Bees, Trees, and Mountain Streams: Bolivia Puts a B in PWS
Diovigildio Ayala grew up on the rugged slopes of Bolivia’s Santa Cruz Valley, where he learned the value of bees as pollinators, honeymakers – and moneymakers. So when Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia offered him bolivanos to change the way he worked the slopes, he said he’d rather get paid in bees. “If I receive cash, I know I will spend it right away,” says Ayala. “Instead, I want these payments to create something that lasts.”
To ensure reilable supplies of clean water, Bolivian water users asked upland farmers what it would take for them to maintain the watershed. Their answers were surprising, and the result is a unique payments for watershed services program that may incentivize watershed conservation across the Andes and around the world.
– Keep reading at Watershed Connect.
Why Saving Marshes Might Save Civilization
Coastal marine environments like seagrass meadows, salt marshes and mangroves (known collectively as “blue carbon”) are just beginning to attract attention for all the free services they provide to humanity, most notably a seemingly supernatural capacity to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
“Imagine what it would cost to construct a carbon sink to absorb all the emissions from the planet’s entire transportation fleet,” says Sierra Club of B.C. science advisor Colin Campbell. “You would be aghast at what that would cost right? But we already have it, with our blue carbon habitats, and all we have to do is stop wrecking them to make shrimp farms, marinas and boat ramps.”
– Read on at Ecosystem Marketplace.
London Meeting Aims To Move Natural Capital Declaration From Words To Deeds
The Natural Capital Declaration aims to push environmental risks and rewards onto corporate balance sheets in an effort to promote responsible stewardship of natural resources. It has the backing of 39 financial institutions, and many of them met last month in London to explore ways of turning the declaration into deeds.
The Declaration itself is a fairly straightforward two-page statement calling on governments to recognize environmental degradation as a business risk and committing signatories to take natural capital into account when making their investment decisions. The roadmap reviewed at the London meeting is a more substantial 30-page document that summarizes the literature to date and offers more detail on how companies can begin accounting for natural capital.
– Learn more.
Draft Plan Would Let States Set TMDLs for Healthy Waters
Setting a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has long been a regulatory tool for returning impaired waters to health in the US; TMDLs act as ‘caps’ on the amount of pollution allowed to enter a water body. But a new draft plan from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) would let states set TMDLs for healthy waters to protect them from future degradation. That would be a game-changer for clean water regulation in the country – not to mention a potentially huge driver of new water quality trading markets. “We realized that we were focusing on just getting the TMDLs for all impaired waters rather than for those waters that would benefit most from restoration,” said Alexandra Dunn, ACWA’s executive director and general counsel. The draft plan wouldn’t kick in until 2016; it’ll be publicly available for comments sometime next month.
– Learn more from Bloomberg BNA.
Good News: A New Tool Lets Us Measure Our Groundwater Footprint. Guess What the Bad News Is.
Here’s a number that might make you spit out your coffee (try to aim toward the aquifer!): humanity’s groundwater footprint is three and a half times the size of actual groundwater available. Thankfully, a new groundwater tool does more than just reveal the problem: it also lets users evaluate the use, renewal and ecosystem requirements of groundwater at an aquifer scale. The data is a significant aid to ongoing research and could help with issues like estimating agricultural yields when pumping groundwater. The methodology can also be modified to measure resources other than water that have similar renewal rates, like forestry, fisheries and soil.
– Keep reading at WaterWorld.
In It Together: From Water Quality Trading 101 to Master-Level
A new offering from the Willamette Partnership, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and World Resources Institute aims to be a definitive guide to developing a water quality trading program. As the mechanism starts to come of age, there’s a lot to be learned from early successes and failures. In It Together comes in three sections: the first offers an overview of water quality trading to date and is a great introductory resource. The second section gets into the details, providing extensive information on designing and operating water quality trading programs. And part three is comprised of case studies from around the country, profiling programs in North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest, and the Chesapeake Bay.
– Learn more and download the report.
