The Soil / Water Relationship PDF Print E-mail

What's the Connection Among Soils, Compost, and Water?

How Compost Improves Soil and Water
  • Improves soil structure
  • Supplies slow-release nutrients to plants
  • Holds moisture and reduces erosion
  • Immobilizes and degrades pollutants

Soil degradation and water pollution are widely recognized as major environmental problems. Less widely recognized is that soil and water are interconnected.

A healthy soil provides a number of vital functions including the ability to store water and nutrients, regulate flow of water, and neutralize pollutants.

The disturbance, compaction, and degradation of soils from human activity impacts soil structure and reduces its ability to provide these functions. When native soils are removed or eroded, soil organic content is reduced, soil structure declines, and the biological activity of the soil decreases — all resulting in poor water filtration and holding capacity. Soil erosion in stormwater runoff contributes to poor water quality and compromised salmon habitat in nearby streams. When soil is unhealthy, management of healthy landscaping becomes dependent on application of herbicides and pesticides which also runs off, further damaging adjacent ecosystems.

Native soil retains water and protects the environment

Disturbed soil impedes absorption

For more information on the connection between soil quality and water resources and water quality, visit WORC's Soils for Salmon website.


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Soils for Salmon

The Soils for Salmon project, begun by WORC in 1999, has spread awareness that the health of salmon and all our water resources depends on how we treat the soil, especially in developing urban and suburban areas. The project promotes "BMP's" (best management practices) for protecting native soil and restoring disturbed soils with compost. Learn more about soil, water, and current best practices regulations and specifications for builders, developers, designers, and homeowners at

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