = drainage basin. Language changes. I see no hits on first ten google result pages that would indicate use as drainage divide. -Vsmith 02:26, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)
There certainly is ambiguity. The websites in Google are all American, while in British English, a watershed is a divide between water basins. —Ashley Y 03:05, 2005 Jun 14 (UTC)
Then perhaps the British should get busy and make some web sites :-) As I said the language is changing and the British do not have a monopoly on the language. I submit that the current dominant usage both popular and scientific is watershed = water basin. I just a bit ago created a water basin article stub to help with clarification (I hoped) only to have it almost immediately changed into a redirect here by some Australian chap ... hmm. -Vsmith 03:50, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Americans do not have a monopoly on language either. "Water shed" is ambiguous, having different meanings in American and British English. "Water basin" is unambiguous. —Ashley Y 04:41, 2005 Jun 14 (UTC)
"Water basin" is very much ambiguous. See [1] for photos illustrating another meaning, which is the dominant meaning for some native speakers of English. In my dialect (New Zealand English), I believe catchment area is the dominant noun phrase for the subject of our article, and using either watershed or "water basin" in this sense would gather puzzled looks. - Avenue 22:34, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
How about water catchment area as unambiguous? —Ashley Y 06:29, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

How did it get so muddled?[edit]

I have just happened upon this correspondence. As a geographer - but perhaps more so looking at the pure English (US or British, it's the logic that surely counts?) - a "watershed" is just that - somewhere where water is shed. That in itself suggests strongly that it has to be at a reasonably high level to get the water going to BE shed. From the watershed it descends to lower levels - into a basin, which requires sides to make it that shape. The sides are watersheds, the bottom is the basin. One river in its basin may collect water from several watersheds around the perimeter of its "catchment area" - which leads me to my next point.

More important to my mind is how the term "catchment area" came to be connected to a watershed? My own understanding of a catchment area is that a large proportion of rivers begin with a whole series of tributaries, so that the whole thing on a map resembles a tree, culminating in the main stream entering a large body of water. It is that tree-shaped area that is the catchment - ie where the river has collected all its water. Of course there are connections with the basin/shed, but it is definitely not the same thing!! See for some definitions and for another - the latter shows the Great Lakes as an example of a catchment area!!!

And Continental Divide does not involve basins. Quote from "Collins Encyclopedia:

... an elevation of land separating streams that flow to opposite sides of a continent ... Away from USA, for example, one could cite the Ural Mountains; the Pyrenees;

Peter Shearan 18:12, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Watersheds in the curriculum[edit]

Does this section really belong in an encyclopedia article? Which curriculum? Which country? And surely the vast majority of articles in Wikipedia cover topics that are present in the curriculum of some educational establishment, somewhere in the world? --Lancevortex 23:01, 21 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I do not think it does belong here, and so I've been bold and removed it. Worldtraveller 11:34, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)


"It should be noted that all land areas on Earth are part of one watershed or another."

Even Antarctica? — Ливай Anarchy symbol neat.png 03:33, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, Antarctica is the watershed (iceshed?) of the Southern Ocean - all the way around :-). Vsmith 03:48, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Is watershed above used in the sense of waterdivide? I imagine water (frozen) reaches the Southern Ocean via various icesheds (catchment basins). Laurel Bush 10:57, 21 January 2006 (UTC).

You can sensibly talk about the catchment areas of the Ross and Amundsen Seas, for instance, and the divide between them. See the first map shown here.
There are a few parts of Antarctica that don't drain into the Southern Ocean, the McMurdo Dry Valleys for example. -- Avenue 14:23, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Propose erasing this talk section[edit]

This talk section almost needs a talk section itself. How about we earase it and start over? It will still be there in the history.--Ray 13:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Don't erase, archive when it gets too long. Seems manageable so far. Vsmith 14:16, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Dual meaning of "watershed"[edit]

According to the OED, the original definition of "watershed" is as "water divide". Over time is come to mean also "drainage basin". The bulk of this article addresses this second definition. How should this duality be dealt with? Cheers, Daniel Collins 16:42, 18 March 2006 (UTC).

In my rush I overlooked that this discussion has already taken place above, but without a good conclusion. Expect forthcoming changes. Daniel Collins 18:13, 18 March 2006 (UTC).

At the extreme edge of a watershed in hydrology the rain drops have to decide which way to go.. to this catchment area, or the adjacent one.. This is a watershed moment.. Gregorydavid 09:30, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

A watershed moment[edit]

It's well established above that "watershed" is ambiguous. In American English the term refers to the drainage basin, while in British English it refers to the water divide. These are both in contemporary usage, potentially leading to confusion given their similarity, and that is something we should avoid. (For your own edification, check online dictionaries.)

Possible alternatives include: drainage basin, drainage area, catchment basin, catchment area, river basin, and water basin. I think we must wash our hands of the water basin option, and river basin is restrictive. Catchment area/basin is I think less often used. (Though my personal preference when talking hydrology and geomorphology is just to use "catchment"). I think "basin" is better than "area", though possibly not by much. I thus think the content contained on this page that refers to a drainage basin be moved to drainage basin (in fact, I've already done it but I am looking for consensus).

In place of the current watershed page I propose this alternative one.

What thoughts? Cheers, Daniel Collins 23:15, 18 March 2006 (UTC).

I strongly support this general approach. It deals squarely with the ambiguous usage of watershed, rather than taking one side as we have implicitly done up until now. Catchment area/basin sounds better than drainage basin to me personally, but that's probably just due to it being the dominant phrase in my dialect. If drainage basin is more widely understood, I'm happy with that. -- Avenue 00:10, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
Support. —Ashley Y 01:13, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
I should clarify my position. I support the end goal, but it would be better to move the existing Watershed page (so that its history and talk page come along as well) than to simply overwrite the content. -- Avenue 01:14, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Right-o. I don't know how to do that. I just do content. Please do what ever should be done. Daniel Collins 01:38, 24 March 2006 (UTC).

