News Articles

This Week In Water: Breaking Down Nexus Silos

Businesses embrace the water energy nexus with innovative water-saving techniques and energy efficient measures. D.C. based non-profit, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, highlighted companies’ success stories in a recent report and event that took place in May. In other news, H&M’s water stewardship efforts in China face new challenges and the US West continues to practice water cooperation.

Businesses embrace the water energy nexus with innovative water-saving techniques and energy efficient measures. D.C. based non-profit, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, highlighted companies’ success stories in a recent report and event that took place in May. In other news, H&M’s water stewardship efforts in China face new challenges and the US West continues to practice water cooperation.

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.

2 June 2014 | Building sustainability in any business is difficult. It involves conserving natural resources like water and energy, which means altering the business model, spending money and testing new methods that may or may not work.

 

For the brewery MillerCoors, it involved teaming up with The Nature Conservancy to develop water efficient farming practices. The duo created a pilot project based on water conservation practices that saved 270 million gallons of water – enough to quench a family of four’s thirst for 1,850 years – in a one year period. The project was initiated soon after the brewing company realized 90 percent of its water use occurred in the company’s agriculture supply chains.


The initiative takes place in Idaho’s Silver Creek Valley, where much of the beer industry grows its barley. MillerCoors wanted to use less water in growing the crop without reducing yield. And they were able to accomplish that using techniques like precision irrigation, installing riparian plants streamside and wetland restoration and monitoring.

 

The efficient irrigation techniques also meant a reduction in energy use. Farmers were using less water which means they were using less power to pump water. The farm cut its energy use by more than half.

 

More and more companies are realizing the connection between water and energy and making various attempts to solve their version of the problem. Recent offerings from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation aim to encourage the private sector along, with a new collection of case examples of nexus solutions for business, and a guidance report outlining steps to manage interlinked water, energy, and food security risks. Read more about the USCCF’s work on nexus issues here.


In other news this month, understanding business water risk just got a little easier, with the announcement that WRI Aqueduct risk data will now be integrated into Bloomberg’s BMAP mapping platform available to Bloomberg Professional subscribers.

 

We also have two stories this month that do a nice job illustrating some of the complexities for businesses in implementing a “water stewardship” approach: A piece from UK-based Anglian Water’s CEO up at Scientific American gives us a look at how the water company’s thinking about water stewardship, which entails moving from a single-operator system to a more collective approach to governance of water resources. And an update on H&M’s water stewardship efforts in China highlights another challenge: the supply chain. Since H&M doesn’t own the factories where it’s working to implement efficiency and watershed protection measures (and in fact doesn’t have a direct relationship at all with many suppliers), they’re putting in a lot of legwork simply building trust and relationships.


It’s been a busy month in the US West. We summarize coverage of efforts to manage shortages in the Colorado River system through incentives: the “big four” urban areas relying on the basin – Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, and Phoenix – are contributing funds to pay farmers, industries, and municipalities in the basin to reduce their water use, in order to keep water in Lakes Mead and Powell above crisis levels.


As fire season begins in the western states, Ashland, Oregon has secured $350,000 for wildfire fuel treatments, thinning vegetation and removing deadwood that can fuel a high-severity wildfire. That’s likely to pay off for the city: an avoided cost analysis in California’s Upper Mokelumne Watershed suggests that the benefits of fuel treatments are worth two to three times their cost. And finally, we have updates on water quality markets in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Happy reading,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact newsletter@ecosystemmarketplace.com



EM Headlines

GENERAL

Pulling Down Nexus Silos in the Private Sector

Global demand for both water and energy is spiraling upward, with long-term implications for food security. Several private-sector initiatives have emerged to promote more coordination of energy and water issues – the focus of a recent convening and report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF).

“Companies are encouraged to better understand the interconnections and interdependencies of energy, water, and food, and the impacts on their business,” says Jennifer Gerholdt, the Director of Environment at USCCF. “Given how tightly linked these resources are, actions taken to alleviate pressures on one resource may result in negative consequences for the other resources.”


The CCF recently released a report, Achieving Energy and Water Security: Scalable Solutions from the Private Sector, that profiled a number of businesses securing water and energy supplies through innovative initiatives like MillerCoors’ partnership with TNC to support agricultural water conservation in Idaho, or a public-private partnership in the Dutch seaport city of Terneuzen involving The Dow Chemical Company and water company Evides in efforts to recycle municipal and industrial wastewater.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.


Farms, Forests, and Climate Change: Few Opportunities, Many Challenges

Farmers and foresters already face a great deal of uncertainty in their professions. All it takes is a few weeks of intense drought, a single hailstorm, or an uncontrolled wildfire to destroy the results of their labors, and with it, their livelihoods.

