News & Articles: Water Market

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Harvey

How The Restoration Economy Can Help Us Withstand The Next Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey reminded us just how vulnerable low-lying cities like Houston are in a climate-changed world – especially when we degrade the living ecosystems that regulate floods and absorb greenhouse gasses. Fortunately, we have plenty of tools we can use to develop the “green infrastructure” needed to help us navigate the new reality of life in the Anthropocene.

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Is Philly Building a $438-Million Stormwater Market?

In an effort to make its stormwater management program more efficient, the city of Philadelphia is implementing a new pricing structure that rewards companies for greening their properties. To make it as palatable as possible, they are also looking to see if financing mechanisms pioneered in renewable energy can be used here.  Second in a series.

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To Keep Their Water Flowing,
Peruvians Put Money Into Mountains

Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on clean drinking water from mountain streams, and those streams are increasingly at risk. The Peruvian Ministry of Environment and Forest Trends have responded with an innovative partnership designed to support a healthy mountain economy that keeps the water flowing – in Peru and around the world.

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Water Trading Can Save Billions
On Chesapeake Bay Cleanup: Study

The Chesapeake Bay is on life support, and the medical bills are hefty – with some estimates approaching $1.5 billion per year just to reduce runoff to a manageable level.  A new study says that water-quality trading can slash costs by more than 75% – but only if the types of buyers is expanded beyond cities and factories.

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USDA to Launch Water Quality Network in September

Scores of water-quality trading programs are under development across the United States, but few have reached the operational stage and most are limited to parts of watersheds within specific jurisdictions.  The USDA is changing that with targeted funding for programs that develop market-infrastructure and a support network to be operational by September.

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42 Earth Days
40 Years of Ecosystem Markets

Today we celebrate the 42nd Earth Day – an event that also marks nearly 40 years of ecosystem markets.  Here’s a look at some of the highlights we’ve achieved since April 22, 1970.  We’ll leave the low-lights for another day.

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This Week in Water:
Digging In To Food Security

It’s been a big month for water. In early March, decision-makers from around the world convened for the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles. Next, we celebrated World Water Day, which took as its theme this year the water-food security nexus. Then on March 29th, the Clean Water Act officially hit middle age, turning 40. We provide coverage of all these highlights in April’s Water Log.

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Clean Water Act Turns 40

Water quality in the United States has come a long way since 1969, when Ohio’s Cuyahoga River became so full of pollution that it literally caught on fire – one of those seminal events that helped spur the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency one year later and the creation of the landmark Federal Water Pollution Control Act, better known as the Clean Water Act two years after that.  The CWA turns 40 this year.

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Supreme Court Rules Against EPA in Wetlands Case

The US Environmental Protection Agency has long responded to violations of the Clean Water Act by issuing administrative compliance orders, which can’t be challenged until the EPA initiates enforcement actions. But last week the Supreme Court found in favor of an Idaho couple who argued that they shouldn’t have to wait til enforcement to get their day in court.

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US Government Supports Private-Public Water Solutions Worldwide

Water shortages threaten to undermine economic growth and spark conflicts around the world, and agriculture uses 70% of the world’s water.  In response, the US State Department is spearheading the development of a global alliance of governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations aimed at harnessing new technologies for water management around the globe.

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A Look at the Links Between Water, Food Security, and Ecosystems

The theme of this year’s World Water Day, water and food security, calls our attention to growing – and interlinked – pressures on agriculture, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Here, we offer a brief introduction to the water and food security challenge and some innovative solutions.

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Labels, Markets, and the Law: Salmon Scores a Triple

Ecosystem markets and eco-labeling both aim to incentivize good environmental behavior, and now they’ve been combined into the “Incentives Trifecta”, which aims to promote good stewardship of salmon habitat by using eco-labels to drive consumer demand, ecosystem markets to provided additional income, and regulatory assurances to provide a degree of security. 

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Watershed Connect: The Simple Way to Find Watershed Solutions

Waterbodies like lakes and streams are only as healthy as the watersheds in which they nest, and the consequences of poor watershed management have been devastaing in terms of life and expensive in terms of livelihoods.  A new platform aims to promote water solutions by making it easier to invest in ecological infrastructure. 

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Indigenous Groups Launch Ground-Breaking Environmental Regime

The Brazilian state of Acre has implemented a comprehensive legal framework to support compensation and payments for ecosystem services, and indigenous groups are among the first to begin implementing it. Here’s a look at how the program is being rolled out.

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Valuing the Arc: Five-Year Experiment Draws to a Close

The downward flow of water from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa generates up to half of Tanzania’s power and provides much of Dar es Salaam’s drinking water. As agriculture moves up the slopes, however, it destroys the natural ecosystems that support the ancient catchments.  A five-year effort to value those ecosystem services wraps up this month.

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USDA Offers Grants in Support of Water Quality Trading

Scores of water-quality trading programs are under development across the United States, but few have reached the operational stage and most are limited to parts of watersheds within specific jurisdictions.  The USDA aims to change that with targeted funding for programs that develop market-infrastructure and cross-border trading.

