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catchment area or drainage basin, area drained by a stream or other body of water. The limits of a given catchment area are the heights of land—often called drainage divides, or watersheds—separating it from neighboring drainage systems. The amount of water reaching the river, reservoir, or lake from its catchment area depends on the size of the area, the amount of precipitation, and the loss through evaporation (determined by temperature, winds, and other factors and varying with the season) and through absorption by the earth or by vegetation; absorption is greater when the soil or rock is permeable than when it is impermeable. A permeable layer over an impermeable layer may act as a natural reservoir, supplying the river or lake in very dry seasons. The catchment area is one of the primary considerations in the planning of a reservoir for water-supply purposes.
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drainage basin[′drān·ij ‚bā·sən]
An area in which surface runoff collects and from which it is carried by a drainage system, as a river and its tributaries. Also known as catchment area; drainage area; feeding ground; gathering ground; hydrographic basin.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The area within which all surface water flows toward the lowest point of its elevation.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.