Making the Connection Between Drinking Water and Forests

Frederick, MD (October 27, 2009)- Forests capture rainfall and replenish and cleanse our water supply. These processes are widely accepted in the scientific community, yet they have not really been translated into the language that most often drives planning and land use decisions at the local level: dollars.

Local government officials often make tough decisions about growth at the expense of natural resource conservation, and they must make these decisions without the benefit of economic data that measures the true costs of development and values of natural resources.
To address this gap, the Center for Watershed Protection received research funding from the Heineman Foundation to review existing literature on the costs and benefits of forests for protecting drinking water quality, and to conduct a pilot study evaluating the costs and benefits associated with conserving forests for drinking water protection in the Linganore Creek Watershed in Frederick County, Maryland.
They are close to completing the literature review, have defined a methodology to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with conserving forests for drinking water protection in Linganore Creek Watershed, and data collection is underway. As part of this project, the Center will develop recommendations for local planners to integrate forest conservation and water supply planning into long term planning efforts and land development decisions.
The ultimate goal is for this material to be used to:
a) advance planning for water supply and forest conservation and place it at the forefront of community issues
b) make the case for forest conservation to protect drinking water
c) encourage the use of incentives for forest conservation and tree planting that are more reflective of their true value, and d) factor in the costs of drinking water supply and treatment when evaluating development alternatives