EnviroAtlas Benefit Category: Clean and Plentiful Water

Ecosystems provide water resources

 Stressors to water quality and quantity

 Health impacts and benefits

  • Clean and plentiful water resources are needed for every aspect of life. Humans require safe, potable water for drinking, food preparation, and simple everyday uses.
  • Though most U.S. municipal water resources are typically treated before consumption, maintaining clean water resources helps minimize the need for and cost of this treatment. For instance, the New York City drinking water supply system is the largest unfiltered water supply in the U.S., which is made possible through strict watershed protection measures. This protected natural system has saved the state am estimated $8 - $10 billion in avoided water treatment costs4.
  • Municipal water sources are typically treated only for those contaminants that we are aware of, thus making natural filtration by ecosystems beneficial in adding a level of protection. Contaminated water that is not adequately treated may result in waterborne disease outbreaks or serious health issues as a result of chemical or metal contaminants.
  • Abundant water resources are used to grow crops, to water feed animals, and to process much of the food that we consume.
  • Water resources are also used to produce power (e.g., thermoelectric, hydroelectric, nuclear) and are essential to the production of most of the material goods that people enjoy.
  • Clean and abundant water resources are also needed for plant and animal survival. Wetland-dependent and aquatic species require aquatic habitats all or part of the year. These rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands are also visually pleasing and provide opportunities for people to fish, hunt, and relax.
  • The regulating and filtration services provided by natural resources help maintain a clean and plentiful water supply for the entire nation.
  • For more information on the health benefits of clean and plentiful water, explore the Clean Water portion of the Eco-Health Relationship Browser.


  1. US Army Corps of Engineers. 2008. Water Supply: Value to the Nation.Exit Accessed February 2013.
  2. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005. Agricultural Nonpoint Source Fact Sheet. Accessed February 2013.
  3. International Rivers. Environmental Impacts of Dams.Exit Accessed February 2013.
  4. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Facts about the NYC Watershed.Exit Accessed February 2013.