 

Even in the absence of these extreme events, relatively mild variations from year to year – a too-wet spring, an earlier-than-expected frost, or a hotter-than-normal summer – can significantly reduce their yields in sectors where the margin of profit is often thin.

 

So most farmers and foresters will take little comfort in the findings of the latest National Climate Assessment, which documents recent increases in the factors that jeopardize forests and agriculture, and projects that such risks will increase in the future. The report suggests that with careful planning, substantial resources, and more than a little luck, some new opportunities could emerge. But for the most part, farmers and foresters will probably struggle just to keep up with the ever-changing conditions they will face.

Get coverage.


EPA Releases New Tool For Mapping Ecosystem Services

Payments for ecosystem services rely on information that’s both trustworthy and accessible, but they’re often dogged by data that lacks both qualities. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a tool that delivers on the accessibility and transparency fronts by providing an incredibly easy-to-use interface for accessing more than 300 separate data layers of geographic, demographic, and environmental data across the United States.

 

Developed in collaboration with other federal and state agencies, including the the US Geological Survey and the US Forest Service, as well as universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), EnviroAtlas creates a map-based interface onto which data from an exhaustive matrix can be overlaid and analyzed. It can be used for everything from planning urban parks to identifying the best location for a new park to mapping the impacts of a new road.

Read about it here.


In The News

POLICY UPDATES

EU Auditors Looking for Better from CAP on Water

Water policy goals need to be better integrated into Europe’s common agricultural policy (CAP), says the European Court of Auditors (ECA). The group released a report this month that highlighted weaknesses and concerns in implementing water policy and achieving objectives. The auditors did find some positives too: the cross-compliance mechanism that links CAP payments with environmental requirements and rural development funding made a good impact and solidly supported water objectives. However, these tools are limited and fall short of meeting the new, more ambitious CAP water goals, the auditors say. They suggest modifications to these tools and using new instruments when applicable. Other recommendations include having more clear and concrete instructions for on-the-ground operations and also ensuring that the most up-to-date data regarding agricultural pressure on water is available.

Read a press release.


US Forest Service Proposes Groundwater Management Rules

Since it’s never been disproven that groundwater contributes to river flows, the US Forest Service is assuming it does. The agency has issued a proposal on groundwater management to preserve rivers and streams and ensure groundwater lasts into the future. The Forest Service is incorporating its proposed policy into the water resources management manual. Provisions include measuring and reporting all groundwater withdrawals as well as injected water and developing standards for the use and conservation of this freshwater source.

Read more at Circle of Blue.


Stormwater Management Gets Greener

Green infrastructure is becoming the norm for municipalities managing their combined sewer overflows (CSO). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) often incorporates green infrastructure into contracts over stormwater management while states and municipalities are encouraging the practice with incentives. EPA is in talks with 23 cities and towns over green infrastructure planning. And while a lack of funding remains an issue, municipalities are coming up with ways to finance new projects. In Michigan, for instance, where voters must approve millages (i.e. property taxes) and bond issues, cities are focusing on increasing voter awareness to grow their support for green infrastructure projects.

Bloomberg News has the story.


Maine’s Water Infrastructure Bill Has Natural Elements

The Maine legislature has carved out a place for natural infrastructure in its bill to improve water conditions in the state, including improvements to wetlands and water quality projects. The proposed bill is ambitious, with a long list of goals for clean water, flood and storm protection, wetland and stream restoration, job growth and other measures. As it stands, the cost of bringing Maine’s drinking water infrastructure into good repair reaches $540 million. If passed, the bill would activate a fund of $50 million to be spent on water that would also trigger a $25 million federal match. It would be a start in addressing that $540 million need – although a small one.

Learn more here.


GLOBAL MARKETS

Colorado River States Build Innovative Conservation Scheme

Water cooperation receives another boost as the big four urban water users of the Colorado River along with the Bureau of Reclamation launch the Colorado River System Conservation Program. The initiative’s goal is to prevent Colorado River water shortages by paying farmers, industries and municipalities to reduce their water use. These voluntary actions in theory can keep the river’s main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Powell, high enough to avoid a shortage.


It’s funded through the Bureau of Reclamation and regional water associations containing the four largest cities- Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver and Phoenix – that depend on the Colorado for their water supply. Each will contribute $2 million; Reclamation’s $3 million brings the total to $11 million. That isn’t much, but the plan is to increase funding and invest in more water-saving projects as the initiative evolves. For right now, focus is on laying groundwork for cooperation on a problem together that affects them all.

Read more at National Geographic News Watch.


