Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Even a Mile of Forest Makes a Difference in Water Quality


Chattooga River in the Nantahala National Forest, NC. Photo Credit: Bill Lea

Results from a small-scale experiment in western North Carolina illustrate the importance of National Forest lands in ensuring high water quality in the Southern Appalachian region. Conducted by scientists from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), the study, published in the January 2006 issue of the journal Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, showed that the quality of water in streams from an area heavily affected by urbanization was significantly improved by its passage through streams flowing in undeveloped forested areas.

For the experiment, Jim Vose and Barry Clinton, researchers from the SRS Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC, located a setting where a stream carried water from a small town into a fork of the Chattooga River while passing through National Forest land. They set up three sampling sites: the first below the town where the stream enters the National Forest, the second about a mile further down where the stream (now a fork of the Chattooga River) exits the National Forest, and the third reference site on a small, undisturbed stream which lies entirely in the National Forest.

"There’s a waste treatment facility a little over half a mile up from where the stream enters the National Forest," says Clinton. "We chose the first sampling site to pick up the cumulative effects of wastewater treatment and other non-point pollution sources such as housing developments, stormwater runoff, and roads."

Samples were collected weekly for over a year using automated samplers. Data was collected on water chemistry and total suspended solids, particles that range from soil to various types of organic matter. Coming from a wide range of sources, these solids increase after storms, the proportion of this increase one indication of conditions around a stream. The researchers also collected streamwater samples from all the sites to determine bacterial populations.

Findings showed a definite "cleaning" affect on the stream from passing through just a mile of National Forest, with evidence of significant reductions in concentrations of chemicals such as nitrates, ammonium, and phosphorous. In response to storms, total suspended solids increased to a higher level at the urban sampling site and stayed higher longer, probably due to more impervious surfaces and land disturbances that increase sediment loading into streams. Bacterial populations did not change much between the two sites, and, though differing greatly from those at the reference site, were well below standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Factors affecting water quality vary so greatly across landscapes, and we advise caution in applying the specific results of this study to all situations," says Vose. "But the patterns we observed do fit with those found in other studies, and suggest that stream sections in undeveloped forests can improve water quality in areas where the headwaters have been heavily affected by urbanization or other land uses."

For more information:
Barry Clinton at 828-524-2188 x124 or
Jim Vose at 828-524-2188 x114 or

Barry Clinton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>