Keeping water clean: How National Forests in Choctaw County contribute to drinking water

From press reports 

Water is one of the most important natural resources flowing from forests.  One-fifth of our nation’s entire clean drinking water comes from national forests thanks to the 1911 Weeks Act which led to the creation of the 52 national forests, including those in Mississippi including Tombigbee National Forest and Choctaw Lake.

Conservation stewardship actions can promote healthy and sustainable water and watersheds that are fundamental to the health of people and ecosystems.

The Forest Service manages the largest single source of water in the United States, with about 18 percent originating from 193 million acres of land.  This source of fresh water provides drinking water to 180 million people every day.  Mississippi’s national forests provide surface water supply to areas throughout the state.

According to the National Forests leaders, maintaining and restoring watersheds were the primary reasons for establishing national forests.  Watersheds include streams, lakes, and shallow aquifers that store and convey water, as well as the land surfaces from which water drains, and the aquatic ecosystems that they support.  The Forest Service’s ‘watershed’ includes the areas of watershed restoration, water rights, water quality, hydrology, ground water, riparian zones, and wetlands.  The management of the water resources are based on a watershed scale where a defined boundary can be determined and management practices are evaluated for their effects.    

The National Forests provide a source for groundwater re-charge where water is extracted for human consumption and hydroelectric power.  Water related recreational activities are provided on multiple lakes and streams including those at Choctaw County Lake. The National Forests also play a pivotal role in anchoring many aquatic species and maintaining biodiversity.  Many rare and endangered aquatic species can be found within the streams of the National Forests.