Tracking Threats to Reefs in the Coral Triangle
The Coral Triangle in the southeast Pacific plays host to the highest coral diversity in the word, but 85 percent of its reefs are in danger from pollution, development and climate-related ocean warming and acidification. That startling figure comes from recent analysis from the World Resources Institute and the Coral Triangle Support Partnership, Reefs at Risk Revisited. The report examines threats to reefs in the tropical waters near Indonesia, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands, and cites several ways to reduce risks including scaling up international collaboration, strengthening climate change response efforts and mitigating pressures from human activities.
– Read a press release and access the report.
India Proposes to Require Water Footprinting From All Industry
India’s new draft National Water Policy requires industry to report their water footprints as part of the project appraisal and financing process. If the policy is approved, footprinting would become part of standard environmental impact analyses. The policy also aims to position groundwater as a common pool community resource, and proposes to monitor use wherever there are concerns about depletion or pollution – a change which state governments are expected to oppose.
– Learn more.
Water Storage and the Water, Energy, and Food Nexus
A Stockholm International Water Institute report recently took a look at water storage options through the lens of the water, energy, and food nexus. Large-scale water storage can offer a source of energy through hydropower and insurance against floods and droughts. On the other hand, the authors write, “Issues of resettlement, compensation, and environmental degradation are critical factors to consider in all water storage projects.” Promised benefits often fail to appear. Drawing on past experiences, the report analyses the risks and benefits of different storage options while highlighting best practices and exploring opportunities for water storage that will enhance water, energy, and food security in the future.
– Learn more.
Groundbreaking Interstate Water Quality Trading Program Finds its First Three Takers
Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are the first states to sign on for the first-ever interstate water quality trading program in the US. Planned pilot nutrient trades between three power plants and 30 farms in the Ohio River Basin will generate credits that apply in all three states. The pilot aims to eliminate 45,000 pounds of nitrogen and 11,000 pounds of phosphorous loading annually. At full scale, the trading program will include eight states and could create credit markets for 230,000 farms, 46 power plants and thousands of wastewater facilities.
And to learn more about the water quality trading program, check out a recent webinar and supporting materials from EPRI – linked below (look under the “Project Materials – Summer 2012” headers).
– Read a press release.
– Watch the webinar recording and read more.
In Kenya, Lake Naivasha Project Pays Off at Both Ends of the Basin
The Lake Naivasha watershed payment project in Kenya recently posted its third payment to upstream communities in the Malewa Catchment area. 784 landowners implementing soil & water conservation activities received a total of KES 2.3 million (about USD$27,400) channeled through local Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) from beneficiaries in the lower part of the watershed. The program’s major initial buyer was the Lake Naivasha Growers Group; lately flower companies and ranchers who also stand to benefit from reduced downstream sedimentation have expressed interest in participating. Payments began in 2008 under the program, which is part of the WWF-CARE consortium’s Equitable Payments for Watershed Services (EPWS) scheme.
– Keep reading.
Revised Murray-Darling Basin Plan Is Out – And Still Drawing Criticism
A revised plan for the Murray Darling Basin buybacks may lower the minimum allocation for environmental flows, although state governments haven’t responded and other legislators are calling it vague. Using a mechanism to make adjustments to earlier set water targets, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has proposed a plan that requires less water returned to the environment so long as the same environmental outcomes are reached. The revisions seek to satisfy the demands of irrigators, state government and green groups.
The new plan sets targets at between 2400 and 3200 gigalitres, whereas the old plan recommended 2750 gigalitres. States in the basin disagree on the amount of instream flow restoration necessary to reach environmental goals. Their governments have three weeks to respond before it heads to the Federal Water Minister for approval or further changes before arriving at the Federal Parliament.
– Get the full story from Sky News.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group Pledges $1m for Watershed Restoration in Texas
Beverage companies have long been front-runners in efforts to protect source water supplies; Vittel Water’s initiative to compensate local farmers for helping cut water pollution is often held up as a ‘classic’ case of payments for ecosystem services. Now, in Texas watersheds, Dr Pepper Snapple Group will fund a million dollars’ worth of restoration projects at five nature preserves. The projects, implemented by The Nature Conservancy, take place on 7500 acres in the Trinity and Brazos Rivers basins, over part of the Edwards Aquifer, and along the Texas Gulf Coast – all critical sources of water to major metropolitan areas. It’s the latest in an impressive list of efforts by beverage companies to conserve water and protect water supplies.
