Phys.org – Over the coming decades, many forested watersheds could be lost to development, lowering water quality and raising water treatment costs, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. This is the first study to combine water quality data, land cover projections, and information about public water systems at a large scale.
Water running off forested lands generally has lower concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorous, and suspended sediment than water leaving any other type of land, as the study shows. For example, developing just 1% of forests upstream of an intake could result in an 0.4% increase in the concentration of suspended sediment in the water, on average.
Protecting forested watersheds can help safeguard future drinking water supplies. In general, the more forested land upstream of the intake facility, the better the water quality.