Quantifying the role of State and private forest lands in providing surface drinking water supply for the Southern United StatesThis article contains other documents. View all titles contained within this article here.
Forests provide the most stable and highest quality water supplies among all land uses. The Southern United States is heavily forested, and most of the forests are owned and managed by State and private entities, thus it is critical to understand the role of forest lands in providing water across the region, the fastest growing in the Nation. We quantified surface water supply originating on State and private forest (SPF) lands in the 13 Southern States at the 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code watershed scale, using the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) hydrologic model. Water originating on seven forest ownership types was tracked through the river network and linked to a database of surface drinking water intakes to quantify the population served by water from SPF lands across the South. We found that the area of SPF lands was 44.2 percent of the total land area and that SPF lands contributed 44.3% of the 836 billion m3 yr-1 total available surface water supply in the region. Of the 7,582 surface drinking water intakes in the study area, 6,897 (91.0 percent) received some portion of their water from SPF lands, with 4,526 (65.6 percent) receiving >20 percent of their water from SPF lands. Approximately 55.3 million people in the South and 1.8 million people outside the 13 Southern States derived some portion of their surface water supply from SPF lands. These results highlight the importance of southern State and private forests in providing drinking water to downstream communities.
Storymap: Benefits of State and Private Forest Lands for the South
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Alabama (excerpts from App. A and B)
Arkansas (excerpts from App. A and B)
Florida (excerpts from App. A and B)
Georgia (excerpts from App. A and B)
Kentucky (excerpts from App. A and B)
Louisiana (excerpts from App. A and B)
Mississippi (excerpts from App. and B)
North Carolina (excerpts from App. A and B)
Oklahoma (excerpts from App. A and B)
South Carolina (excerpts from App. A and B)
Tennessee (excerpts from App. A and B)
Texas (excerpts from App. A and B)
Virginia (excerpts from App. A and B)