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A critical tool for protecting the quality of the nation's drinking water supplies is land conservation, according to a new report released today by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
The report, Protecting the Source, provides the scientific, economic, and public health justifications for land conservation as a critical strategy for protecting America's drinking water sources and recharge lands.
In making the case for protecting drinking water sources, the report summarizes research about drinking water and public health, the costs of not protecting water sources, and the management of watersheds. Protecting the Source also documents several best practices in drinking water source protection efforts from around the country.
While modern drinking water treatment can reduce most source water contaminants to acceptable levels before water is delivered to consumers, protecting drinking watersheds and recharge lands is emerging as a critical drinking water protection strategy, in part due to often-high costs of treatment.
Local governments, water suppliers and agencies, and community drinking water advocates either looking for effective source water protection strategies, or engaged in the practice and looking for reliable justification, will benefit from the report.
"For TPL, the conservation of land is about protecting places for people to enjoy, and that couldn't be more true than through conservation that also gives us clean, safe water to drink," said Will Rogers, president of TPL. "As costs for treating drinking water at the end-of-the-pipe become more prohibitive, water suppliers and water quality professionals can look to Protecting the Source for the best thinking about why land conservation is an effective solution."
"Protecting our precious source waters is critical if we're to maintain a safe and abundant drinking water supply," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of AWWA. "Land conservation can be an important component in a water supplier's plan for resource management."
"Land conservation has always been considered an excellent strategy for protecting drinking water sources," said Caryn Ernst, TPL Land & Water program manager and the report's author. "This report gives drinking water professionals the economic and public health justifications behind that argument and best practices to guide implementation."
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, is the only national non profit working exclusively to protect land for people as parks, gardens, and open spaces, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.
The American Water Works Association is the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy to improve the quality and supply of drinking water in North America and beyond. AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world.