– Keep reading at Environmental Leader.
Milwaukee Draft Wastewater Permit First in US to Mandate Green Infrastructure
The Milwaukee Municipal Sewage Department (MMSD) are showing that they meant business when they said no more sewage overflows by 2035. A draft state wastewater discharge permit is the first in the US to require green infrastructure investments to manage stormwater. MMSD officials are embracing the requirement – green infrastructure is cheaper to install than ‘gray’ infrastructure and reduces pressure on the sewer system.
The MMSD will have to look beyond their plant to comply with the new permit, working with municipalities and private landowners to install rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavements and green roofs. Between 2002 and 2012, 118 million gallons’ worth of green infrastructure storage has already been built in the Milwaukee area, with nearly $3 million budgeted each year for the improvements. The draft permit requirements translate to adding an extra million gallons of storage capacity every year. Taxpayers will foot part of the bill via annual construction budget allocations.
– Get the full story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
World Water Week
World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991. Join us! Each year the World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water-related topic. The current niche for 2009-2012 is “Responding to Global Changes”, which looks at the potential and necessary responses in water policy, management and development to address pervasive and increasingly impacting global changes. 2012’s theme is ‘Water and Food Security’. 26 – 31 August, 2012. Stockholm, Sweden.
– Learn more.
Green Infrastructure for Ecosystem Services in the Built Environment: Masterclasses
18 accredited interdisciplinary masterclasses are being held around the UK and Ireland from September 2012 – March 2014. Led by experts in urban green infrastructure design, policy and implementation, these events will explore the local potential to adapt our towns and cities to climate change by working with the grain of nature. Starting in September 2012 in Glasgow, these 18 masterclasses led by UK experts are hosted monthly in key urban centres around the UK and Ireland. Participants explore the potential for urban green infrastructure in the host city, looking at issues of policy, planning, design, installation and maintenance, developing the confidence and skills needed for good practice and implementation. Facilitated by RESET in association with chartered institutions and Defra/DCLG’s Green Infrastructure Partnership, these workshops share knowledge and expertise with local practitioners and designers, planners and policy makers, contractors and green space managers. September 2012 – March 2014. Throughout the UK and Ireland.
– Learn more.
American Water Summit: Business Models for the Future
In today’s world of constrained resources and limited capital, there is a tremendous need to think creatively and implement smarter models for doing business in the water sector. We are already seeing the impact of new, smarter technologies and innovative project delivery models, but how much further can we go? A 21st century water sector should embrace and reward best practices, and tomorrow’s water leaders must be connected, creative and unafraid to question and improve upon the old paradigms for doing business. The American Water Summit is the foundation for this successful water future. An agenda-defining event with the intimacy and openness of a boardroom meeting, the Summit brings together the leaders from public and private sectors to make connections and lay the groundwork for the future of water. 14-15 November 2012. Chicago IL, USA.
– Learn more.
13th International Conference on Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control
Treatment wetlands are now a well established technology. There are several thousand wetland systems treating municipal, agricultural and industrial wastewaters in North America and Europe and a rising number of systems treating point source and non-point source pollution globally. These wetland systems have a wide variety of engineering designs, wetted areas, flow rates, influent and effluent quality, hydraulic properties and monitoring requirements. The information from this operational treatment experience can be used to form design guidelines for wetland systems. Research is necessary in areas of system longevity, pollutant removal process dynamics and system modelling. The major aim of the Conference is to bring together researchers and professionals to discuss new developments and exchange experiences in the field of constructed wetland systems. The Conference will highlight the latest improvements and achievements in the treatment of urban storm water runoff, domestic and municipal wastewaters, agricultural and industrial effluents. 25-29 November 2012. Perth, Australia.
– Learn more.
ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012
ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities – A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The conference will provide an open forum to share experiences and state-of-the-art methods, tools, and processes for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. 10-12 December 2012. Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA.
– Learn more.