Drainage basin should be merged with Watershed - so that the latter can then be moved to the former? Laurel Bush 12:21, 24 March 2006 (UTC).

Yes, that's what I think we should do. I'm going to revert Daniel's last edit to Watershed, as we'd need to go back to the previous version to merge the two articles, and (more importantly) there doesn't seem to be consensus support for the new version (see JackLumber's comments below). -- Avenue 21:49, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

A drainage basin can be a pan or a depression in large river system, like the Orange River. When the pan fills the outflow contributes to the flow of the larger parent system.. Gregorydavid 09:34, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

What does "watershed" mean to you?[edit]

Which definition of watershed is adopted in Canada? Australia? New Zealand? etc? I'm trying to get at whether one can replace "US English" with "North America", and so on. Cheers, Daniel Collins 14:15, 23 March 2006 (UTC).

Well, don't you come from New Zealand? Here's the (American, but unbiased and international in scope) linguist's standpoint. The original meaning of "watershed" was "divide"; soon the word came to denote the drainage basin in the U S of A; which is why the term "divide" was coined—to avoid ambiguity. In everyday usage in North America (i.e., United States and Canada) watershed means drainage basin—this concept being more used, useful, and substantial than that of a "divide." This being said, someone using the word "watershed" to refer to a divide really can't faze me—that's just the "etymological" meaning; additionally, all of my numerous dictionaries (American, British, whatever) are perfectly comfortable with both meanings and don't have regional indicators; for instance, check out CALD (a British-based dictionary). This means that this is not an American English vs. British English issue, but rather an American vs. British usage issue. Both meanings of "watershed" are consistent with the lexis of any dialect of the English Language—which is why you shouldn't write things such as "accepted meanings," "American English," "British English" and so on. This is a matter of usage and not of dialectal differences. The concept itself of catchment area is commoner in North America than the rest of the English-speaking world, and this probably favored the meaning transfer. I guess that Australian usage is like British, but I'm not quite sure. By the way, you kinda butchered the watershed page, didn't you? That stuff should be in the Watershed (disambiguation) article. The drainage basin page should redirect to watershed IMO, as the word "watershed" in this sense is much more used, not just in North America. On the flipside, what is a page about a "water divide" supposed to say? — JackLumber 14:56, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Drainage basin used to redirect to watershed - I changed it on 12 March. I was trying to fix nearly 200 links to the disambiguation page basin. Many of the links were from Eastern European river stubs, and I felt to link directly to the watershed article as it then was, was inappropriate. CarolGray 20:42, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
If it is just a difference in usage, it seems like a fairly extreme one to me. The New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary gives two meanings for "watershed"; the first boils down to "water divide", and the second refers to watershed events. The complete omission of the "drainage basin" meaning reflects NZ English usage, in my experience. This meaning is given at the listings for "basin" and "catchment area" in this dictionary. Any speakers of British, Australian English etc care to weigh in? -- Avenue 23:16, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm British, and to me, a "watershed" is a ridge (which "sheds water") between two drainage basins (or catchment areas). I am happy with using watershed for a slope down which water runs, but I wouldn't use it to mean "river basin". CarolGray 17:53, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

In my studies in Canada, watershed always meant the catchment area of, say, a river. Is it possible that in the British usage 'watershed' is just an abbreviation of watershed boundary? Michael Z. 2006-03-28 17:29 Z

On the contrary, according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the "water divide" meaning is older than the "drainage basin" meaning. CarolGray 18:44, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree that the following terms all relate to hydrology:

  • divide, the line or point along a line that separates an area into two catchment areas, basins or watersheds.
  • basin can be limited and be the area defined by the full water line of dam, or it refer to the entire catchment area of a dam. The basin can be named to refer to a particular river, then it refers to the catchment area where the system diccharges through a river, normally into the sea.

Cheers, Gregorydavid 13:50, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Merge and disambiguate[edit]

Most of this article ought to be merged into drainage basin, which talks about essentially the same thing. Selected tidbits may belong in divide, or water divide (which two articles ought to be merged with each other, anyway).

Since the precise term watershed is ambiguous, it can become a disambiguation page like the following example:

Watershed may refer to:


[updated, with the original meaning first —MZ] Michael Z. 2006-03-28 17:29 Z

As I said above, it would be better to merge the drainage basin content into this article (watershed), then move this article back to drainage basin. This article has a much longer history and more extensive discussion, which would become less accessible if we simply merge to drainage basin.
Our existing Watershed (disambiguation) page is more complete than your example. -- Avenue 00:15, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Sounds like the right way to do it; sorry I missed that. Cheers. Michael Z. 2006-03-29 00:28 Z
Go for gold. NB: all the decent content has already been merged into drainage basin, and then some. Daniel Collins 00:51, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
But "watershed" is far more used, and even more "technical" then "drainage basin." I would suggest

