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.

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Water Log newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of water automatically in your inbox here.

3 April 2012 | 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 below.

But for Ecosystem Marketplace, the biggest event of all came with the launch of our newest venture, Watershed Connect. It’s a one-stop resource platform dedicated to innovative financing for watershed conservation around the world. We’ve got a global project inventory, a suite of collaborative tools for practitioners, key tools for project and policy development, and the latest news and analysis. We encourage you to stop on by! You can add your project to the inventory, follow us on Twitter, and sign up for our LinkedIn group.


Forest Trends was also recently chosen as “Charity of the Week” by The Week magazine, based on our four-star ranking by Charity Navigator, the highest possible rating based on financial, accountability, and transparency performance metrics. You can read our profile here (subscription required).


Read on for the latest in incentive mechanisms to protect our water resources. We also always welcome your own submissions if you have a project or news item you’d like to contribute to the Water Log.


And finally, if you value what we do, consider making a donation. Your support allows us to continue delivering news and analysis on environmental markets, free of charge, that you can’t get anywhere else. With a one-time donation of $150 or more, your or your company gets a featured spot on our ‘Supporting Subscribers’ list for a year. We heartily thank all those who have already contributed!

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].



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 two weeks ago, 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.  It’s a case that turns on somewhat obscure questions about administrative procedure – but it will have ramifications for wetlands protection across the United States. At issue isn’t whether the Sackett’s property is or is not a wetland, but how the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responds to what it percieves as damage to wetlands.  

     – Learn more here.


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

A new collaboration between the Willamette Partnership (WP) and Salmon-Safe will link ecosystem markets to eco-labeling, potentially unleashing an environmental incentives powerhouse. The initiative will work with  landowners to incorporate practices on their land that qualify for both the Salmon-Safe certification and the Willamette Partnership’s Counting on the Environment (COTE) ecosystem credits. The WP and Salmon-Safe say they aim to achieve the  “Incentives Trifecta”, which protects 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.

   – Get the fully story at Ecosystem Marketplace.


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” (CWA), two years after that. The CWA turns 40 this year.

   – Learn more from Ecosystem Marketplace.


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 (NGOs) aimed at harnessing new technologies for water management around the globe.

   – Get the full story from Ecosystem Marketplace.


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

The theme of this year’s World Water Day, held on March 22nd, was water and food security. Coordinated by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Water Day aims to highlight critical international freshwater issues. This year’s topic calls our attention to growing – and interlinked – pressures on agriculture, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Watershed Connect offers a brief introduction to the water and food security challenge and some innovative solutions.

   – Keep reading at Watershed Connect.



The Battle of the Bay Continues

March 30th marked the deadline for states to submit their final Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet cleanup goals in the Chesapeake Bay. A 2010 Total Maximum Daily Load set nutrient and sediment limits for six states and the District of Columbia in the watershed; the Phase II WIPs clarify how the targets will be met by actors at the local level.


Meanwhile, Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Tim Holden (D-PA) introduced a bill last month (H.R. 1453) that would shift responsibility for setting and achieving nutrient and sediment load limits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from the EPA to the states. The bill would also appoint committees to evaluate the EPA’s controversial models and to create an interstate nutrient trading program. It’s drawn immediate support from agricultural groups and criticism from environmental groups including the Chesapeake Bay Program and American Rivers; currently gives the bill an eight percent chance of passing.

   – Learn about the Chesapeake TMDL’s progress at the EPA’s website.
   – Read and track H.R. 1453 at Govtrack.


Two Birds, One Stone: Ashland Manages Water and Wildfires

The city of Ashland, OR received a grant in March to thin wildfire fuels on lands in its watershed from the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior.  $255,000 will enable the city and its partners to remove small trees and brush from 150 acres of city-owned land.  Increased erosion often comes in the aftermath of a high-intensity wildfires. Thinning of wildfire fuels is  emerging as a tool for watershed management  in cities across the West.  However, the project has its critics:  “I’m not convinced restoration logging is beneficial. Logging is logging,” says former City Councilor Eric Navickas.  Ashland has already established a $5 million project to manage watershed areas located on Forest Service lands over ten years.  

   – Get the story at the Ashland Daily Tidings.


Raise a Glass to the Deschutes Brewery

Deschutes Brewery announced its plans to fund restoration projects returning a billion gallons of water a year, or 160 cubic feet per second, to the Deschutes River system in Oregon. The brewery will fund the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC)’s water leasing program, which leases water from local water rights holders and then leaves it in-stream to support aquatic and riparian ecosystems. Deschutes Brewery has been supporting DRC efforts for six years; this newest commitment represents the DRC’s largest private donation ever – $25,000 annually – and an offset fourteen times greater than the brewery’s actual water use impacts.

   – Learn more about the commitment here.


An Economic Stimulus for New England is in the Trees

A coalition of eighty-five New England organizations have made an economic case for increasing federal forest conservation funding.  A Policy Agenda for Conserving New England’s Forests, released in early March,  outlines for lawmakers the fundamental role of forested landscapes in supporting local livelihoods and critical ecosystem services like filtering water and sequestering carbon.  


