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Forests are crucial in the production of clean drinking water in the Appalachian region, where heavily forested watersheds supply water to the densely populated eastern states. The U.S. Forest Service’s Forests to Faucets project is a national-scale spatial assessment identifying forested areas important for surface drinking water, and potential risks to those forests posed by development, insects and disease, and wildland fire.
The assessment uses input models for precipitation and evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land and ocean surface to the atmosphere) to estimate water supply and estimates water demand from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data on the number of people in the Southeast who depend on watersheds for drinking water. Through this supply-and-demand approach, the relative importance of different watersheds is estimated. Forest cover within each watershed is also estimated in order to identify places where forests are most important in the production drinking water.