Forests and fresh drinking water are inextricably linked. We all live in a watershed and our actions affect those downstream to greater or lesser extent, positively or negatively. The USDA Forest Service has recently released a new project called "Forest to Faucets" with extensive documentation and interactive maps. The project description is below or linked HERE.
The USDA Forest Service Forests to Faucets project uses GIS to model and map the continental United States land areas most important to surface drinking water, the role forests play in protecting these areas, and the extent to which these forests are threatened by development, insects and disease, and wildland fire.
The results of this assessment provide information that can identify areas of interest for protecting surface drinking water quality. The spatial dataset can be incorporated into broad-scale planning, such as the State Forest Action Plans, and can help identify areas for further local analysis. In addition it can be incorporated into existing decision support tools that currently lack spatial data on important areas for surface drinking water.
This project also sets the groundwork for identifying watersheds where a payment for watershed services (PWS) project may be an option for financing conservation and management on forest lands. On a macro scale, the Forests to Faucets data identifies areas that supply surface drinking water, have consumer demand for this water, and are facing significant development threats—all important criteria for successful PWS initiatives.
In perhaps its most important role, this work can serve as an education tool to illustrate the link between forests and the provision of surface drinking water—a key watershed-based ecosystem service.