How Trees Clean Water
Leah Feor | June 01, 2016 | 3 min read
Trees are designed by nature to hold and clean water, making them a vital part of any infrastructure whether it be in an urban or rural area. In a previous blog, How Planting Trees Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, we explained that mature trees help reduce runoff in urban settings. This prevents water from ending up in storm drains, and that reduces dependency on water treatment facilities. The benefits add up over time, since gallons of rainfall are diverted from treatment, saving time and energy.
While the planet is made up of two thirds water, and the human body contains about 60%, trees hold a little less, 50% of their weight in water.
how trees absorb water
Trees not only save rain water from ending up in the storm drains, trees also play a large role in our ecosystems watershed. A watershed is an area of land that catches the water which then makes its way into streams, rivers, lakes, and ultimately to the sea.
After a period of heavy rainfall or flash flooding, trees will absorb a large part of the rainfall, which reduces the negative environmental impact. These trees will then release water back into the earth and atmosphere over time rather than all at once.
This unique system allows trees to absorb water through the leaves – sending it off into the air as oxygen and water vapor – and also pushing the water down through its roots, filtering out harmful substances as it flows into our groundwater.
how trees prevent soil erosion
In addition to helping to absorb rainfall and to clean the water, trees' unique root system is holding everything together underground, preventing soil erosion.
Why is erosion prevention important? Because at a time when sea levels are rising and people are living on the water’s edge, erosion prevention is crucial to help reduce landslides and land losses, which can have devastating consequences to both the environment and the local community.
One small act such as planting a tree can play a part in mitigating the consequences of natural disasters. Keep in mind though; you need to do the act before the benefits appear. So go ahead and plant a tree, or perhaps gift a tree to a loved one. After all, it’s an investment that costs far less than an umbrella, and it will help shelter us from some of the biggest storms.