Water Quality

The French Broad River and its tributaries are critical natural resources in our region which provides drinking water for over 1 million people, recreational opportunities, rich natural heritage and sustainable economy.  RiverLink works to protect this resource through improving water quality throughout Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe, and Madison Counties through implementing stream restorations and stormwater quality features, and protecting riparian areas in permanent conservation easements.

Water Quality Economics and Benefits

Estimating the benefits of water quality programs instituted under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) is one of the requirements faced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is also an integral part of the Agency’s ongoing process to evaluate the contribution of its water quality programs to society. As a result, estimating the benefits of environmental regulation is one of the many procedural methods EPA uses to determine how it can be more effective in addressing the needs of society. To support these objectives, EPA has initiated a program to improve the data and methods used for estimating the benefits of its water quality programs.

A Benefits Assessment of Water Pollution Control Programs Since 1972: Part 1, The Benefits of Point Source Controls for Conventional Pollutants in Rivers and Streams (PDF)
The analysis is developed along three dimensions for each waterbody:

  1. the type of waterbody affected,
  2. the pollutants covered by the CWA that are released into the waterbody, and
  3. the services received by users of the waterbody.

This study covers:

  1. the nation’s primary rivers and streams;
  2. conventional pollutants; and
  3. recreational services.

Improving the Practice of Benefit Transfer: Preference Calibration Approach (PDF)
This document describes a proposed methodology for improving the way that available valuation information is used to develop benefits estimates.

A Retrospective Assessment of the Costs of the Clean Water Act: 1972 to 1997 (PDF)
This study assesses the magnitude of costs of reducing water pollution incurred under the Clean Water Act in recent years. The approach taken in this study is to estimate not only recent nationwide costs of water pollution abatement but also to simulate and deduct from these estimates water pollution control costs that would have been incurred without the passage of the Clean Water Act.

The Benefits of Clean Water Influence the Daily Lives of Children and Adults, and Impact the Quality of Life in a Community for Generations to Come

The benefits of clean water and having plenty of safe water to drink are well known. Most of us have experienced the feeling of not getting enough water; when we feel sluggish and light-headed from being dehydrated.

Many common health problems can be avoided by all of us if we simply drink more water.

Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water helps to flush out wastes from our bodies.

Water is a transport medium for the nutrients our bodies need.

Body temperature (perspiration) is regulated by the amount of available water in our bodies.

Water also regulates the pH balance and supports a multitude of physiological processes.

Being well hydrated elevates our energy levels and can help alleviate headaches.

Severe dehydration causes a multitude of health problems, not the least of which are fatigue, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, weakness, and loss of energy.

But some people have plenty of water to drink. Take the rain forest, for instance. Water is everywhere, but people still suffer from a lack of safe, clean water. The water they find to drink is often unsafe for them to consume. See “Water-borne Diseases.”


So what they need is not just any water, but they need to experience the benefits of clean water! Clean, clear and safe water.

So, what do we mean when we use the term “clean water”? In the context of this website, we are referring to water that is safe for human consumption. “Safe” water is also a good definition. Safe water must be free from disease-causing pathogens. But water that is free of pathogens may still be clouded by sediment.

Water that is fit for human consumption must be clean and clear. It must be water that does not have offensive odor or color, making it undesirable and unpalatable, and deterring people from drinking it. It must be desirable to drink it and people must have confidence that they can give it to their family with certainty that they are giving them water that is fresh, clean, clear, healthy and safe.

Access to safe, clean water opens up a world of possibilities for community development. Without water, the most basic element of life, all other development efforts will hit a brick wall.

Sanitation and hygiene, working together with a source of clean water create lasting community health and sustained human growth and development.

Just the simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease. When coupled with the use of adequate sanitation facilities and a dependable source of clean water, the multiplied effects are even greater.

As a child, disease from lack of water, sanitation and hygiene carries over into the schoolhouse. A child’s education is affected by an increase in absenteeism, decrease in cognitive potential, and increased attention deficits. Young girls often stop going to school if the school lacks adequate sanitation facilities.

With the benefits of clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene in place, educated individuals grow up to be enterprising adults, who become the owners of businesses, as well as corporate, community and national leaders.

From the early years of life, throughout childhood and into adulthood, water is the common beneficial factor determining the quality of life and the possibilities of the future.


Report a Problem

Do you have a water quality concern to report? There are many professionals that monitor the water quality and streams in our region. We wor[...]

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RiverLink Projects

In efforts to improve the water quality within the French Broad River Watershed, RiverLink has spearheaded numerous water quality projects t[...]

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WaterRICH- Water Recycling, Infiltration, and Conservation for the Home Do you want to reduce your potable water use? Improve rain water man[...]

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StormWater Facts

Stormwater: Why All the Fuss? Stormwater is rain and snow that runs off solid surfaces such as parking lots, roads, and roofs and then empti[...]

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Invasive Species

RiverLink works to improve water quality, healthy ecosystems and riparian zones enable nature to do her work best. In conjunction with many [...]

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"The French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world."

Blue Ridge Heritage National Heritage Area