Water Quality and Water Supply


Water Quality

Wetlands help maintain and improve the water quality of our nation's streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries. When erosion filled runoff passes through wetlands, much of the sediment load drops out. Because most of the sediment was filtered out in the wetland, cleaner water will flow into the water treatment plant, and result in lower processing costs for consumers. Wetland Plants also remove, or transform pollutants. They can absorb tons of nitrates, phosphates, and ammonia daily. And, in a process called Photosynthesis, wetland plants add much needed oxygen to both the water and the air. Scientists have estimated that a 2,500 acre wetland in Georgia saves that state at least $1 million in water pollution control costs, annually.


Water Supply

Wetlands act as reservoirs for a watershed. Storm water that has been stored in spongy wetland soils is later released as needed, to maintain relatively constant levels of surface water and groundwater. In times of drought, this wetland function is especially valuable, in that it helps to maintain a continuous supply of water for drinking, for farming, and businesses.

Some wetlands also supply water to underground water bearing rock formations, called aquifers. Protecting the wetland protects the aquifer. Without constant replenishment of these aquifers, wells would run dry, and people would be forced to shoulder the burden of paying for connections to the public water systems.


The level of available ground water can be seriously depleted by draining and filling wetlands, and can result in large taxpayer expenditures when they have to turn to other sources for their water supply.





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