Having trouble reading this email? Click Here to view the posted version.
WQ Market Monthly

November 18, 2009    

Water Photo

From the Editors

NASA scientists last week discovered a “significant amount” of water on the moon, spurring many out-of-this-world questions among our team of market specialists.  Will the moon be the next frontier for robust water markets, both for quantity and quality? Will future shuttle missions be trucking gallons of water back to Earth?  Probably not, but it’s interesting to imagine where scientists will find the next big reserve of extractable, clean water to feed our increasingly thirsty planet.

For now, we’ll look a bit closer to home.  In September, The New York Times launched a series highlighting one area where government can and must harness existing tools for water management: the enforcement of Clean Water Act standards and violations.  The Times’ Toxic Waters series uncovers severe gaps in action against point source polluters who illegally dump millions of pounds of harmful substances into the nation’s waterways.  The series includes some alarming statistics, for example fewer than three percent of Clean Water Act violations result in fines or other significant punishments by state officials.  While this series may speak to local enforcement issues, we couldn’t help but draw ties to global ecosystem markets.  In light of the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations, how can we expect the US to sign, ratify, implement, and enforce a global climate agreement--with or without reference to water issues--when regulators cannot control the most identifiable sources of pollution, those that come from the end of a pipe?

Stepping outside of US borders, we continue to see water quality markets and policies emerge globally.  In response to the proliferation of ecosystem markets in Latin America, Ecosystem Marketplace has teamed up with Reforestamos México, a non-governmental organization focused on Mexican forestry, to launch Mercados Ambientales.  This new website provides Spanish news content covering an array of payment for ecosystem service projects.  

Amidst these developments, we are nearing the completion of our report, “State of the Global Water Quality Marketplace.”  The report will quantify market transactions, with insight into both nutrient trading programs and voluntary schemes that operate outside of the regulatory framework.  Our cousins in biodiversity are also putting the final touches on a similar product, “State of the Biodiversity Markets.”  Both reports are due out in January 2010.

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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



New York Times rattles regulators with water quality reporting

According to a new series from the New York Times, regulators have turned their backs to the soaring rate of Clean Water Act violations.  Passed nearly four decades ago, the Clean Water Act requires polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways.  Regulatory authority falls primarily on the states, which establish pollution statues of their own.  The Times has obtained hundreds of thousands of water pollution records and compiled a national database of water pollution violations. Key findings include:

  • In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times.
  • The number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act grew more than 16 percent from 2004 to 2007.
  • Fewer than 3 percent of Clean Water Act violations resulted in fines or other significant punishments by state officials.
  •  State officials attribute their poor enforcement record to budget restrictions – funds have remained flat as the number of regulated facilities has increased.

For more stats and a closer look at water pollution violations in your neighborhood, check out the resources below.

  – Read more from New York Times
  – Visit the Toxic Waters database
  – Learn more about the Toxic Waters Series

Cleansing the air at the expense of water

The New York Times continued its “Toxic Waters” series with a report on the growing conflict between clean air and clean water.  According to the Times, wastewater volumes have been skyrocketing as more and more power plants use scrubbers or similar technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  “It’s like they decided to spare us having to breathe in these poisons, but now we have to drink them instead,” explains one victim of dirty waterways in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.  From a legislative standpoint, prospects for water quality improvement look grim – while some regulators use the Clean Water Act to combat pollution, these laws neglect the most dangerous chemicals in power plant waste.  No federal regulations specifically govern the disposal of power plant discharges, although the EPA recently completed a multi-year study on power plant wastewater discharge in hopes of tightening regulations by the end of the year.

  – Read more from the NY Times
  – Read about the EPA findings from POWERnews

Northeastern foresters tap into water markets

Woodland owners and conservation professionals are working together to improve water quality and quantity in two critical northeastern watersheds: the Upper Connecticut River watershed in Vermont and New Hampshire, and the Crooked River watershed in Maine.  The American Forest Foundation, in partnership with Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Western Foothills Land Trust, and White River Partnership will develop an innovative and replicable market-based model to incentivize watershed services such as water purification and habitat protection.  The project received a $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s National Resource Conservation Service.  Stay tuned for updates on the project’s next challenges: identifying ecosystem service buyers and negotiating a price for watershed services.

