The Value of Water

3.7 billion dollars: that is the value of clean water within three watersheds of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape.

It’s hard to believe that this huge number represents the true value of water in just four counties. Imagine, it would take thirty years to count to one billion if you did so around the clock. So, how can water be so valuable? Because of Ecosystems Services Benefits — the flow of benefits from ecosystems to people over given extents of space and time.

Certainly, no dollar figure can reflect the full value of the natural resources that make the Laurel Highlands region such a unique place to live, work, and play. Ecosystem services benefits are about human welfare rather than nature for its own sake: physical and mental health, potable water, climate change mitigation, fishing, boating, swimming, beer and food production, just to name a few examples.

The valuable water resources of the region deserve protection and, in many cases, require restoration. The 2019 study, “Valuing Clean Water, Ecosystem Service Values in the Loyalhanna-Conemaugh and Youghiogheny River Watersheds of the Laurel Highlands Region,” is a thorough analysis of the ecosystem service benefits of water in the region through the lens of five major areas of impact: recreation, abandoned mine drainage, natural gas, agriculture and storm runoff, and sewage treatment.

The idea for this study came about in 2015 at a meeting of more than 15 people representing watershed associations, conservation districts, Trout Unlimited chapters, and others. It was completed by a steering committee of exceptionally committed and persistent individuals and managed by Mountain Watershed Association. Learn more about the importance of water resources by reading the Executive Summary.

Spread the word about the results of the Ecosystem Services study with these fact sheets designed to focus on key findings. Share them with decision-makers and stakeholders who want to better understand the importance of water to the region and the actions required to restore and protect it for the vitality of the region now and in the future.

Download fact sheet examples & template here