A watershed is an area of land that drains into a common creek, stream, river, or another body of water such as a lake. A watershed is made of smaller subwatersheds, such as a lake or river with multiple in-flowing streams.  High landforms such as hills form the boundaries of watersheds and direct the speed and path of its rivers.

In the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA) jurisdiction, there are 20 subwatersheds. Separated by a watershed divide, they flow into one of two larger watersheds:  the 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.  Activities on the landscape including forestry, agriculture, industry and urbanization influence water quantity and quality.  Each tributary stream, wetland, spring, or lake which join 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, climate and water 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 permitting, regulating and municipal plan review efforts, are highlighted under the Planning & Permits section of the website.

NBMCA's 2015 Integrated Management Strategy (IWMS) lays a 20-year roadmap for the management of the 20 subwatersheds.  As part of Integrated Watershed Management, NBMCA programs include watershed monitoring, flood forecasting, low water response, research, studies, management plans and drinking water source protection.   These all contribute to building our water and land resources' resiliency to climate change. 

NBMCA also manages Conservation Area lands that are available for public recreation.