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Groundbreaking Nature Conservancy Study & Interactive Online Maps Reveal Drinking Water Sources For 25 Million Californians

Statewide website puts source-to-tap info at fingertips for residents of 492 cities & towns

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Nature Conservancy in California today unveiled a groundbreaking study and online resource that for the first time offers millions of Californians a one-stop website where they can learn the sources and levels of protections of their drinking water. 

The "Where Does California's Water Come From?" study is the most extensive and detailed ever done on where the state's surface water originates and how protected the land is in the watersheds that supply it. Eighty-two percent of the water supplied by public water districts for domestic and other uses comes from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and other surface water sources.

Overall, California requires nearly 157 million acres of land and multiple watersheds spanning eight states to collect and deliver drinking water. While water sources vary from city-to-city, much of our in-state surface water originates in the snowpack of the Sierra Nevada, whose runoff into rivers and streams provides drinking water to 65 percent of Californians.

"The study is the first to aggregate California's drinking water information at such a large-scale, and in an interactive and user-friendly way," said Kirk Klausmeyer, a San Francisco-based Nature Conservancy scientist and co-author of the study. "The maps enable residents across the state to understand the status of their local water sources, a key first step in taking action to protect these vital resources."

Although clean, healthy water is widely acknowledged as California's "most precious resource," integral to residents' well-being as well as to the state economy, tracking down water source information has frequently been a burdensome process. Information on California's drinking water sources was often separated into unique watersheds and managed by different entities, making it difficult for consumers to find clear and easily accessible information on where their water comes from.

Now, both in the study and in interactive features at the Conservancy's new California website,, millions of Californians for the first time are able at one site to track the path of their water from source to tap.  Twenty-five million Californians in nearly 500 California cities and towns across the state can type in their city and click through screens that feature photos, data and interactive maps on where their water originates.  At the site, they can also read the data and analysis contained in the study itself, and take a "Think You're an Expert?" quiz to test their water knowledge.

The site is a growing resource with additional cities and towns being added regularly, expanding the data base and the number of watershed maps to reach even greater numbers of Californians.

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