Surface Runoff: water, from rain, snowmelt, or other sources, that flows over the land surface, and is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called overland flow. A land area which produces runoff draining to a common point is called a watershed. When runoff flows along the ground, it can pick up soil contaminants such as petroleum, pesticides, or fertilizers that become discharge or overland flow. The rate of runoff flow depends on the ratio of rain intensity to the infiltration rate.