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Major Corporates Come Clean on Forest Risk; Big Oil Doesn’t

Companies around the world depend on products that either come from or relate to forests, but few have quantified their dependence.  That’s changing as more and more companies examine their supply chains – with surprising implications for the future of forests and corporate profitability

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This Week in Water:
Feds Stepping up Support For Water Quality Markets

The Forest Trends team is hard at work to build a new online platform focused on all things watershed payment-related.  And the rest of the water world is plenty busy too: this month, the US federal government is taking some decisiove action and Australia is debating the merits of a draft plan for the Murray-Darling Basin.

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Collins, Costanza, Others
Warn of Myopic Focus on Markets

Ecosystem markets have helped bring the value of nature’s services into our economy, but University of Oregon pioneer Robert Costanza and former Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets boss Sally Collins say we need to explore new mechanisms. That’s kicked up plenty of dust on the Ecosystem Commons.

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Writing the Rule That Will Rebuild the Bayou – With Carbon

Mangroves and coastal wetlands have long protected the Mississippi Delta from floods, but the degradation of those wetlands leaves the region more vulnerable to events like Hurricane Katrina. Carbon finance can help reverse the degradation – and new rules for developing bayou credits could make that finance possible.

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Supreme Court to Hear EPA Water Policy case on Monday

The US Environmental Protection Agency has long responded to violations of the Clean Water Act by issuing administrative compliance orders, which can’t be challenged in court until the EPA initiates enforcement actions.  An Idaho couple says that’s not fair, and their challenge has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.  The case is scheduled to be heard Monday.

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Ensuring Mitigation by Insuring Banks

Mitigation bankers are on the hook financially for projects that fail to deliver the promised environmental benefits, but the systems that cover financial assurance not only tie up cash but fail to generate payments that benefit the environment.  A new insurance mechanism may prove both more cost-effective and greener.  

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This Week in Water: Fill ‘er up!

After a brief hiatus, W.E.T. is back – and not a moment too soon! This month’s newsletter brings you the latest on market-based mechanisms for protecting water supply and flows from around the world.

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2011: The Year in Water and Wetlands

It was a turbulent year for water markets, with efforts to standardize offsetting procedures across jurisdictions gaining traction even as opponents of water markets – and, indeed, of environmental protection of any sort – dug in their heels as massive flooding along the Mississippi River underlined the economic value of healthy wetlands. Here is a look at some of our top water stories – and a chance for you to vote on your favorite water stories from all sources.

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Kenyan Cattlemen Map Watershed Services

Ranchers understand the importance of watershed services as well as anyone and better than most, which is why the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute decided to map watershed services in the arid and semi-arid lands that cover approximately 80% of Kenya.

US Feds Change Course: Will Let Florida Set Own Water Standards

In a dramatic reversal of stated policy, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called off its push for federally-imposed numeric water quality standards for Florida waterbodies, and instead gave a preliminary blessing to standards developed by state officials. 

US Feds Change Course: Will Let Florida Set Own Water Standards

In a dramatic reversal of stated policy, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called off its push for federally-imposed numeric water quality standards for Florida waterbodies, and instead gave a preliminary blessing to standards developed by state officials. 

US Feds Change Course: Will Let Florida Set Own Water Standards

In a dramatic reversal of stated policy, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called off its push for federally-imposed numeric water quality standards for Florida waterbodies, and instead gave a preliminary blessing to standards developed by state officials. 

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US Feds Change Course: Will Let Florida Set Own Water Standards

In a dramatic reversal of stated policy, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called off its push for federally-imposed numeric water quality standards for Florida waterbodies, and instead given a preliminary blessing to standards developed by state officials.

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China Uses Eco-Compensation
to Combat Water Shortages

As China expands economically, one of the largest resource constraints is clean drinking water, a problem being addressed in part by “eco-compensation.”  Now the central government is developing a nation Eco-Compensation ordinance.  A new paper out today details recommendations on what this new ordinance should look like.

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Tracking Water into the Forest

It is easy to forget that the water from our faucets has a long journey from its source to our homes, but that journey has a big impact on the cost of water treatment.  The healthier the watershed it flows through, the lower the cost of treatment.  Last week, the US Forest Service released maps highlighting the importance of forests in that journey.

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Can His Water Bank Help Montana Solve its Water Troubles?

The state of Montana has more outstanding water rights than it has water, and it’s taking a toll on the state’s streams and aquifers. Chris Corbin thinks a water bank specifically for mitigation can solve the problem.  If his idea works, it’ll be the latest in a series of projects in the West that use water rights markets to remedy environmental problems.

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Infrastructure: From Shades of Grey to Shades of Green

US President Barack Obama has called for a massive increase in spending to revive our crumblng built infrastructure, but he’s so far failed to mention the equally threatened and far more basic "green infrastructure" that provides our air, water, and food. Ricardo Bayon argues that a little bit of strategic investment here can go a long, long way.

