The key to clean water resources is conserving and restoring forests, according to a report released this month.


The report, Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, was published by the Washington D.C.-based World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with the Manomet Center and Earth Economics.


“We set out to provide a roadmap to build on the growing movement of those who champion natural infrastructure efforts in their watersheds,” said Todd Gartner, senior associate at WRI. “This guide can be a go-to resource for water leaders across the United States.”


Manomet Program Manager Ethel Wilkerson authored a chapter of the report and a case study of the Clear Water Carbon Fund. That program allows people and businesses to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing trees that are planted in deforested watersheds. The trees sequester carbon, keep the water resource clean and provide wildlife habitat.


The Fund works extensively in the Sebago Lake watershed, which provides water to the city of Portland, Maine, and was a focus of the report.


The publication noted that the Portland Water District recently voted to scale up investments in conservation easements to maintain its high water quality standards and avoid the costs of building a treatment plant.


“Water utility boards often understand dollars and concrete better than they understand habitat and hydrology. So advocating for natural infrastructure investment can be a challenge in the face of competing infrastructure needs your board is considering,” Paul Hunt, environmental manager for the Portland Water District said in a press release.


View the report here.


Dave McGlinchey