Watershed Moments November 06 2014

Once upon a time, John Wesley Powell suggested a radical way to govern the western United States: by watershed. In 1890, he created a lovely map in watercolors called Arid Region of the United States, Showing Drainage Districts for the U.S. Geological Survey. Powell believed this would be a good system because in such a dry part of the country, water was bound to be the most pressing issue.

Water certainly is a key concern in the West (see California's current drought) but Powell's idea didn't make it off the map. Last year, however, John Lavey, a land use planner from Montana, decided to pick up where Powell left off, and he took it even further, asking not just "What if the Western states were formed around watershed as Powell envisioned?" but also "What if all of the American states were based around principal watershed, from coast to coast?"

He created his own The United (Watershed) States of AmericaLavey's map looks pretty different from the states we know--but it does have quite a bit in common with this 1870 map of River Systems of the U.S. (left). 



Check out the River Systems of the U.S. map to keep imagining a United States defined by rivers!