This Week In Water: Nature And The Nexus

Ecosystem Marketplace is gearing up for the 2014 State of Watershed Payments report. The report will cover the water energy food nexus and watershed investments among other topics. Meanwhile, EM is also preparing for Katoomba XX in Lima Peru where discussions will focus on aligning climate policy with other commitments that support resilient ecosystems and societies.

Ecosystem Marketplace is gearing up for the 2014 State of Watershed Payments report. The report will cover the water energy food nexus and watershed investments among other topics. Meanwhile, EM is also preparing for Katoomba XX in Lima Peru where discussions will focus on aligning climate policy with other commitments that support resilient ecosystems and societies.

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

31 March 2014 | Your editors have been wondering whether long, cold winters lead to putting extra irons in the proverbial fire, because we sure are busy this month. We’ve launched our 2014 water survey, gathering data for a new ‘State of Watershed Payments‘ report due out later this year. If you’re working in the field of natural infrastructure investments – whether that’s PES, water quality trading, partnerships for water stewardship, or something else, please get in touch. You can fill out the survey online, or work with us to share data through an interview or hard copy of the survey. The survey is also available in Spanish.

It’s going to be a great report this year.
We’re looking forward to covering financing mechanisms, watershed investment ROI, and nexus issues in greater detail. Be part of it by reporting on your own work, or talk to us about partnership and sponsorship opportunities.

We’re also preparing for the twentieth Katoomba meeting, “Climate, Forests, Water, and People: A Vision of Development for Tropical America.” With COP 20 only months away, and also to be held in Lima, Peru, we look forward to thinking about how to align climate policy and finance with other investment commitments, to ensure that forests and other ecosystems continue to support for a stable climate and resilient societies. If you’re interested in attending, learn more here.

We’ll be joining Natural Capital Markets for a free webinar on April 16th, exploring new models and actors driving natural capital investments in watershed services and biodiversity. Learn more and register here.

And finally, we’re looking forward to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s upcoming symposium, “Accelerating Sustainability: Energy and Water in Your Operations and Supply Chains” in Washington DC on May 6th. Look for us chairing the session on natural infrastructure. Follow the link to register – ‘Early Bird’ rates are available through the end of this month.


The water-energy nexus focus of the symposium is a timely one; it’s also the topic of this year’s World Water Day and two new reports which we cover in this month’s newsletter: a new World Water Development Report tracking how energy development may be accelerating water risk, and a white paper that considers the nexus rationale for integrating carbon and water footprint management.

We also have coverage of the world’s first interstate water quality trade (again, the energy sector makes an appearance!), and a new report from CDP that suggests that the private sector in India is failing to act on its water risk exposure.


Very best,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

EM Headlines


Event Marks World’s First Interstate Water Quality Trading Project

The Ohio River spans 981 miles meandering from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois where it empties into the Mississippi River. Twenty five million people live within its basin and three million rely on the river for their drinking water supply.


But pollution is damaging the river’s water quality. Nutrient-nitrogen and phosphorous-pollution is flowing into the waterway from different states. While the water and pollution in it crosses borders, the differing state laws often make solving the problem complicated. And the sources of pollution are many. They include power plants, wastewater treatment facilities, agriculture and urban runoff. In order to stem the flow of effluents, collaboration is needed among these groups as well as with environmental NGOs, farmers and federal and state agencies.


One solution that can provide this high level of collaboration is a water quality trading program. Three states within the Ohio River Basin are moving forward with one such project. Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana make up the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project that, if successful, will reduce nutrient pollution flowing into the Ohio River by 66,000 pounds of nitrogen and 33,000 pounds of phosphorous over a five year period. The program marked its first trade earlier this month: at full scale, the market could encompass eight states, 46 power plants, thousands of wastewater utilities and 230,000 farmers.

Learn more.

