A watershed is an area of land urban or rural that accumulates storm water and eventually drains to a lake, river, wetland or other waterway. Together, land and water make up a watershed system, and a healthy watershed is a vital component of an overall healthy ecosystem. Watersheds act as a filter for storm water runoff, providing clean water for drinking, irrigation, industry and recreation. The City of Birmingham has several urban creek watersheds, as well as two larger regional watersheds, which are essential for providing a healthy and livable community for our residents. Learn more about your local watersheds here:
- Valley Creek- a tributary to the Black Warrior river. This creek originates in Birmingham intersecting 5th avenue North and 7th street. Valley creek flows west to Bankhead Lake and has a high density of residential and commercial land uses; this means there are many large impervious surface areas, which contribute to storm water runoff.
- Village Creek- a tributary to the Black warrior river, it begins in the Roebuck Springs area of northeast Birmingham. The upstream portion of this watershed is primarily in contact with residential areas, while the downstream areas are used mainly for industry. Village creek is listed on the Alabama’s 303(d) impaired waters list for pathogens (E. coli).
- Five Mile Creek- this is a tributary to the Black Warrior river and it originates at the eastern base of Red Mountain, flowing westward through Birmingham. This creek has a range of 78 miles of total watershed, most of which is in contact with residential areas.
- Shades Creek- this creek is a sub-watershed of the upper portion of the Cahaba River Basin and its primary use is residential. Shades creek flows through and over urban and residential surfaces on the south side of Birmingham.
- Little Cahaba River- this is a major tributary for the Cahaba river within the city limits.
- Cahaba River Watershed- this is the longest free-flowing river in Alabama. It is major tributary of the Alabama River and part of the larger Mobile River Basin. Birmingham is in the upper portion of the Cahaba River watershed with forest and open space being the dominant use of the land. Rapid residential growth along the watershed has increased the possibility of introducing additional pollutants to this river. This is a major public health concern regarding water quality as Birmingham Water Works draws from this river to supply our local drinking water.
- Black Warrior Watershed- this watershed drains portions of seventeen counties in Alabama, covers 6,276 square miles of watershed and about 300 miles upstream to downstream. The Black Warrior watershed is heavily populated with Birmingham residents and contributes to roughly half of the city’s drinking water.