New report analyzes 4,000 cities to demonstrate the health, climate and biodiversity benefits of source water protection
Research has shown that the number of “dead zones”—areas of seafloor with too little oxygen for most marine life—has increased by a third between 1995 and 2007. According to the researchers, dead zones are now “the key stressor on marine ecosystems” and “rank with over-fishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.”
Long regarded as wastelands, wetlands are now recognized as important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These beneficial services, considered valuable to societies worldwide, are the result of the inherent and unique natural characteristics of wetlands.
Forests, riparian buffers, wetlands and other natural lands are essential for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat.
The most recent National Water Quality Inventory reports that runoff from urbanized areas is the leading source of water quality impairments to surveyed estuaries and the third largest source of impairments to surveyed lakes. This overview provides information on how urbanization affects water quality, what can be done to minimize the impacts, and a list of related publications for further reading.
The occurrence of hypoxia, or low dissolved oxygen, is increasing in coastal waters worldwide and represents a significant threat to the health and economy of our Nation’s coasts and Great Lakes. This report discusses the causes and impacts of hypoxia, means of addressing the problem, and federal research on the issue.
Timber harvesting, increases in agricultural and urban lands, and the lack of protective environmental practices have led to excess sediment and nutrients washed into the Bay. When sediment, which is composed of loose particles of clay, silt, and sand, becomes suspended, it makes the water cloudy and reduces the amount of sunlight that reaches the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) that provides habitat and stability to the bay. The reduction in water clarity in the Bay has lead to a drastic decline in SAV over the past 30 years and this coupled with poor water quality, leaves the Chesapeake Bay classified as an “impaired water body”.
Extensive scientific research documents that vegetated strips of land along waterways provide extensive water quality and other environmental and economic benefits.