  – Read more on the White River Partnership website

Hot off the press: Chesapeake Bay Executive Order Draft

The Obama administration recently unveiled a new strategy for restoring the Chesapeake Bay that calls for stiffer controls on farm and urban runoff.  In response to an Executive Order issued back in May, federal agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Transportation recently submitted plans to re-energize the lagging restoration effort.  The reports address issues such as water quality, public access, landscape conservation, climate change, scientific monitoring, and the protection of living resources. These reports were integrated into a draft strategy, published November 9.  Public comment on the draft will take place through January 9 and the final strategy will be published in May of 2010.

  – Read more from the Baltimore Sun
  – Download the draft and submit your comments here

Nutrients not the only culprit of dead zone expansion

Dead zones – ocean expanses that lose their marine life due to insufficient oxygen - often form where excess nutrients feed microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton.  As phytoplankton bloom, die, and decompose, they take huge loads of life-sustaining oxygen with them.  Efforts to control dead zones have therefore focused on nutrient flows – until now.  Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) believe that climate change may be the latest culprit of dead zone expansion.  The OSU team will soon deploy a new network of undersea gliders and cabled moorings in the Pacific Northwest as part of a $386 million effort to gauge the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans.

  – Read more from Environmental News Serivce

USDA targets agricultural polluters in Mississippi River basin

The federal government has announced the first water quality program to specifically target agricultural runoff.  While scientists and policymakers have long known that runoff from farms throughout the Mississippi River basin feeds the Gulf’s dead zone, this new initiative marks the first time that the government has directed funding specifically towards non-point pollutant sources.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will funnel $320 million over four years to projects in 12 Mississippi and Ohio River states.  USDA will prioritize farms along streams and tributaries that have been shown to contribute the highest amounts of nutrient pollution.

  – Read more from Nola.com
  – Read more from the Missouri Ruralist

Water survey uncovers murky findings

Every five years since 1950, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has published an analysis of domestic water use.  Dr. Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder of the Pacific Institute, summarizes the findings of the latest report, which examined usage from 2000 to 2005: “The good news is at the national level, water use isn’t growing; the bad news is that in many parts of the U.S., demand is growing and scarcity is becoming more of a problem.”  Both irrigation and industrial water usage were the most improved, meaning that water withdrawals in these sectors decreased or stabilized from 2000 to 2005.  The study also found that per-capita water use has dropped almost 30 percent from 1975. Population growth, however, has challenged these positive trends, compounding scarcity issues in states such as California and Florida where consumption is highest and supply continues to evaporate.

  – Read more from Circle of Blue

Should water quality traders be allowed to double dip?

A new resource from the World Resources Institute (WRI) provides an overview of the terminology, opportunities, and potential pitfalls surrounding ecosystem credit stacking.  WRI explains that stacking occurs when “a project receives payments from different programs for more than one of the ecosystem services that are generated.”  For example, a farmer cutting back on fertilizer use will reduce both air and water pollution, meaning he can potentially generate carbon and water quality credits.  The big and often controversial question is whether it is justifiable to award multiple credits for the same patch of land.  Check out the WRI resource below and be sure to contribute your opinion on the EKO-ECO blog.

  – Download the WRI fact sheet
  – Comment on the EKO-ECO blog
  – Read more from Ecosystem Marketplace



California passes historic water accord

On November 6, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an historic agreement addressing one of California's most vexing problems: its vulnerable water supply and a dying Delta ecosystem.  The five-bill package requires state residents to cut water use by an average of 20 percent over the next decade and, for the first time, requires water users to measure and report their use of groundwater.  California is the last state in the US to require groundwater monitoring.  With this new data, California will be better able to manage the source of 30 to 40 percent of water supply in the San Joaquin Valley.  The new laws will also put an $11 billion water bond for dams and other projects up for vote next year.

