Ever wonder how we get the best, cleanest drinking water for everyone or what type of land cover/use provides the cleanest? Is it a watershed full of concrete, grass, or trees? What are the benefits of each one? If it is a forest, could we find one species of tree that gave us the best, cleanest drinking water?
These might seem like big or abstract thoughts - but they are important to think about in the big picture. The folks at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory and the US Forest Service help figure out the answer to these questions and more.
The “Coweeta Experimental Forest,” was established in 1934 near Otto, North Carolina in the Southern Appalachians. The site was later renamed the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Early research focused on establishing baseline measurements of climate, streamflow, and forest growth. Subsequent research established fundamental relationships among vegetation (for example, type, successional stage), soils, abiotic factors, and streamflow, further strengthening our understanding of the hydrologic cycle in watersheds.
Research at Coweeta represents a continuum of theory, experimentation, and application using watersheds as landscape units. The underlying philosophies that have guided their research include:
1. The quantity, timing, and quality of streamflow provides an integrated measurement of the success or failure of land-management activities
2. Good resource management is synonymous with good ecosystem management. Ecosystem response to disturbance has been a focal point for interpreting ecosystem behavior.
This Untamed Science video explores the Forest Service's Coweeta Experimental Forest, examines how watersheds provide drinking water, and investigates what land uses provide the cleanest water.