Watersheds 101


What is a watershed?

A watershed (or a catchment area) is defined as an area of land, large or small, where all of the rain that falls on, through it (underground) or drains off of it, flows to the same place such as a creek. Based on the creeks within our urban area, the City of North Vancouver is divided into four main watersheds, with each one flowing into a specific creek or directly into the Burrard Inlet.

From west to east the City’s four watersheds and one catchment area are:

Catchment Area:   7.8km2

Creek Length:  8.1km

Elevation Range:   180 to 1100m
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Catchment Area: 15.5km2
Creek Length: 9km
Elevation Range: 0 to 1300m
Major Tributaries: Thain Creek & Wagg Creek
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Mission Creek Catchment: 0.56km2

Wagg Creek Catchment: 4.4km2
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Catchment Area: 55.2 km2

Creek Length: 18km

Elevation Range: 0 to 1500m

Major Tributaries: Keith Creek & Hastings Creek
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Common Watershed Challenges

Everything that happens in the watershed affects everything downstream, including our creeks and the health of Burrard Inlet. Some of the biggest issues affecting our watersheds include:

  • Development and urbanization
  • High levels of hard (impermeable) surfaces
  • Development very close to creek banks
  • Water quality issues from stormwater discharge, spills, and non-point source pollution
  • Loss of Burrard Inlet estuaries
  • Highly engineered and channelized creeks
  • Risk of increased peak flows and reduced base flow due to increasing development
  • Degraded fish and river habitats

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