  – Read more from the Chicago Tribune
  – Read an op-ed from Circle of Blue
  – Read more from Water Tech Online

US Climate bill slips in water provisions

The Boxer-Kerry climate legislation, which recently moved out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, includes a number of less disputed water efficiency provisions in addition to the headline grabbing cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.  The bill authorizes and incentivizes the EPA’s WaterSense program, a voluntary program for labeling water-efficient products and services. The bill also proposes "Water System Mitigation and Adaptation Partnerships”.  These partnerships would provide grants for drinking water and wastewater projects that help utilities adapt to expected impacts of climate change.  In case the climate bill slips through the cracks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed similar stand-alone water legislation.

  – Read more from Water World

EPA cracks the whip on Florida water quality

Following months of dispute, a federal judge on Monday approved a consent decree requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set legal limits on nutrient loads in Florida’s waterways.  Back in June, the public interest firm Earthjustice filed a suit on behalf of several environmental groups dissatisfied with the state’s ailing water quality.  The EPA agreed to intervene by setting legal limits for Florida’s water, but Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson fought back, arguing that inadequate data from the EPA would lead to overprotective standards.  With the case ruling in favor of the environmental groups, polluters will now be forced to clean up their act.

  – Read more from Environment News Service
  – Read more from Ocala.com

New Farm Bill programs beef up water quality

Two new programs in the 2009 Farm Bill will provide funding to specialty crop farmers implementing water quality improvement projects in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  The Agricultural Water Enhancement Program and the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative – both administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service - will offer crop growers $2.6 million in annual funding over the next five years.  The funds will help make changes to farm fields that lessen water quality impacts from irrigation and storm drainage, through projects such as the installation of sediment basins and irrigation tailwater recirculation systems, the planting of native shrub hedgerows for integrated pest management, and the creation of riparian buffers for erosion control. 

  – Read more from The Modesto Bee



Water evaporates from Copenhagen negotiating text

“To ignore the role of water is to cripple any climate change adaptation plans.” WWF’s Denis Landenbergue expressed this common sentiment among water experts after all references to water were pulled from Non-Paper 31, the negotiating text for December’s Copenhagen climate summit.  This defeat disappointed many water advocates who had spent months rallying for the inclusion of water provisions in the draft.  In late October, the International Water Association held a water and energy conference focusing on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in the water sector.   Later, the Stockholm Water Institute met in Barcelona, again stressing the connections between water, climate change, society and ecosystems.  While the resulting water text may be washed up for now, be sure to check our webpage for a play-by-play on the Copenhagen negotiations.

  – Read more from Circle of Blue
  – Read more from the WWF

New South Wales lifts water trade embargo

In late September, the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) governments announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) allowing New South Wales farmers to again sell water entitlements to the Federal Government.  The MOU marked the end of a four-month fiasco surrounding water entitlements.  Long story short, the NSW government placed an embargo on commonwealth purchases of water entitlements back in May, arguing it was doing more than its share to boost the ailing Murray Darling Basin.  The embargo held up until neighboring province Victoria agreed to play a bigger role in the market.  The NSW government finally lifted the embargo and signed the MOU, allowing the purchase of up to 890 billion liters from 2008 to 2013.

  – Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald

Tanzanian project reaches watershed agreement

In early 2008, CARE International and The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) embarked on a mission to bring payments for watershed services to the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania.  Now in its implementation phase, the Equitable Payments for Watershed Services program has successfully connected sellers (those who implement best management practices) and buyers (those who pay for ecosystem improvements).  The program has enrolled 450 farmers (the sellers) to implement land use projects including reforestation and soil conservation.  Dar es salaam Water and Sewage Corporation (DAWASCO) and Coca Cola Kwanza Limited will act as the buyers, rewarding farmers who improve their land use practices to ensure a cleaner water supply.  Payments will range from $30US per hectare per year to $280 per hectare per year, depending on project type.  Following the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between buyers and sellers, the first payments are expected to occur as early as next month.