In The News


I Sense a Disturbance in the Nexus…

This year’s edition of the World Water Development Report finds that the water-energy nexus may be a little imbalanced. Energy and water needs are strongly interconnected, but too often energy development is favored at the expense of water resources, according to the report. In part, this is because policy-makers lack the information to understand water-energy tradeoffs, lead author Richard Connor tells Circle of Blue: “Because water is not managed around its economic value, whereas energy is seen as an economic value, the tendency is to make decisions with respect to energy and ignore the water limitations.” The report offers a thorough looks at trends in the energy and water sectors and outlook in the coming decades, along with a dozen case studies of successful nexus solutions.

Read Circle of Blue’s coverage.
Read the report (pdf).

EPA Suggests a Green Hand to Stem Combined Sewer Overflows

In October of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a green infrastructure strategy. This month, the EPA released guidance particularly focused on greening combined sewer overflow occurrences which are expected to increase with heavier rains in a changing climate. The infrastructure – such as grassy swales and porous pavements – can be incorporated into long-term control plans required . The Clean Water Act requires these plans, but meeting them has been expensive for urban areas in the past. Using green infrastructure can help reduce costs. The EPA guidance provides instructions on installing and maintaining green techniques while applying them alongside “gray” infrastructure like pipes. The guidance also demonstrates software that quantifies the amount of overflow the green infrastructure is reducing.

Bloomberg has coverage.

Southern Africa Struggles with Clean Water and Sanitation Targets

Out of fifteen southern African nations, only two are on target to cut by half the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation, says a report by nonprofit Water Aid. About 100 million people living in the region don’t have access to safe drinking water. Only Botswana and Seychelles will meet their 2015 Millennium Development Goals. The report called on governments to make as much progress as possible in the little time remaining before 2015.

One way is to allocate revenue from natural resource extraction toward sanitation and clean water. John Garrett, lead author of the Water Aid report, says, “There’s opportunity for other countries in the region to make better use of their natural resource base in order to expand public spending on water and sanitation.” Aid also should be distributed based on need, the report says. Seychelles receives $57.20 per person of aid while the Democratic Republic of Congo gets $1 per person in aid, even though over half the latter population lacks access to clean water. Garrett says, “The most important thing is to see political priority coming from those countries which have neglected the water and sanitation sector.”

Learn more.

Drumbeat for NatCap Accounting Gets Louder in the UK

“Unless we attach a value it is often assumed to be zero and we take it for granted,” the UK Secretary of State for Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, said during the launch of the latest State of Natural Capital report. He was referring to the lack of proper accounting for natural assets and the need for it. “Attaching a value improves our decision-making by shedding a light on what nature provides for free compared to things such as the costs and benefits of investment and regulation. It helps us make better choices for the long term.” The report, published this month by the UK Natural Capital Committee reinforces work already undertaken to incorporate natural capital into national accounting.

Learn more here.

Building Resilience with Natural Infrastructure in Kenya’s Tana Basin

In Kenya’s Tana River basin, work is underway to demonstrate how natural infrastructure can support resilience to climate change. The “Wise-Up” (Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem services Underpinning climate resilient Policies and programmes) program, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the International Climate Initiative, aims to demonstrate portfolios of built and natural infrastructure to manage water-food-energy security risks and build climate resilience. Work in the Tana Basin kicked off with a three-day workshop in Malindi. Program leaders plan to begin by developing dams and dykes within natural wetlands in the lower basin to mitigate flood and drought effects in the catchment.

Read more from the Kenya News Agency.

EPA Helps Lancaster PA Move on Green Infrastructure

Because of Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s interest and plan to implement green infrastructure throughout the city, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose them to serve as a case study for their recent report on utilizing green infrastructure for controlling wet-weather pollution. The EPA’s study found that Lancaster’s plan would reduce gray infrastructure capital costs by $121.7 million and save the city $661,000 in wastewater pumping and treatment costs annually. And unlike single-purpose gray pipelines, green infrastructure has the potential byproducts of cleaner air and biodiversity among other benefits which, in monetary terms, exceed $2.8 million in Lancaster’s case. This surpasses the estimated cost of implementing the changes, which ranged from $51 to $94 million. Liz Deardorff of American Rivers says, “Valuing multiple benefits of green infrastructure ensures water management investments by the city will help beautify, provide a safer, healthier and more prosperous community.”

