Groundwater is a vital source of water that sustains both ecosystems and human communities worldwide. Wetlands, springs, rivers, and lakes often receive inflow from groundwater. Groundwater also provides late-summer flow for many rivers and creates cool-water upwellings critical for aquatic species during the summer heat.​​​​
Fens—wetlands fed by groundwater—support many rare and threatened species and can be a source of water in an otherwise dry landscape. Groundwater is also the only water source for springs and subterranean ecosystems, which harbor distinctive and poorly understood fauna.
Groundwater-dependent ecosystems and species (GDEs) contribute to human well-being by storing and purifying water. However, there are many pressures on groundwater, including pumping for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses. Groundwater also can be contaminated by pesticides, nutrients from wastewater or agricultural run-off, and industrial chemicals. These pressures are increasing, especially as many surface water bodies decline in availability and quality.
Despite the importance of groundwater to aquatic biodiversity, there is little information describing the types and distributions of groundwater-dependent ecosystems across the Pacific Northwest, or indeed worldwide.
The Nature Conservancy in Oregon is working to conserve groundwater-dependent ecosystems. We have mapped the locations of these ecosystems across the state and identified the activities that threaten them. We are also now developing and testing approaches that will protect groundwater for biodiversity conservation while at the same time meeting human needs, both in Oregon and beyond. Check out the links above, and also navigate to our work on setting Environmental Flows and Levels for groundwater-dependent ecosystems.










Links below this line are automatically generated and may not directly relate to work in Oregon.


 Key Resources