  – Read more from CARE

Ecuador tacks new water bill onto national agenda

In October, a new water bill was presented to the National Assembly of Ecuador.  The bill aims to regulate the new constitutional mandates to redistribute water rights and ensure that water provision is only for public or community-based needs.  The bill received strong opposition from indigenous groups who felt excluded from its development.  The Food Security Committee of the National Assembly reviewed the bill and presented it to the plenary for the first debate on November 12th.  Read more details (in Spanish) below.



Robo-fish supply just-in-time data on water quality

An ecologist and engineer at Michigan State University have teamed up to develop robotic fish that will probe underwater environments.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, the robo-fish carry sensors recording various water conditions such as levels of dissolved oxygen, pollutants, harmful algae, and temperature.  New high-tech features will also allow the fish to navigate and communicate wirelessly with a docking station.  While the device isn’t yet strong enough to resist stiff currents, future generations will have even sharper locomotion and maneuvering skills.

  – Read more from Science Daily

"Big Brother" keeping an eye on water use from space

Satellites are increasingly being tasked with keeping an eye on the planet’s fresh water supplies, giving scientists and government new tools to track how water is used, who is using it, and how to better manage the fragile resource. The Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) has led one such initiative by using satellite imagery to tell exactly where water is being consumed.  Across the globe, satellite data from India has uncovered surprising consumption rates – some states are using water faster than it can be replenished, reducing groundwater levels by a foot a year.

  – Read more from Circle of Blue
  – Read more from the Washington Post



World Resources Institute: Research Analyst

Washington D.C.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) seeks a results-oriented individual with a master’s degree, experiences with corporate sustainability, and exposure to ecosystem services for a full-time position. The Research Analyst will provide analytical, research, writing, communication, and organizational support to WRI’s Business & Ecosystems Project in their efforts to mainstream ecosystem service-based strategies in the private sector

  – More information

United Nations: Senior Water Resources and Climate Specialist

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This post is located in the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).  The Senior Water Resources and Climate Specialist will work under the overall guidance of the Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development Division (FSSDD) and the direct supervision of the Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC).

  – More information

EnviroTrac: Entry Level Environmental Scientist

New York and Massachusetts

EnviroTrac Ltd. is a full service environmental consulting with eight offices located in six states. EnviroTrac Ltd. has extensive experience in Phase I & Phase II Environmental Site Assessments for legal, lending, real estate and commercial clients. The company is currently seeking entry-level Environmental Scientists and Technicians for the Yaphank, NY (Long Island) and Norwood, MA (Boston area) locations.

  – More information



Corporate Water Footprinting

Corporate Water Footprinting will outline the risks and opportunities water poses to business and offer practical advice on mapping and reducing water consumption in products and across the supply chain.


San Francisco
December 2 – 3, 2009

  – More information

Science to Solutions: Reducing Nutrient Export to the Gulf of Mexico

This workshop for managers, policy makers, and scientists is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The purpose of the workshop is to explore science-based solutions for reducing sources of nutrient loads exported from the Midwest portion of the Mississippi River drainage system to the Gulf of Mexico. The focus is on four basins: the Missouri, Upper Mississippi River, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers. 


Des Moines, Iowa
December 9 – 11, 2009

  – More information

3rd International Perspective on Current and Future State of Water Resources and the Environment

The Environmental & Water Resources Institute (EWRI), and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, invites you to EWRI's 3rd developing nations conference.  Participants will include engineers, scientists, planners, economists and legal professionals from all over the globe. 


Chennai, India
January 5 – 7, 2010

  – More information



Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.


Share This Newsletter

Know someone who might be interested in the Ecosystem Marketplace and this newsletter?
Be Our Next
Newsletter Sponsor

This newsletter and all Ecosystem Marketplace's information services are possible due to donor support. For more information about sponsoring an edition of the W.E.T. News, advertising or donating to Ecosystem Marketplace please email us.
BioCarbon Fund
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Forest Trends
The Katoomba Group
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
USDA Forest Service
Home | About | eNewsletter | News | Opinion | People | Library | Directory | Events | Tools | MarketWatch

© Copyright 2009, EcosystemMarketplace.com. All Rights Reserved.