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Ecosystem services is a catch-all term for things water, in its natural setting, does for us. Generally, ecosystem services are broken into four categories:
Water, in the natural ecosystem, plays a vital role in providing all of these services. That means that, as well as planning for our own direct use of water (PDF, 602 KB), we need to make sure enough water — and enough good water — stays in the natural system to keep it healthy and intact.