“In New England, forest conservation is a bipartisan issue because forests are the lifeblood of our economy and our traditional way of life,” says Emily Bateson, Highstead Conservation Director, a contributor to the document. “In Connecticut alone, more than 10,000 people have forest-based jobs.” The agenda calls for increased investment in conserving working forests and protected areas, as well as supporting conservation incentives to forest landowners.  

   – Read more at the Hamlet Hub.
   – Download the agenda (pdf).


New York City Inks a $3.8 billion Green Infrastructure Deal

New York City and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have signed off on a $3.8 billion deal to control stormwater over eighteen years that depends heavily on green infrastructure like porous pavement, green roofs, and tree pits.  The agreement marks an even greater shift from ‘gray’ infrastructure to green than a similar 2005 deal and also includes fines if the city fails to meet its targets.  


“This is the first time it is legally locked in for the city to make significant investments in green investment,” says the  the Natural Resources Defense Council’s  Larry Levine.  “That distinguishes New York from everywhere else in the country.”  

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland agrees, saying that the new deal “represents a breakthrough in how we re-envision stormwater management.”

   – Read a press release.
   – Read more at DNAinfo.


PENNVEST Wraps Up 2012’s First Forward Nutrient Credit Auction

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) has posted the results from its latest forward nutrient credit auction. Credits can be used to meet nutrient limits in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Participants in a forward auction trade credits to be delivered at a later date; in this case credits are for the compliance years 2012-2015. Credits representing one pound of annual nitrogen reduction in the Susquehanna River watershed went for $4 each for the 2012 period and $2.98 each from the 2013-2015 compliance years.  

   – The Gant Daily has the story.



Roundup of New Water & Food Security Resources

The 6th World Water Forum brought with it saw a stack of new reports and resources looking at water and food security links. Your intrepid Water Loggers have been reading our way through the pile, and here are a few of our picks:

  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its Environmental Outlook to 2050: The consequences of Inaction. A chapter dedicated to water looks at how competing demands and unchecked pressures on water resources could prove costly in the long run – “not just financially, but also in terms of lost opportunities, compromised health and environmental damage.” The chapter reviews policy responses and emerging issues, including allocating water for environmental use and links between water, energy, and food.  Read a preview of the Water chapter here.
  • The OECD also launched a new book, Water Quality and Agriculture: Meeting the Policy Challenge that offers an excellent overview of agricultural impacts on water quality, available policy instruments, and why earlier policies to limit agriculture pressure on water quality have had such uneven success.  A free executive summary is available here.
  • The US National Intelligence Council and Director of National Intelligence published a report, Global Water Security, that assess global security risks arising from water shortages, pollution, and flooding over the next thirty years. The report finds that water problems will contribute to destabilized global food markets, political conflicts, and diminished economic outputs.  Download the report here.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme and Stockholm Environmental Institute’s Releasing the Pressure: Water Resource Efficiencies and Gains for Ecosystem Services  argues for considering water productivity at a broader scale, considering not only agricultural benefits on-farm but also ecosystem services at a landscape level.  Download it here.
  • Germany rolled out its NEXUS resource platform tracking linkages between water, energy and food security. It offers key resources, tools, and opportunities for collaboration on the water-energy-food nexus and will be updated continually – so keep checking back.  Read a press release and visit the platform here.


Water Filters and Carbon Credits Join Forces in Kenya

Vestergaard Frandsen SA, a Swiss health and emergency services provider, tried on a new hat as a player in the voluntary carbon market, earning roughly 1.4 million tons of credits in its first tranche. The credits are the first of their kind, representing avoided emissions from burning fuelwood to boil water. They’re generated by distributing LifeStraw water filters to households across Kenya, to mitigate the need for boiling. This is expected to result in a reduction of emissions by more than two million tons of greenhouse gases each year. The credits are certified through the  Gold Standard  using a ‘suppressed demand’ methodology and have sold for more than $11.48 a ton, with JP Morgan buying up an unspecified number of credits.

   – Read more at Bloomberg.
   – Learn about the project and watch a short film.


The New Generation of Corporate Water Risk Tools

With water risk making its way onto the radars of companies around the world, an array of new tools to identify and manage corporate water risk are also appearing. The Guardian profiles several of these, including the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI)’s  Local Water Tool, Ceres’  Aqua Gauge, and the World Resources Institute-led  Aqueduct Alliance. Each are suited to a different use, notes Bill Baue, but their collective arrival reflect the issue’s growing profile: “The recent rise of water risk tool launches suggest that the business community is waking up to the physical, reputational, regulatory, and litigation risks around freshwater availability in a warming world.”

   – Learn more at the Guardian.


In South Africa, Working for Water Worth Every Penny

South Africa’s Engineering News profiles the national government’s Working for Water (WfW) program, which does double duty as both a jobs initiative and natural resources management program, employing around 25,000 people a year to clear invasive plants. A large eucalyptus tree, for example, can draw 40,000 gallons of water a year through its roots. Removing it essentially puts all of that water back into the river system. A 2011 study estimates that water loss from invasive plants costs South Africa  R6.5 billion (about US$850 million).  “Without the intervention of WfW though, it would have been R41.7 billion (US$5.45 billion),” says WfW Head of Operations Dr. Christo Marais.