Whaddya think? We can also move this talk page to the new page. --JackLumber 12:29, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't like your proposed approach, because "watershed" is simply not used in my native dialect to mean "drainage basin". So titling something "Watershed (drainage basin)" seems odd, because the "... (drainage basin)" part appears to be redefining the initial "Watershed" part, not clarifying it. Something like "fork (container)", to give an imaginary example. I gather from people's comments above that this probably affects most speakers of Commonwealth English (excluding Canadians). "Drainage basin" doesn't seem entirely natural to me, but still seems like a reasonable compromise between Commonwealth English and North American English usage.
The "far more used" point seems arguable to me. Searching on Google for "watershed site:uk" seems to show mainly figurative and "water divide" meanings, with a few guest listings of American origin using the "basin" meaning. -- Avenue 13:31, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Take e.g. Yard. We have Yard (land), Yard (beer), and Yard (sailing); so it makes sense that we have Watershed (drainage basin); "drainage basin" is a definition of "watershed," and therefore clarifies it IMO. "Drainage basin" is not entirely natural to me either, at it's just a "definition," the "proper" term being watershed. It seems to me that British usage doesn't have an equally idiomatic term for this thing. Anyways, you can do what you want, I'm perfectly comfortable—except coming up with nonsensical locutions such as "Commonwealth English"...—JackLumber 13:48, 29 March 2006 (UTC) Oh sorry, I didn't notice you are from New Zealand. So it's pretty safe to assume that you don't want to speak "British"... and I respect that...
  • Cutting out reference to dialects, or whatever, and replacing them with locations is no problem.
  • Which is more technical? From my experience and from doing searches on Web of Science... In NZ, Aussie, and the UK, "catchment" is both in popular and technical use. ("River basin" too, for larger catchments.) In western European countries that don't speak English natively, English becomes the common research language for hydrology and geomorphology. They borrow their neighbor's tongue, and hence use "catchment". In North America, where I live and work, "watershed" is used predominanty, though in hydrology and geomorphology circles "catchment" is fine too, and "drainage basin" gets plenty of action. I use "watershed", "drainage basin", and "catchment" interchangeably, with a slight preference for "catchment"; while from NZ, I didn't realise "watershed" had such contrasting definitions. On UN websites (policy) "watershed" is the more common term.
  • That said, I'm not so sure the technical term is what WP necessarily wants. It's not the professionals these pages are targeting. Eg. hydrologic cycle points to water cycle.
Daniel Collins 17:09, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Drainage basin seems perfectly understandable to most people, and should be acceptable to technical people everywhere, even if it's not their most-used term. It has the advantage that it is self-explanatory to laymen who may not have heard of a watershed or catchment. Michael Z. 2006-03-29 17:52 Z
All things considered, Drainage basin is OK. But Watershed should redirect there (most likely a fellow typing "watershed" wants the skinny on water basins, and would be frustrated by being presented with a disambiguation page), with a Watershed redirects here, see Watershed (disambiguation), yada yada yada tag. And Watershed (disambiguation) should feature all the information Daniel recently gathered, with quotations, etc.—that was interesting. --JackLumber 19:38, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree, but I have one last question which I hope would solidify it. When people (who equate watershed with divide) talk about this, which term is used more? Watershed or divide? Is there a clear winner? (My gut says "divide".)
(Side notes on etymology. (1) Gully and erosion have quite interesting origins. (2) It seems to me that when "watershed" was originally coined people thought about things differently. "Shed" seems to first mean "to separate" small, whole units (eg. lambs from ewes, or one leg from another). It evolved also to mean separating other quantities (eg. wool from sheep; hair from cats). It seems to me either that "watershed" came from the ealier concept of shed, or that people's conception back then of how water accumulates was not as developed as now. If "shed" is used as "the cat sheds its hair", then it's actually the whole basin that sheds the water, waterways included. This is unsubstantiated POV.) Cheers, Daniel Collins 21:39, 30 March 2006 (UTC).
My Canadian Oxford gives the etymology as "WATER + shed ridge of high ground (related to SHED²), after German Wassercheide". Shed 2 means the shedding of leaves, fur, etc., and comes from "Old English sc(e)adan, from Germanic". So a watershed is simply ground that sheds water.
I see no evidence that it means separating lambs from ewes, unless you mean putting some of them in a shed (shed 1), which has a separate etymology, "apparantly a variant of SHADE". Michael Z. 2006-03-30 22:08 Z
From OED online: SHED: "To separate, divide. Now only dial., chiefly in farming uses: To separate (lambs) from the ewes, or (calves) from the cows; to separate (cattle, sheep) from the herd or flock. to shed the shanks (Sc.): to set the legs apart." The first date they have for this use is c.1000, but I can't read it. Daniel Collins 22:15, 30 March 2006 (UTC).

I disagree strongly about the "frustration" of a disambiguation page at watershed; while it may be "most likely" that said fellow is thinking of a hydrological context, and not the metaphorical one, and from the greater numbers of "North American" than "Commonwealth" (ambiguity and overlap retained deliberately) such fellows, for the "basin" sense than the "divide" one, but this is not at all clear-cut. Such a "leading use" doesn't meet the standard of being the "well known" to be the "primary meaning" of a term, which is the standard for occupying that part of the namespace, without qualification. From a practical viewpoint, compare the amount of frustration and confusion of someone getting a dab page, and being one obvious and simple click away from the "correct" article; vs. that of being sent to the "wrong" article, with a contradictory meaning to the one being sought. (Imagine the proverial 13-year-old doing their geography homework.) These are sufficiently divergent that the second should be studiously avoided, even if the latter is somewhat more common. A further alternative would be a short article explaining the history and different senses of the term itself, linking to the articles on the separate concepts, rather than a dab page as such. Alai 03:45, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Oh, come on, Ireland-man, don't be so... insular :-) The problem is, the "water basin" sense of watershed is much more substantial, aside from being commoner. What would a feller be supposed to find on a page about a "water divide"? Best-case scenario, just a couple lines. Most all occurrences of the word on the Internet mean "water basin." Besides (as Daniel found out) as early as 1877 British scientist Thomas Henry Huxley was convinced that it was better to set aside the original meaning of "watershed" (even before the word came to denote the basin; by then the term was used to indicate the slope along which the water flows.)--JackLumber 12:42, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
How is suggesting a disambiguation page insular? Sounds like a very neutral approach to me. Watershed is a concept taught in geography in British schools, and in that context it means a divide. There's even major watershed, to describe a line between two rivers which never meet but flow into the sea separately (e.g. the divide between the Congo basin and the Nile basin), or a minor watershed, where the two rivers do eventually meet, such as the watershed between the Mississippi and Missouri basins. So this is not some minority nontechnical use, it just happens to be less common some parts of the world. I vote merge Drainage basin into Watershed, then move Watershed to Drainage basin and finally move Watershed (disambiguation) to Watershed, as per above. — SteveRwanda 15:48, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
It was just a pun! Alai lives on an island (that is, Ireland), hence Alai is ipso facto... insular. But the "water basin" sense of watershed is way too common to simply confine the term to a disambiguation page—the *concept* itself of basin is more familiar to people in North (and South) America. --JackLumber 19:24, 31 March 2006 (UTC) British schools, huh? There's not just Britain, you know.
Aha, insular. What a good pun. Anyway, to address your point There's not just Britain, you know. I would counter that there's not just America either. You're suggesting an approach in which only your definition is recognised, I'm suggesting a neutral approach in which all meanings are given equal weighting. I don't think there's much argument left here. SteveRwanda 15:22, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Further evidence to consider:

