Nice, foggy, rainy weather….lots of water….the ground is frozen rock hard.   Entirely too much of that water is going to go running off into the rivers.  Actually, the rather interesting things, for those of us interested in this sort of thing, is that the ground is not frozen solid in the woods.  It is frozen of course, but it retains some ‘give’.  That is to say, anywhere with deep leaf litter has the capability to absorb the water connected to this warm spell despite the extreme cold that came before.  Lawns, hayfields, bare fields; those all might as well be impermeable bits of pavement right now.  Today there are no puddles in the woods, there are on lawns.*  There is also plenty of run-off from the frozen lawns, if there is any slant at all.  Eventually, of course, the sponge quality of the woods will be filled up and the intermittent streams will start to run; but it will take much more water to create an intermittent stream in the woods than one bordering a field, subdivision, or road.

We know that forests are better at recharging ground-water than developed areas.  The immediate assumption is that is solely due to the developed areas using the immediate water and having more impermeable surfaces such as roofs, patios, parking lots, etc.  But it is also due to the fact that forest areas are genuine sponges.  It would be interesting to do a storm-water comparison of two identical house-lots, with identical houses, and the only differences being that one has retained over half of its original tree-cover/topsoil and the other has it stripped to lawn.  I think the result would be sobering.

Water companies used to buy watersheds in this area to protect the water quality.  Inadvertently, and happily for all concerned, they have also helped to protect the amount of water available by doing that.   Of course, it still isn’t nearly sufficient; but it helps. 

Do water-wars exist in the east as well as the west?  Oh, yes indeed!  google: farmington, mdc, uconn, mansfield, etc. to see one in action.

*unless of course your lawn has decided to establish some nice colonies of what look like sphagnum moss, in which case the puddles disappear.