Technical Bulletins & Special Reports

Technical Bulletin No. 0960: Water Profile of the United States Forest Products Industry

The intersection between water resources and forest products operations in the United States is considered. The profile includes the quantity of water potentially impacted by forest management for sourcing of wood and fiber as well as water used during manufacture of wood, pulp, and paper products. The influence of forest management and forest products manufacture on water quality is also discussed. Most fresh water in the U.S. originates in forested areas. While forest management for timber harvest has the potential to alter the fate and quality of water entering the forest via precipitation, responsible harvesting strategies, best management practices, and forest regrowth combine to minimize or eliminate changes in water availability and degradation of water quality over the landscape. Relative to alternative land uses and large-scale disturbance events, forested areas produce the highest quality of fresh water. Water inputs for the manufacture of forest products equal about 0.4% of the surface and groundwater yield from timberland in the U.S. Approximately 88% of this water is treated and returned directly to surface waters, about 11% is converted to water vapor and emitted during the manufacturing process, and 1% is imparted to products or solid residuals. Extensive study and continued monitoring of treated effluents suggests few or no concerns regarding the compatibility of these effluents with healthy aquatic systems.