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Rimba Raya Debacle Casts Pall Over Indonesian REDD

Bureaucratic machinations on the part of Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry have knocked the wind out of a pioneering forest carbon project that had become one of the first to attract big-league financing, lured in part by the promise of a profitable carbon market. Many are now left wondering about the future of REDD and its risky business.

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Cap-and-Trade Beats Slash-and-Shirk Any Day

Nobody wants a regulatory apparatus that is bloated, inefficient, and opaque, but most of us do want clean air, clean water, and a sustainable economy.  Ecosystem markets can support all of these goals in a way that’s lean, efficient, and transparent – something that self-described “fiscal conservatives” should be championing.  So, why aren’t they?

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New Tools Measure Corporate Water Risk

Climate change will one day wreak havoc on rivers, streams, and lakes – but today’s water shortages flow from sloppy land use and growing populations.  More and more corporations are beginning to take stock of their exposure to water risk, and in the process they are developing tools we can all use to manage this critical resource.  Here’s a look at some of them.

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Companies Plunging Head First into Water Risk Challenges

Water shortages could dampen corporate profits around the world, but that could actually be good for the world’s poor – if companies recognize that water risk is shared by all and use their clout to promote sustainable water stewardship.  Nearly 90% of companies in one survey said they recognize the risk, but few seem to agree on how to quantify it.

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Mississippi Learning:
Flood the Plains and Spare the Disaster?

This month’s flooding along the Mississippi River has introduced the term spillway into common vernacular as more and more of these reservoirs are flooded to stave off disaster It wasn’t that long ago, however, that natural wetlands did what spillways do today and they did it better, cheaper, and with more style It’s time to bring some of them back, and mitigation banking can help.

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Government Cutbacks Hit Mit Banks

Despite optimistic attendance at the National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference two weeks ago in Baltimore, mitigation banks face tough challenges.  The latest come in the form of government cut-backs, which threaten not only to derail infrastructure improvements, but to slow the project approval process.

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US Aims to Expand Wetland Protection

US Supreme Court decisions of the past decade have left wetland regulations unclear and unenforced.  New clean water guidance from the Obama administration aims to provide clarity and expand enforcement while not contradicting the decisions.  The result could be improved protection of drinking water – and expanded use of markets to aid that protection.

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Roundtable Hopes Inclusiveness Will Lead to Cohesion in New Zealand and Australia

Cash-strapped governments around the world are turning to mechanisms that preserve endangered species by incorporating the cost of habitat destruction into the cost of development. The Environmental Law Roundtable of Australia and New Zealand is building policy from the ground-up by making sure everyone is involved.

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Florida Ruling Supports Water Quality Trading

A US federal judge in Florida has ruled in favor of the federal EPA’s plan to impose numeric limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen running into the Everglades.  It’s not only a victory for the Everglades, but could open the door to innovative water-quality trading mechanisms down the road.

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This Week in Water: Bring on the Green

The Green vs Grey Infrastructure question has taken center stage with increasing evidence that investing in natural infrastructure has real economic and financial payoffs, in addition to the core ecosystem services benefits. This month’s newsletter looks at real data, tools and examples where policy makers are choosing green infrastructure solutions to improve water quality or quantity outcomes.

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New Guide:
Corporate Ecosystem Valuation

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has released its new Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV). The guide, the first major attempt to package approaches to ecosystem valuation specifically for business, offers private sector actors a framework for understanding how – and how much – their businesses depend on ecosystem services.

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Cities Central on World Water Day

 With 141 million urban residents worldwide lacking access to drinking water, World Water Day focused on the strain water supplies are feeling with growing populations.  The day allowed governments, organizations and corporations to highlight the innovative projects implemented around the world to assist cities as they combat the problems.

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Dual Lawsuits Threaten Innovative Water Quality Programs Across the US

In several US states, new water quality standards are setting clear targets and demanding accountability for pollution cleanup. Opponents, however, have filed legal challenges to two of the more ambitious efforts: one in Florida and the other in the Chesapeake Bay region.  The outcome could spur water quality trading across the United States – or stifle it.

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Army Corps Needs to Examine Rationale for Mitigation Territories

Mitigation bankers have long complained that different regulatory agencies apply different standards, and a study published late last year bears that out – at least when it comes to how the 38 districts of the Army Corps of Engineers determine the amount of territory individual mitigation banks should be allowed to cover.

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Can This Regional Experiment Offer a Template for Cross-Border Crediting?

In today’s economy, transactions in one part of the world often impact ecosystems far away.  Ecosystem markets, however, tend to be strictly local.  Now the  Willamette Partnership is experimenting with mechanisms that can at least deliver uniformity across borders, which will make for more efficient markets – and mitigation.

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The US South Can Protect Its Water By Paying To Protect Its Forests

Clean water doesn’t come cheap.  Communities and businesses often rely on expensive water filtration infrastructure to ensure their clean water supplies.  But communities around the world have been protecting upstream forests instead of building new, costly water treatment infrastructure.  Can this strategy work in the US south?