Bloomberg Incorporates WRI Aqueduct Risk Data Into Mapping Platform

Most companies believe water risk challenges will worsen in the next five years. So it’s good news that the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Overall Water Risk Map is now available on Bloomberg’s interactive mapping platform BMAP, which is available to Bloomberg Professional subscribers. More businesses will have access to data on world water supplies and can make decisions accordingly. Aqueduct’s water risk map is incorporated into BMAP and calculates water risk based on a set of indicators covering quality and quantity of water in a given area and potential regulatory and reputational risks that could be associated with a region’s water.

Environmental Leader has coverage.


A Private Sector Guide to the Nexus

A new report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) offers a business-friendly introduction to the water-energy-food nexus, and summarizes USCCF research on best available guidance for building business resilience to interlinked water, energy, and food security risks. The Energy-Water-Food Nexus: Insights for the Business Community outlines steps companies can take to address nexus issues and some broader recommendations as well: namely, strengthening engagement between nexus experts and the business community, supporting development of a full integrated model for business of energy-water-food production (none currently exists), and improving knowledge about the role of ecosystem services in the nexus.

Get a copy of the report here.


In the Sierra Nevada, Benefits of Wildfire Fuel Treatments 2-3X Their Cost

Undertaking wildfire fuels removal to reduce wildfire risk and their attendant severe costs for water utilities

has become a popular model in the US West. But available funding pales in comparison to the number of acres still needing treatment, and it can be tough to make the economic case for dealing with a high severity wildfire that hasn’t happened yet.


A new report from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service comprehensively weighs the costs and benefits of a landscape-scale fuel treatments effort. The study examines the upper Mokelumne River watershed in the central Sierra Nevada, an important water source for the San Francisco Bay Area. Among the key findings: first of all, fuel treatments work, and their benefits are estimated at two to three times their costs. In the Moke, costs to public land managers are estimated at US $68 million, compared to $126-224 million in benefits accruing to the state, federal government, residential property owners, and utilities. Avoided costs associated with sedimentation are put at $1 million.


Following the study’s release, Carpe Diem West offers an interview with Kim Carr of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Dale Lyons, who had carried out earlier efforts at avoided cost analysis for the City of Sante Fe, discussing the research process and how other organizations might undertake avoided cost analyses of their own.

Read a copy of the Mokelumne avoided cost analysis report.
Read Carpe Diem West’s interview with Carr and Lyons.


Spring Trading in the PNW

The Willamette Partnership’s latest newsletter offers market updates for the Pacific Northwest’s Klamath, Rogue, and Willamette basin trading programs, all of which use the Partnership’s Ecosystem Credit Accounting System. Five projects have recently been verified in the Rogue basin marketplace, representing 15.5 acres and two miles of streambank restoration, which will keep the equivalent of 14,000 bathtubs of boiling water out of the river system this year.


Meanwhile in the Willamette Valley, the Calapooia project is expected to be verified this month, with another on track for early 2015. New projects are also in the works in the Klamath basin, where the Klamath Tracking and Accounting Program is currently enrolling pilots. And the Partnership is helping to support the first point-nonpoint trading program in California, in the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed in Sonoma County. The newsletter also provides an update on the recently formed National Network on Water Quality Trading, which the Partnership is leading along with the World Resources Institute.

Read the newsletter here.


Creating a Resilient Karachi

After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City, the state’s governor tasked a special commission to draw up a set of recommendations on how the city might increase its resilience to a changing climate that includes more extreme weather. The framework the commission created isn’t just about rebuilding infrastructure, but about rebuilding it in better and smarter ways. It focuses on integrating green and natural infrastructure into city planning.


Could a framework like this apply to Karachi – Pakistan’s most populous city and also a place exposed to urban floods, drought and extreme heat? An urban planner living in the city sees potential. The process for creating a framework for Karachi would have to include certain steps, however. For starters, the city’s infrastructure would have to be assessed and a wide group of stakeholders would need to be involved. A rising demand in safeguarding against climate change risks brought on by educating city residents of the hazards would also have to happen.

Learn more from the Express-Tribune.


Anglian Water Talks About Its Water Stewardship Strategy

A new post at Scientific American from Anglian Water CEO Peter Simpson takes a look at the challenges that water companies face in a changing climate. In some places Anglian Water must contend with too little available water, and in others too much, as flooding risks will increase in the coming decades. These trends amplify existing friction between the water company and agricultural and environmental uses.


In response, Anglian Water has partnered with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership to develop water stewardship strategies working with other water users to better manage resources. “There are financial, environmental and social opportunities from a collective approach” that shifts from a water company-owned and operated system to a new model, “based on social collectives coming together to invest at the catchment scale,” Simpson says. What that looks like in practice remains to be seen: there are no models for Anglian Water to learn from. The work with CISL maps out new models for integrated management, potential financing streams, and cost-benefit projections.

Read the piece at Scientific American.