  1. [2] UK site defining watershed as divide only.
  2. When searching Google for "watershed site:uk", the first nine references to watershed as a geographical entity equate watershed to catchment. The 10th equates it to divide. There are many subsequent results meaning divide.
  3. [3] Geological Society of London instructs writers of manuscripts to use watershed as divide, not as in the "American usage" of drainage basin.
  4. [4] offers more on usage of the terms we are playing with. It emphasises the UK use as divide, and the US as basin.

Daniel Collins 20:20, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Since 'watershed as divide' is clearly not uncommon, my final position is that this page become the disambiguation page. There appears to be many voices on this talk page in agreement, though not all. I would hope this can be resolved pronto. I think we've discussed it to death. Daniel Collins 21:54, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Ditto. I've decided to be WP:BOLD and make a start on this process since in my opinion we have a broad consensus now, minus the one dissenter. If I'm wrong, shoot me down with a bow and arrow. It should now be assumed that the Watershed page will end up at Drainage Basin, so that term should be the principal one used on this page. SteveRwanda 15:22, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
But please be aware that most all occurrences of "watershed" on Wikipedia mean "drainage basin." So it would be logical that when a customer types "left bracket left bracket watershed right bracket right bracket," that would cause a redirection to the page on drainage basins. It would be way better than typing every single time "left bracket left bracket drainage basin pipe watershed right bracket right bracket," huh? I already agreed on the name of the page (drainage basin), why do youse guys want even more? We have a policy about disambiguation pages, don't we? That's so anti-American of you. --JackLumber 18:27, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
The wikilink convenience is certainly an issue, but I think we just have to lump it. I think of WP as being for outisders to learn, not for insiders to edit. Also, it's not as if we should develop an article assuming other WP articles are right. Daniel Collins 19:32, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
JL, those aren't customers that'd be typing that, those would be "content providers". And no, it would not. This is an international project, would it be desirable to privilege one set of users of a confusing term, as editors mind you, rather than to encourage avoidance of the confusing term in the first place? Think of the actual customers, to wit, the readers. Rather than [[drainage basin|watershed]], better simply [[drainage basin]]. But if easy links to US terms is really the priority, just use [[watershed (U.S.)|]]. Alai 14:57, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
My reply is below. JL

Requested Move[edit]

I've now put in an official request at WP:RM for the two moves relating to this issue. — SteveRwanda 09:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Watershed → Drainage basin – Watershed refers to a drainage basin in some places only. In others it means the divide between drainage basins. Watershed should therefore be the disambiguation page, with 'Drainage basin' (an undisputed term) becoming the article now located at Watershed — SteveRwanda 09:47, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your opinion with ~~~~
  • SupportSteveRwanda 09:47, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • SupportLaurel Bush 10:12, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support both moves. moving Watershed → Drainage basin, Abstain on moving Watershed (disambiguation) → Watershed. Regarding the latter, I feel torn between the neutrality of a disambiguation page versus making life easier for readers of North American articles (which do seem to be the main ones using the word "watershed" on Wikipedia) by simply redirecting to Drainage basin. -- Avenue 10:26, 3 April 2006 (UTC) Reading WP:DAB and looking through "What links here" convinced me. -- Avenue 13:38, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support on first. Delay vote on second: suggest outside, WP-guru judgement. Daniel Collins 11:33, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
    Support on second. Daniel Collins 13:08, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - CarolGray 17:21, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - just do it. —Ashley Y 20:21, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - Petri Krohn 06:40, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. That many articles link to watershed in the US sense, unqualified, is probably a good indication that those articles need better "internationalisation support", rather than that the status quo is a good option. Alai 14:42, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Poorly or deceptively worded proposal. Consider dominant and technical usage rather than what I learned in gramar school. Language evolves. Vsmith 23:43, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Ditto what Vsmith wrote. JackLumber 11:35, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussion A[edit]

