A watershed is defined by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. Thus, watershed management is a key step in the restoration of polluted, or impaired waterbodies. This management and planning can also be used to protect healthy watersheds.

There are several watersheds located within the Southwest Conservation District. Below are current and past water management plans that the SWCD is/has been involved in:

The Southwest Conservation District received $9710 from the Quinnipiac River Fund through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.  This funding will support the us in continuing to host stakeholder meetings in the Quinnipiac River Watershed.  Attendees will include local non-profits, municipal land use staff, private citizens and other interested parties.  The objective is to create enhancements to the existing Watershed Based Plan by focusing on smaller sub regional watersheds and developing priority project lists for those same smaller watersheds.

The Southwest Conservation District has been contracted to coordinate the development of the Farm River Watershed Based Plan. This program is funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) program. The final document will meet both NRCS and CT DEEP Nonpoint Source Pollution Program objectives. Finishing this document will create implementation projects and funding opportunities for improving the watershed. Projects will be eligible within any of the municipalities in the watershed. These municipalities include Branford, North Branford, Guilford, and East Haven. For more information, please see the final draft of the Farm River Watershed Management Plan and the Farm River Fact Sheet.

The Mill River watershed covers an area of approximately 38 miles in New Haven County. Most of the watershed is located within the municipalities of Cheshire, Hamden, New Haven, Wallingford, North Haven, Prospect, and Bethany. The SWCD is currently working with The Mill River Watershed Association to implement projects throughout this watershed.

As part of the Mill River Watershed Plan, the Mill River Urban Waters Initiative (MRUWI) was established to provide community members of the Fair Haven area with opportunities to serve as environmental stewards. Community members will benefit through this initiative with access to citizen science as well as environmental outreach opportunities.

The West River Watershed supplies drinking water for countless families in the region. It originates in Bethany and runs along residential neighborhoods and heavy commercial corridors through Bethany, Woodbridge, New Haven, and West Haven. By the time the West River reaches its destination of New Haven Harbor, it has run a total length of 25 miles. Major tributaries of the West River include Sargent River and Wintergreen Brook in Hamden.

The Norwalk River watershed is located in the southwest portion of Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. It extends into six municipalities in Connecticut including New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, and Wilton, and one in New York (Lewisboro). The SWCD is working with the members of the Norwalk River Watershed Initiative to educate citizens about the boundaries and functions of the Norwalk River Watershed, the specific needs for protection and improvement to the river system, the benefits of a healthy watershed to individuals and communities, and provide opportunity for the public to speak out on issues and participate in the stewardship of the watershed.