Saving Forests Can Mean Clean Water for Cities

Cities around the world could save billions of dollars on water-treatment plants if they dedicated resources to protecting nearby forests, which naturally filter and purify drinking water, according to a new report by the World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank. Researchers came to this conclusion after studying 105 metropolitan areas in both developing and developed countries. WWF cited the example of New York City, which in 1997 decided against constructing a new water-filtration plant that would have cost as much as $8 billion to build and $500 million per year to operate; instead, the city resolved to improve forest protections in the Catskills and Delaware watersheds, an effort that is costing only $1 billion to $1.5 billion over a decade. “By securing the source of the water, by investing in the health of the environment through these protected areas, we can make a big difference to people’s lives,” said Jamie Pittock, director of WWF’s Living Waters program.