Why Small Streams are Important

Environmental, Legislative

Posted on February 16th, 2017

2017 Long Session Photo
Protection of headwater streams is vital to protecting downstream water quality

There has been a move over the past several years by leadership at the North Carolina General Assembly to roll back protections for small streams.

Conservation groups all agree these attacks will be back this session. While small streams (those that your child could jump across) may seem meaningless to overall water quality, they are in fact the streams most in need of protection.

Here’s a few reasons why:
1) Of the streams that supply public drinking water systems, 56% are intermittent, ephemeral, or headwater streams. That’s over 7K miles out of 13K miles of streams.
2)Headwater streams are a major source of food for downstream aquatic ecosystems, accounting for between 50% and 70% of the aquatic life found in our watersheds.
3) Headwaters are crucial for protection of biodiversity. For example, at least 51 families and 145 genera of aquatic insects have been collected over three decades of sampling in eight North Carolina headwater streams.

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