  • Following VSmith's vote:
Could you clarify what you don't like about the proposal's wording? -- Avenue 01:06, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Rather obvious isn't it? .. in some places only. totally ignores the predominance of modern and technical usage, as well as current Wiki usage. Designed to make it sound like a trivial US vs GB usage difference. Also, look who is voting in favor ... hmm (oops, shoulda said favour :-) Ah well ... life rolls on. Vsmith 01:28, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
You mean, of course, predominance of modern and technical usage in some places only. Consider worldwide English usage, rather than "what I learned in gramar school". American English is not universal. —Ashley Y 03:08, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Oh, of course :-) and the 27 million+ Google hits for Watershed management (we need an article on that) are obviously about managing ridgeline divides in some places only. And thanks for so graciously pointing out my mis-spelling of gramar - I must therefore just be some dumb hillbilly who don't know anything ... By the way, I learned the British definition of watershed in grammar school, therefore ... no, I'll quit now. Vsmith 03:55, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Maybe there's a misunderstanding here. For me at least, the most important issue is that outside North America, "watershed" is not usually used to mean a drainage basin. I don't think anyone has claimed that watershed is used more often globally to mean divide than basin, just that this is very much the case in some countries. The fact that "watershed" is used to refer to a divide between basins just makes it more confusing.
On the Google hits front, basin management gets over 30 million, and catchment management gets another 5.5 million. This doesn't suggest that there's a single dominant term, but basin does seem to beat watershed. -- Avenue 08:02, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussion B[edit]

  • On usage on North American pages, based on Alai's "internationalisation support" comment
(but please be aware that articles about North America should use North American terminology, i.e. they should talk about "watersheds" rather than "drainage basins." What do you mean by "internationalization support"? --JackLumber 20:02, 5 April 2006 (UTC))
They should use North American terminology when there's a clear distinction between the US and UK version of the word, and no reasonable alternative exists, so articles about American cities can say 'Subway' and 'Color' since there's no other clear way to define it. In this case, however, drainage basin means exactly what you would call a watershed, but it's unambiguous and acceptable on both sides of the Atlantic. People from other parts of the world do sometimes read articles about North America and you should try to avoid confusing them as much as possible! — SteveRwanda 08:25, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Naaah. That would mean mangling the language. Every English speaker should stick as much as possible to his/her own dialect and idiolect. The English language teems with words having different meanings in different dialects—see List of words having different meanings in British and American English, a page to which I probably am the major contributor. I'm plenty happy with subways, chemists, shops, pavements, etc. in English towns and cities. Similarly, if "watershed" is the commonest term in North America, I don't see a reason why it should be avoided in such contexts. And if somebody is not familiar with the usage of somebody else, well—that's what Wikipedia is for. Nobody will ever learn anything if we write pidgin. --JackLumber 11:37, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Have moved this discussion out of the main vote block, since it's not really directly related to whether the move goes ahead.
Would appreciate some other input on this, but it seems to me Wikipedia should aim to be readable and understandable to as wide a range of people as possible. This may mean people avoiding local terms that they would otherwise use in day-to-day life, but that is (IMHO) the lesser of two evils.
As an example, people in Lancashire call a bread roll a barm cake but I think it would be wrong of them to use that term in WP articles, even those pertaining to Lancashire, as many speakers of English elsewhere simply wouldn't understand. They could follow the barm cake link, but that's cumbersome and upsets the flow of the article reading process. Much better just to say bread roll in the first place, even if that doesn't come so naturally to the Lancastrian writing the article. Similarly for Watershed. — SteveRwanda 16:12, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
No, no, no, and no. You are mixing up REGIONAL DIFFERENCES WITHIN ONE MAJOR DIALECT and WHAT IS EVERYWHERE STANDARD IN A MAJOR DIALECT (British, American). Your "barm cake" example belongs in the former category and is not germane to the point. I could as well say that I don't write spa, a potentially confusing New England term, in place of soda fountain. Can't you see that it's not the same as the watershed thing? Take the word "pavement," for instance. It has opposite meanings depending on the dialect (i.e., American or British). Much like watershed. But should British editors write "pedestrian paved walkway" in lieu of their standard term "pavement" (or "sidewalk," a non-British term) every time? I don't think so. If one is confused, he/she has just to look it up—again, that's what Wikipedia is for. When I edit British-based pages, I always keep from using American idioms (e.g. I'd write "apart from" instead of "aside from"). Nobody should try to forcibly modify anyone else's speech, teach him/her how to write, or monkey with his/her work the way you are floating. I'm dreadful sorry Steve, but you are clearly and patently wrong. --JackLumber 20:15, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
I generally agree with JackLumber here. I see no problem with editors using "watershed" (meaning drainage basin) in articles about US subjects, or "pavement" in British articles. I think it'd be almost impossible to stop people doing so. In parallel with this, a disambiguation page at watershed seems useful for those readers who are not familiar with this usage. -- Avenue 22:11, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
I see WP as a means to an end. I'd like readers to learn and then go away and apply what they learn. Most likely, they will apply it among people who did not read WP, yet their knowledge must be compatible - they have to talk the same language. WP is not here to engineer cultures, but to offer information for people to use, if and how they choose. If it becomes useless to them, what good is it? I think articles about explicitely N. American topics should use whatever term would facilitate N. Americans applying that knowledge in their community. The same goes in New Zealand. (eg. The Mississippi drains the largest US watershed; the Southern Alps watershed stretches almost the length of the South Island.) For more genral themes, it should be a universal term, such as drainage basin. The proof of the pudding is not in the baking, but in the eating. Cheers, Daniel Collins 02:19, 7 April 2006 (UTC).
Or maybe the proof of the barm cake is in the pie?! I don't think either of our opinions are 'clearly and patently wrong' here, it's just too different ways of interpreting how Wikipedia content should be written and for which audience. It's inevitable that editors will use watershed in whichever sense they are accustomed to anyway. I still think it's unfortunate for worldwide readers, but whatever. I'm off to relax in the sun by Lake Kivu this weekend anyway, so am not in an argumentative mood! Cheers — SteveRwanda 09:58, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussion C[edit]

