In the midst of our hectic daily routines, a picture story can sometimes provide the most efficient path to the essence of an idea or issue. These photographs are a visual depiction of the issues and concerns that residents across the West wrestle with as they consider the quality and quantity of their water.
Water is one of the most basic requirements for life. The forests that filter and store the water for these Western communities are complicated interwoven systems that we often take for granted until something happens. They can be affected by droughts, leading to insect epidemics, or wildfires or both. Post-wildfire, they can also be affected by too much water, triggering landslides and debris and ash flows. That, in turn, affects the reservoirs that store water for the dry months.
These photos include a sampling from watersheds across the Western states that are struggling with how to invest in this natural “infrastructure.” These are not unique, but rather represent a repeating pattern of issues confronting mayors, city councils, water utilities, landowners and managers. These photos, and their accompanying cutlines, provide a brief tutorial on what can happen, what can be done and why you should care before something happens to your watershed.