When we think of forests, majestic trees, precious wildlife, and clean, fresh air might come to mind. We probably don’t think about the water we drink.
We should. When you turn on your faucet this Arbor Day, take a moment and think about the important role trees play to make sure what comes out of the tap is healthy and clean.
Most people know that trees produce oxygen that we breathe and clean the air by acting as giant filters, removing harmful particles and pollutants. But you may not be aware that trees work just as hard to protect and purify our water sources, including those that provide drinking water for millions of Americans every day.
Trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the earth, and helping it soak into the soil. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways, reduce stormwater runoff, and lessen flood damage. They serve as natural filters to protect our streams, rivers, and lakes.
Forests in the United States are the source of drinking water for more than 180 million people, 59 percent of the U.S. population. Forests help protect vital water sources such as sparkling mountain streams filled with melting snow, healthy reservoirs and lakes, and our nation’s vast web of rivers.
Our forested areas are shrinking at an alarming rate. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 40 million acres of private forest could be lost in the next 40 years.
But we can plant trees.
Remember the role trees play in keeping our drinking water clean. As you celebrate Arbor Day today, don’t take your clean drinking water for granted when you turn on the tap. America’s trees worked hard to help deliver that refreshing glass of water.