Since its inception in 1995, WfW has grown to a budget of R1.1 billion (US$143 million), though Marais contends that this is far from sufficient:  “The estimated costs of controlling invasive plants, restoring degraded land, implementing an integrated veld and forest fire management programme and restoring and maintaining degraded wetlands and riparian zones are orders of magnitude (about R57-billion) more than what government is currently investing,” he says.  

   – Get the full story.


Water Funds Attract New Financing Flows in Latin America

When it comes to managing upstream impacts for downstream benefits, says Andrew Duetz, Director of international government relations at the Nature Conservancy,  “The ecology is simple – we know how to map and model the impacts of conservation and agricultural investments on freshwater flows and nutrient loads in rivers. The tricky part is actually sorting out the financing.”  


In Latin America, the Nature Conservancy has found one answer to that challenge: local water funds. These funds – “literally a trust fund that water users pay into” – are channeling financing for watershed conservation from new sources like water utilities, agricultural growers’ organizations, and breweries. Water funds also support a new paradigm in governance, where “the utilities, the private companies, and the local communities all have a seat at the table which allows for collective decision making.”

   – Read more in the Guardian.


A Policy Win for Watershed Payments in Kenya

The World Agroforestry Centre’s Pro-poor Rewards from Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) has been working to develop a  payments for ecosystem services (PES) project that directs funding from the Nairobi Water Company toward ecological restoration projects, which stand to benefit the water company by around US$23,000 a year in avoided purification costs.  


But the institutional and policy framework in Kenya, PRESA found, isn’t as PES-friendly as it might be, and the water company to date has been unable to finance the proposed restoration project. So PRESA engaged water policymakers, offering recommendations that are now being incorporated into forthcoming water management policies that formally recognize and operationalize payments for ecosystem services in Kenya.

   – Learn more from PRESA.
   – Read the policy position paper (pdf).


Philippine National Utility Proposes Watershed Restoration Projects

In the Philippines, the National Power Corporation (“Napocor”) has petitioned the Energy Regulatory Commission to allow it to use environmental fees from utility consumers for watershed restoration projects to the tune of nearly P300 million (roughly USD$6.7 million).  Rehabiliation would take place in eleven watershed areas; the funds would also cover administrative improvements and investigation of an eco-tourism component to generate additional funds.

   – Learn more from the Philippine Star.



RFF First Wednesday Webinar: Green Infrastructure

Nature provides a wealth of ecological services: forests store carbon and clean the air; rivers provide water for drinking and harbor animal species; and wetlands purify stormwater and serve as buffers against floods. Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing that this “green infrastructure” can be a cost-effective supplement or substitute for the “gray infrastructure”—pipes, dams, levees, treatment plants—traditionally used to control flooding, purify and store water, and reduce urban stormwater runoff.  At this First Wednesday Seminar, sponsored by RFF’s Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth, panelists will explore what “green infrastructure” means and describe how to evaluate the costs and benefits of land-use options for reducing flood damages.  4 April 2012. Washington, DC and online.  

   – Learn more.


Ecosystem Credit Accounting Training 2012

The Willamette Partnership’s Counting on the Environment’s Ecosystem Credit Accounting System was designed to assist practitioners who are participating in or interested in ecosystem markets.  The associated training program is open to individuals or groups and the modules can be taken individually or as a program ranging from one to six days. Training modules will cover foundations of payments for ecosystem services, ‘Markets 101’, and functional credit calculation methods for wetlands, streams, and upland ecosystems. Follow the link for more information on the training calendar and costs. 9 March – 8 June 2012. Portland, OR and online.  

   – Learn more.


Water Rights and Trading Summit: California

Water rights trading and water resource development are emerging markets that are creating abundant business opportunities. However, these new markets are not always easily understood. WestWater Research and American Water Intelligence are coming together to provide information and direction to water trading and development opportunities through a series of thought-provoking, regional conferences. 12-13 April 2012. Santa Barbara, CA

   – Learn more.


IWA World Conference on Water, Climate, and Energy

Water and energy are critical for our current society and will be of increasing importance in the future. Climate change is forcing us to reassess our energy usage and will have real and substantial impacts on the water cycle. Solving the interlinked challenges of water, climate and energy in a sustainable manner is one of the fundamental goals of this generation. Following on from conferences on Climate Change Adaptation and Water and Energy, the International Water Association is proud to announce the inaugural World Congress on Water, Climate and Energy in 2012.  The Congress will explore the topics of resilient and sustainable cities with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation.  13-18 May 2012. Dublin, Ireland.

   – Learn more.


Singapore International Water Week

Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is the global platform for water solutions. It brings policymakers, industry leaders, experts and practitioners together to address challenges, showcase technologies, discover opportunities and celebrate achievements in the water world.  1-5 July 2012. Singapore.

   – Learn more.




Home | About | eNewsletter | News | Opinion | People | Library | Directory | Events | Tools | MarketWatch

© Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.

Additional resources

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.