The study found that only 16 percent of the watersheds that supply drinking water to Californians are fully protected from human threats. A little over half of the watersheds are under public management and have some level of protection. The remaining third is privately owned with variable levels of protections. Cities and towns around the state vary greatly in the level of protection found in their watersheds—from 27 to 89 percent.
Klausmeyer said that he hopes the study helps illuminate for California consumers not only how far their water travels from source to tap, but also how vital the state's water supply is—and how vulnerable.
"Trees help keep sediment and pollution from flowing into our waters, and help to slow down rainwater, allowing more water to seep into underground water supplies," he said. "Improved land management of Sierra forests, grasslands and river-adjacent 'riparian' habitat will enhance state water resources."
The full name of the study is "Where Does California's Water Come From? Land conservation and the watersheds that supply California's drinking water." The study draws together National Hydrology Datasets, State Department of Public Health Drinking Source Assessments, and 2010 Census information—all to create a standardized, user-friendly examination of Californians' drinking water sources.The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org. SOURCE The Nature Conservancy