Ashland Secures $350K for Wildfire Fuels Thinning

The City of Ashland, Oregon recently received matching funds from the National Forest Foundation for wildfire fuels thinning in the city’s watershed. The agreement, which will treat around 350 acres at a cost of US $350,000, builds on earlier work under the Ashland Forest Resiliency project which has worked to reduce wildfire risks since 2010. Funding for that project has run out; the city’s decision to put forward its own funding in order to attract additional support seems to have paid off for now. But with thousands of acres needing treatment, “It’s an ongoing saga,” says Ashland mayor John Stromberg.

The Ashland Daily Tidings has coverage.


Water Stewardship and the Supply Chain: H&M’s Experience So Far

China Water Risk has an update on H&M’s partnership with WWF to implement water stewardship approaches in basins in China, where fabric mills supplying the company operate. A year in, the initiative offers some insights into successes so far, and some of the challenges of water stewardship when it comes to a global supply chain. To date, the partnership has trained employees and put teams in place to implement a Yangtze Basin engagement plan that increases efficiency and limits water quality impacts from operations. It also aims to set water targets and improve water management at all 500 supplier factories by 2015. H&M’s business structure means cooperative action is essential: the company owns no factories and doesn’t even have a direct relationship with the fabric mills that supply its suppliers. That means H&M and WWF have some heavy lifting to do as far as building partnerships. According to the company, “We strongly believe that this is the most sustainable approach to water management, but it means that we first must build trust and a shared vision with our partners.”

Read more at China Water Risk.


EVENTS

Webinar: U.S. Corporate Water Risks: Closing the Gap between Concern and Action

A 2014 survey of major U.S. corporations by the Pacific Institute and VOX Global found that 60% of companies believe water challenges will negatively affect business growth and profitability within five years. More than 80% said it will affect their decision on where to locate facilities. This is a stark increase from five years ago, when fewer than 20% of responding companies were concerned about water risks. During this one-hour webinar, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, Pacific Institute, VOX Global, and WASH Advocates, attendees will discuss these findings and explore the gap between concern and action. Attendees will hear private sector case studies, as well as steps companies can take to identify water risks and opportunities, and how to make the business case for action. 17 June 2014. 3:00 EDT. Online.

Register here.


World Water Week 2014: Energy and Water

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Every year, SIWI provides a platform for over 200 collaborating organisations to convene events at the World Water Week. In addition, individuals from around the globe present their findings at the scientific workshops. Early Bird discount rate is available till 30 June. 31 August – 5 September 2014. Stockholm, Sweden.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. The deadline for the submission of abstracts for posters is June 15th and July 6th. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.


One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit

Early Bird Registration for this year’s One Water Leadership (OWL) Summit is open with reduced rates! Join the 5th annual event September 15 – 17, in Kansas City. Invited keynotes include: President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Spotlight Communities will drive the national conversation on water as the centerpiece for urban sustainability, developing green infrastructure and resource recovery. 15-17 September 2014. Kansas City MO, USA.

Learn more here.


16th Annual BIOECON Conference

The BIOECON Partners are pleased to announce the Sixteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on the theme of “Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability”. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on issues broadly in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and natural capital, in both developed and developing countries. The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resource management, development and conservation, including but not limited to: the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in economic development, plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development, growth and biodiversity conservation, as well as on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources. 21-23 September 2014. Cambridge, UK.

Learn more here.


World Green Infrastructure Congress

The Congress will present the latest technological developments, green industry awards, iconic best practice projects, research data, professional training workshops, Living Art competition and new areas of applications in the field of green infrastructure. It will serve as a surface + space where international urban greenery thought leaders from various disciplines may come together with architects, landscape architects, landscaper contractors, environmentalists, horticulturists, nursery growers and policymakers and stakeholders to examine the present and future trends of this growing sector. 7-10 October 2014. Sydney, Australia.

Learn more here.


ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


JOBS

 


Programme Coordinator

WWF – South Africa

WWF-SA invites applications for the position of Programme Coordinator to support the work of the Fynbos Succulent Land Programme (FSK). The FSK Programmes has four predominant focal areas of work:

 

  • Supporting & mobilising civil society participation in conservation (via The Table Mountain Fund, and the WWF-Nedbank Green Trust);
  • Growing our Protected Area Estate through land purchase and other innovative means (driven by the Land Programme);
  • Demonstrating that ecosystem management and restoration efforts in priority habitats can be better achieved and financed over the long-term through developing potential carbon projects that also promise high water and/or biodiversity returns, and
  • Testing new ideas and concepts around building socio-ecological resilience in key landscapes within the Fynbos (the Resilient Landscapes Programme).

 

This position will support the entire FSK Programme, but particularly the work of the Land Programme, the Resilient Landscapes Programme, and aspects of the FSK civil society engagement work undertaken via the Green Trust portfolio of projects.

Learn more here.




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