  • Based on Daniel Collin's original split vote
    • I'm not following the logic here. To carry out only the first move and not the second would be arguably more confusing than doing nothing at all. The whole point is to allow users looking for either kind of watershed to pick out the one they want. Links to Watershed come in various forms (see my comment below), so a dab page is the only neutral way forward. SteveRwanda 11:56, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
The logic is to detach ourselves from the debate - which took an awefully long time to reach the first stage, but which was fast-tracked to the second - and seek additional input regarding WP best-practices. It may well produce the same result, but in doing so, this should make the process easier to swallow. Daniel Collins 12:16, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't think there's any need to detach ourselves at this stage - Wikipedians do not need to wait for 'gurus' before making edits; and regarding best practice, it's all there in WP:DAB#Page naming conventions, notably:
  • In most cases, the generic term or phrase should be the title of the actual disambiguation page.
  • When the primary meaning for a term or phrase is well known (indicated by a majority of links in existing articles, and by consensus of the editors of those articles), then use that topic for the title of the main article, with a disambiguation link at the top. Where there is no such consensus, there is no primary topic page.
There's clearly no consensus saying that the main page should point to drainage basin, so the default option is therefore to go for the generic term as actual dab page. Continue the debate if you like, but to my mind this is clearly the most fair and neutral way forward, and we should get this over with so we can get on with writing other articles! Just IMHO of course. — SteveRwanda 12:40, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
I am thus sufficiently satisfied by WP:DAB#Page naming conventions to now agree, and I hope it works out for the best. If a flood of problems follows, it can be changed.Daniel Collins 13:08, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Excellent. We'll see how it goes. I thought there might be a flood of problems with Subway too, but so far they haven't materialised. I don't think masses of links to dab pages are necessarily the problem people think they are! SteveRwanda 13:31, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Discussion D[edit]

Add any additional comments

Re the issue of lots of links that already point to Watershed, while I agree that most of the articles linking here are referring to a drainage basin, it's not 100% - a quick glance at a small sample of 'What links here' reveals that County Durham, Birmingham, Rivers of Kent and European Watershed all wikilink Watershed meaning the water divide variety, while BBC Three refers to the TV context. Cultural history links here referring to a metaphorical watershed. Given these cases (and almost certainly more) exist, it would be vastly more confusing for readers of those pages to be shunted straight to drainage basin than for a few North American users to end up on a dab page, from which they can quickly pick up the intended meaning. — SteveRwanda 11:29, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

But it's up to you to fix all that jazz of soon-broken Watershed links. --JackLumber 20:12, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
"Broken" is too strong a word. Linking to a disambiguation page is not ideal, but it's tolerable. The current situation is more confusing for those people coming from articles using a different meaning for "watershed". -- Avenue 00:26, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Watersheds and dams[edit]

In the field of hydrology watersheds and catchment areas are virtually synonymous, one should however differentiate between the various points at which a catchment area is defined and measure along a river. Not all points along a stretch of river are suitable sites for dam construction, so the catchment area for a particular attractive looking dam site is determined and measured. Then the mean annual precipitation is researched within that area and other factors are considered to evaluate the viability of the dam site. If little or no water is shed in that are then the site would be useless, excepting if water entered the catchment are of the dam via a waterfall or pipe.. Gregorydavid 09:27, 4 April 2006 (UTC)


What was the result of this discussion? —Ashley Y 19:54, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Requested moves are actioned after five days if there's consensus, so there should be a result soon. -- Avenue 21:35, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Is the capital "B" in "Basin" merely an intermediate step? Daniel Collins 13:25, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Well now that the deed is done, who is going to fix those 600+ broken links to the Watershed disambiguation page? The responsibility for fixing all those usually falls on the person who made the page rename/move, but I'd say those who voted for the move and most certainly the proposer should pitch in and help. Vsmith 14:22, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Not only that but they need to keep coming back are moving those links every few months - forever. (Needless to say I think this move was wrong.) Rmhermen 15:22, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
The responsibility for improving Wikipedia is that of anyone who wants it. —Ashley Y 20:23, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Come to think of it, a bot that replaced [[watershed]] with [[drainage basin]] would do the trick, as long its changes are checked before being committed. —Ashley Y 20:25, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
...with either drainage basin, water divide, watershed (television), or watershed event. Daniel Collins
I mean, [[drainage basin|watershed]], etc. Daniel Collins 20:56, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
FWIW, after going through over 100 of these links (manually), I have seen all four of those meanings above (in that order of prevalence). -- Avenue 09:14, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
And I've even seen one sentence which uses both of the first two meanings. From Yukon#Geography:
"Its ragged eastern boundary mostly follows the watershed between the Yukon Basin and the Mackenzie River watershed to the east in the Mackenzie mountains."
-- Avenue 09:37, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Down to around 250 now 09:28, 9 April 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sceptre (talkcontribs)
Finished. Any other left shouldn't be tampered with Sceptre (Talk) 10:50, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I didn't even come close to 100. Unfortunately though, there a few mistakes in the automated process, but much fewer than otherwise. Daniel Collins 11:38, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
I know. I've corrected a few of the more egregious early edits, and I'm planning to review the rest at a more leisurely pace over the next week or so. -- Avenue 12:29, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
Done - I've now reviewed them all. (It looks like Daniel beat me to the last chunk.) -- Avenue 16:44, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Regional agreements[edit]

Today, bioregional democracy can include agreements of states in a particular drainage basin to defend it. These include the Great Lakes Commission, which deals with the largest freshwater drainage basin in the world. - - The Orange River discharges into the Atlantic ocean and forms the International boundary between various provinces and countries along its route. The source of the Orange River is in the Lesotho mountains. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project was conceived to divert water from Lesotho into the Vaal River system, itself a tributary of the Orange River, to supply the water needs of the Gauteng province in South Africa. Water from the Delivery tunnel is discharged into the Ash River. The spot has become a popular Kayaking venue.

