Water Quality and Quantity
Water quality and quantity are declining in the West. Many of the reasons are directly related to forest issues such as development (loss of forest cover), forest health, and wildfire (degraded forests). Drought conditions are impacting most western states. Shortages are compounded by warming temperatures and increasing demand brought on by growing populations. Water quality continues to be a shared management issue, and many surface and groundwater concerns and opportunities span state boundaries.
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 these sectors rely on large quantities of high- quality water. In the Pacific Islands streams provide water for drinking, cooking, bathing and recreation, and support healthy coral reef ecosystems.
Ensuring a sustainable supply of fresh water requires diligent and forward-looking stewardship of our 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.