Water Quality and Quantity

Grace Mirzeler, CWSF

Clean and abundant water is a direct result of healthy, well-managed forests.

Water quality and quantity are declining across the West. 

The reasons for this are complex and interrelated and include human development (loss of forest cover), forest health, and wildfire (degraded forests). 

To make matters worse, drought conditions are impacting most western states. Water shortages are compounded by warming temperatures and increased demand brought on by population growth. 

Protecting the forested watersheds of the West is imperative. 

Forested watersheds contribute significantly to the health and productivity of the aquatic habitat of hundreds of fish and wildlife species, many of which are threatened or endangered. Water from forested watersheds also drives the economic engines of the West, from agricultural use to industrial needs in manufacturing and high tech, to service industries, recreation, and tourism -- all of which rely on large quantities of fresh water. 

In the Pacific islands, concerns over water are equally pressing as streams provide water for drinking, cooking, bathing and recreation, and are integral to supporting healthy coral reef ecosystems.

Many surface and groundwater concerns and opportunities span state boundaries, making water quality a vitally important shared management issue. 

Ensuring a sustainable supply of fresh water requires diligent and forward-looking stewardship of western forests. Clean and abundant water is a direct result of healthy, well-managed forests, and a healthy forest is a direct result of sound policies and management actions.