Small is good

Two studies released this fall highlight the importance of small headwater streams to water quality and land use decisions – streams that often get overlooked, covered up or just plain ignored in maps and regulations.

The first, by scientists at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, generated high resolution maps of the entire Potomac River watershed (and surrounding watersheds) and revealed for the first time the dense network of small headwater streams that make up much of the Chesapeake Bay region.

The second, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), synthesizes the results of more than 1,000 scientific studies documenting that small, intermittent and ephemeral streams are connected physically, biologically and chemically to rivers downstream.  Once finalized by EPA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, these findings could influence how the Clean Water Act applies to small waterways.

You can read about both of these studies on my blog postings for The Downstream Project.

(Featured photo credit:  ForestWander via Creative Commons)

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