Hi, I pasted the bit that was blanked out so that we can discuss this point. The significant aspect about the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is that all the water yeilded by the system forms part of the Orange River basin, but prior to the scheme being implemented water flowed from Lesotho into a tributary that was less useful to South Africa than is the case afterwards. An agreement was required to achieve this.. Cheers Gregorydavid 22:11, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

When I transferred the info I was distinguishing between rivers as geopolitical boundaries and drainage divides as geopolitical boundaries. It appeared to me that the Orange River watercourse was the boundary, not its catchment. (If I was wrong, corrent me.) However, you raise a further point, that the effective drainage basin was altered not by geomorphic change but by planned diversion, which is an interesting twist. I guess I overlooked that facet earlier. This is not a case of a basin defining a geopolitical domain, but geopolitics defining a basin domain. Daniel Collins 23:17, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Hi, no you are not wrong, when I started talking about the Orange River I realised that one must draw a distinction between the line of the river forming a boundary and the limits of a catchment itself. I do not know of any case where the international boundary coincides with the limits of the divide or basin. ( I see you have been having fun with that issue of divides, basins, catchments and sheds..).

Where these large water projects are undertaken one cannot get away from the need for agreements between countries. This is because the source in one country satisfies the need in another. South Africa and Lesotho set up a Joint Permanent Technical Committee (JPTC) to see the development and operation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project through. Cheers, Gregorydavid 09:14, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

FWIW, I believe much of the border between Chile and Argentina follows the Andean divide. Also the northern half of Sweden's border with Norway mainly follows the Atlantic-Baltic divide, and the Franco-Spanish border mostly follows the crest of the Pyrenees. Those are just the ones that leapt to my mind, but there must be other cases. -- Avenue 11:59, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
I suppose it is a relatively safe bet, at times, for leaders to agree that the border is at the divide, without knowing exactly where it is. Let the technitians find it later..

Gregorydavid 15:55, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Water catchments as human water supply[edit]

I'm looking for an article on water catchments in the sense of "Don't log Melbourne's water catchment". This article (which redirects from "water catchment") doesn't seem to deal with water catchments as water supply for humans. Am I looking at the wrong article, or is information just missing? —Pengo 23:22, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Not to sound dumb or anything but[edit]

We know that basins get water from the rain and snow but where does the snow really come from? If rain then would'nt it just go down to fast to become snow? And if it was fog turned into water than into snow than why does it condense there? 09:54, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Snow comes from the sky when the air temperature is below freezing. You really have to come to a northern/southern/high-altitude place to experience it. When it melts (this can happen slowly), it feeds into the drainage basin, and eventually forms a river.+mwtoews 18:33, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Isn't it the same as hydrological basin?[edit]

If it is the same as hydrological basin, please make the appropriate redirection page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:26, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Actually, in English, it is called a hydrologic basin. --Bejnar 16:45, 10 October 2007 (UTC)
As above discussion on watershed, hydrologic/al tends to vary with location (as per Geologic/al, Geographic/al, etc - see eg Geologic map#United Kingdom, Geographic Information System etc). 1965-1974 was UNESCO's International Hydrological Decade, followed by the International Hydrological Programme. Pterre (talk) 14:16, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
A hydrologic basin is similar to a drainage basin, but there can be distinct differences. Drainage basin usually refers to just surface water, while a hydrologic basin is concerned with both surface and ground water. In some instances there can be significant contribution of water from sources outside a drainage basin, such as when a permeable layer is tilted from a higher base level adjacent drainage basin. Also, drainage basins are usually concerned with water flow, while hydrologic basins include relatively static body of water both above and below ground. --Bejnar 17:01, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

water catchment area[edit]

What is water catchment area? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Moberg (talkcontribs) 17:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Ocean Drainage Basins[edit]

Geochange added the following to the article. It's not particularly encyclopaedic to have a section disputing the accuracy of the figure above it, but he or she may have a point, so I'm moving it here. I don't know Canadian geography, but oceans do come down to varying definitions a lot; Australia considers the Southern Ocean to border upon the south of the continent, for instance.

There is difficulty in the understanding of Ocean Drainage Basins using the diagram above. An example: The Athabasca River and North Saskatchewan River in Canada both start in the Rocky Mountains but end in two different oceans, even though they are proximal to each other in central Alberta. The Athabasca River to drains into Lake Athabasca which eventually drains into the Arctic Ocean; and the North Saskatchewan River drains into Lake Winnipeg which eventually drains into Hudson Bay. Due to outflows from the Arctic Ocean through the Hudson Strait primary flow of water from Hudson Bay is to the Atlantic Ocean and not the Arctic Ocean. Thus; the image above is misleading in that it groups to different drainage basins into one large drainage basin due to continental divides. Taken into the account that these two drainage basins flow into two different oceans, they should be classified as two different regional drainage basins or as the title of the figure "Ocean Drainage [Basins]".

-- Perey (talk) 12:59, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Maybe we could add a qualifier or a short remark that would give the reader an idea that the classification is not always clear?
Baeksu (talk) 13:03, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Making catchment basins[edit]

Perhaps the Delphino, Treno and Scarabeo plows can be mentioned for building catchment basins. They were used at the Keita Intergated development project. See and —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:07, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

I read both abstracts (hacking the Italian), and it seems that this is a fundamentally different use of "catchment" than is described in this article; perhaps it should go somewhere in agriculture and/or irrigation-related articles. Awickert (talk) 19:56, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

What objective criteria define a "major" basin?[edit]

The major basins as listed do not appear to be listed using geographically-neutral criteria. The list gives greater prominence to North American drainage basins and the Atlantic Ocean than they do those basins in other regions.

