I recently learned that OWASA is considering clear cutting and thinning out of large parcels of woodlands that it owns, in order to preserve water quality.

OWASA’s hired expert True North Forest Management Services has a website that prominently displays the article : “How to get the best price for your timber”. I know that OWASA wants this to be revenue neutral, but this was worth noting. According to this expert, there would be a “maintenance schedule for each tract, beginning with the removal of damaged, old and low-quality trees, like red maples, dogwood and beech. Other steps could include controlled burns, herbicide application and reforestation.” I shudder to think that my red maples and dogwoods in my backyard are poor quality and pose a problem for water quality.

What do herbicide applications, controlled burns, and chopping down trees have to do with improved water quality?

Studies from literally all over the country, specifically California, have looked at logging and its effects on water quality: I summarize:
• Increased sedimentation, nutrient loading
• Increased stream temperature
• Injury to fish, amphibian and other wildlife populations
• Water yield changes
• Increased high flows from storms and spring run-off
• Decreased low flows in summer, negatively affecting riparian and aquatic habitat

And in some studies, even drier conditions are created by deforested areas because complex mechanisms of photosythesis and reflection of energy are disrupted.

I know OWASA is trying to do the right thing, but I encourage and and advise them to please do more major research prior to a final plan. Please consider minimizing or eliminating the destruction of our forests in the name of water quality. There MUST be another way.


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