Published: August 28, 2018 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Headwaters Mean?

Headwaters are the source from which a river or stream begins its course. Headwaters are not as imposing as the river itself may be: They are smaller and quieter, and are often fed by springs, aquifers and mountain snow. Many headwaters have been contaminated or altered due to human activities in the area such as construction. It is essential to preserve and protect these headwaters according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) can be used to dig under these formations if a pipeline crossing has to pass through a region with headwaters.


Trenchlesspedia Explains Headwaters

Headwaters can also be defined as a surface drainage feature including intermittent streams. They can also be groundwater recharge areas and aquifers, and areas where groundwater discharges. Sometimes a vernal pool, wetlands and spring-fed ponds may also act as headwaters. Headwaters are integral and important because they contribute many factors such as flow regulation, reduction of flooding and erosion, sheltering and breeding of delicate upstream species and nurturing of downstream species by providing essential nutrients. Areas with headwaters are also very important for maintaining watershed integrity.


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