  • The North American Mediterranean Sea: Why make this distinction? Isn't this simply a part of the Atlantic Ocean? Why list it separately when other similarly prominent ocean areas are not (eg: South China Sea, Black Sea)? Why give this relatively obscure "mediterranean sea" greater prominence than the real Mediterranean Sea by listing it first?
  • Mediterranean Sea: A special case given its narrow outlet at the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Arctic Ocean: Why isn't this listed separately instead of just being listed as an extension to the Atlantic Ocean? It is probably better to list the five oceans of the world as the five major divisions within the article rather than combining the Arctic Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean.
  • None of the other oceans of the world include subregions that are listed separately.

A more neutral treatment would list the five oceans as five separate drainage regions, with a selection of major subregions being chosen using neutral criteria, such as area of land drained (larger areas are easier to see on a small map). For example, the area of the drainage basin of the Amazon River is comparable to the area of North America that drains into the Gulf of Mexico, so some justification can be made for showing the Amazon basin separately.

Alternatively, if such additions would clutter up the map and related discussion too much, remove the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Sea as a separate feature. It is not an ocean, and is not particularly distinct (compared to the Mediterranean which is much more clearly defined). This would list five oceans and one sea (the Mediterranean Sea).-- B.D.Mills  (T, C) 12:21, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Largest River Basins?[edit]

According to another Wikipedia article: The largest river basins are:

Amazon - 6,915000 km2
Río de la Plata - 4,144,000 km2
Congo - 3,680,000 km2
Nile - 3,349,000 km2
Ob - 2,990,000 km2
Mississippi - 2,980,000 km2

The info in this article: "The three largest river basins (by area), from largest to smallest, are the Amazon basin, the Congo basin, and the Mississippi basin." appears to be incorrect.

As far as discharge, it appears to be:

Amazon - 219,000 m3/s
Orinoco - 98,000 m3/s
Congo - 41,800 m3/s
Yangtze - 31,900 m3/s
Río de la Plata - 22,000 m3/s

Again the info in the article appears to be inaccurate: "The three rivers that drain the most water, from most to least, are the Amazon, Congo, and Ganges Rivers."--Keelec (talk) 23:51, 8 November 2010 (UTC)


Is this the same as a bayou?? If not, what's the difference? -- (talk) 11:51, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

A Bayou is part of a drainage basin and the water within one moves much much slower than a river, if it moves at all. A Bayou is usually a branch of a river or stream.--NortyNort (Holla) 12:21, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, according to Merriam Websters, a bayou is "any of various usually marshy or sluggish bodies of water" - any, not specifically a branch of a river. Just a marsh. And a basin can all be marsh. -- (talk) 07:02, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Water still had to be drained into the area so it doesn't have to be part of a large basin, maybe a sub-basin. Bayous and marshes are in lowland areas, often near estuaries. The bayou doesn't have to be a branch of a river, it can be a side channel or anabranch.--NortyNort (Holla) 07:26, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Drainage Basin count restatement and citation attempt.[edit]

Should change language to address "primary" watersheds/basins count to be more accurate and cite link below?

Haloway13 (talk) 16:07, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Animated GIF[edit]

Do we really need the the rapidly spinning animated Modelare 3D pentru Bazinul Hidrografic al Paraului Latorita.gif? The still photo (EN Bazinul hidrografic al Raului Latorita, Romania.jpg) already illustrates drainage basins well. I would find the GIF less annoying if I could control its rate of spin, but Google Earth is better suited for 3D visualization than is Wikipedia. Peter Chastain (talk) 11:39, 8 December 2011 (UTC)


The article states that "About 48.7% of the world's land drains to the Atlantic Ocean."

Given the map, that half of the world's land drains to the Atlantic can't possibly be true. Using the map as a coarse guide, one can see that about half of North America (overestimate) and Africa (underestimate) drain to the Atlantic along with close to all of Europe and South America. Using figures from Google and Wikipedia, that means that 9.54/2 + 11.67/2 + 3.931 + 6.888 = 21.42 million sq mi of land drains to the Atlantic. With a total terrestrial land area of 57.5 million sq mi, this means that only 37.2% of land drains to the Atlantic, far short of 48.7%.

Additionally, the given percentages sum to 99.7% (48.7 + 17 + 13 + 13 + 13 + 8), but without accounting for any of the endorheic basins, which eyeballed look to be around the size of South America, which is 12% of the world's land area. 48.7 - 37.2 = 11.5% ~= 12%, so I submit that it is simply not the case that 48.7% of the world's land drains to the Atlantic.

Further, none of the percentages are cited, and it's clear that common sense yields that they may be false. This should be addressed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:17, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

catchment area[edit]

The usage of Catchment area (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) is under discussion, see talk:Catchment area (human geography) -- (talk) 05:42, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Drainage system (geomorphology)[edit]

The drainage system article seems to fit well in the drainage basin article. Having two separate articles on this is also quite confusing. I propose the earlier to be merged into the latter. Rehman 13:02, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

I support this merge, now that I've seen the drainage system article (and realized it's about drainage basins, not sewage systems, as I would expect from the title). TypoBoy (talk) 15:01, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Oppose rather than merge, the drainage system article should be renamed as Drainage patterns, with a small section within this article...Jokulhlaup (talk) 14:20, 10 June 2016 (UTC)
Oppose. I largely agree with User:Jokulhlaup, that the drainage system (geomorphology) article should be renamed not merged, but renamed as Drainage pattern (singular not plural), with a small section within this Drainage basin article. There is a currently a redirect for Drainage pattern to the disambiguation page for Drainage system. This redirect should be removed if drainage system (geomorphology) is, at some point, renamed to Drainage pattern. GeoWriter (talk) 10:47, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

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