water quality
wildlife habitat
flood control
aquifer recharge
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Functions and uses

Aquifer recharge

Some wetlands contribute to the filling of aquifers with water. This process is called aquifer recharge. An aquifer is a geologic substance that will transmit water to a well. Thus most people that live in the country and have a well or people that live in municipalities that obtain their water from the ground depend on aquifers for their water source. This particular wetland function has received less attention than other functions and therefore is probably one of the least understood wetland functions.

Wetlands generally have soils that limit the amount of water that can percolate into the ground or move through them. Therefore, in many wetlands aquifer recharge is limited. However, some studies indicate a substantial amount of recharge occurs around the edges of wetlands. In general smaller wetlands contribute relatively more water than larger wetlands to the underlying aquifer. While not all wetlands contribute to this function, in some areas such as the Prairie Pothole Region and the Playa Lakes Region, aquifer recharge from wetlands is substantial.

Liquid water becomes water vapor in the atmosphere.

Liquid water taken up by plant roots is diffused into the atmosphere through leaves and stems.

Water vapor returns to the earth.

Water flows over the soil surface and does not directly contribute to aquifer recharge.

Surface waters move down into the soil and helps to fill the aquifer with water.


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