Read more at WaterWorld.


Understanding Nexus Links Between Carbon and Water Footprints

A white paper released earlier this month by the Anthesis Group and the Water Footprint Network looks at the links between climate and water impacts, and why we should consider them in isolation. Demand for energy triggers greater demand for water, and often vice versa, suggesting a need to manage growth and impacts in tandem. Fifteen companies including Nestlé, Nokia and Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd. have committed to integrated management of their carbon and water footprints already, the authors note. “Until today, water and energy use has been tackled separately,” said Paul McNeillis, Director of Anthesis and a co-author of the white paper. “By considering them holistically, we are starting to clear the path towards sustainability.”

Learn more.
Read the white paper.

Three Energy Companies Become First Buyers in Ohio River Trading Project

Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy and American Electric Power (AEP) were the first buyers of water quality credits in the Ohio River Basin Trading Project that officially launched this month. The pilot project is the only interstate water quality trading project in the world and aims to stem the nutrient pollution flowing into the Ohio River from different states and sources. The three buyers purchased 9,000 credits altogether, and can use them to meet sustainability goals and for flexibility in meeting possible compliance obligations in the future. “These early credit transactions will immediately improve watershed and farm health,” says Jessica Fox, an EPRI technical executive and director of the water quality trading program.

Keep reading here.

India Business Sector Needs to Wake Up to Water Risk, Says CDP

By 2020, India is expected to be a water-scarce nation and by 2030, demand for water is expected to outstrip supply by 50 percent. But according to a study by the NGO CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the business sector in India isn’t recognizing the problem or planning accordingly. CDP’s report, “Safeguarding India’s Water Resources,” says companies are underestimating this risk. The federal government, meanwhile, is seeking a paradigm shift in their water resource management, calling for a 20 percent reduction in water use from industry. In order for this to happen, businesses need to identify their water risks with better measurement techniques and transparency, and then build long-term resilience to these challenges. “India’s economic growth and political stability are at stake in the coming years if it does not change its approach to water management,” the CDP report says. “The bottom-line is we need to act now.”

Business Today has the story.

Oregon Cities to be Cool and Clean with Natural Infrastructure

Natural vegetation along a waterway can act as a water filter and native plants can keep water cool. The city of Medford is one of two Oregon cities attempting to use this natural infrastructure through voluntary incentives programs that save money while keeping their water supplies cool and clean. Medford uses a program that pays landowners for an easement to plant trees on their property along the Rogue River. This program costs $8 million – slightly more than half of what installing chillers to cool the water would cost. The other city is Eugene, located east of the McKenzie River, where residents will be compensated for maintaining a swath of their property in environmentally friendly ways. Alex Johnson of the Freshwater Trust sums up the projects by saying, “Natural infrastructure only gets more valuable. Every other type of asset depreciates.”

Read the full story.


Webinar: Working with Conservation Districts

ASDWA and GWPC will conduct a free webinar to showcase the new Source Water Collaborative Toolkit and share state source water program experiences from Minnesota and Nebraska in developing relationships and working with their conservation district partners. Please encourage your colleagues to participate. This webinar is ideal for state drinking water, ground water, clean water, and agriculture programs, EPA Regions, and other interested stakeholders. 3 April 2014. [1:00 – 2:30 PM EDT. ] Online.

Learn more here.

2014 Water Policy Conference

An impressive slate of legislators and policymakers have joined the lineup for AMWA’s 2014 Water Policy Conference in April. Key members of Congress and Administration officials will share their insights on national developments that will affect the nation’s water utilities in months and years to come. Attendees will also have the opportunity to share their views with the speakers. 6-9 April 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

Webinar: Natural Capital Markets for Watershed Services: Actors, Mechanisms, and Impacts

Natural Capital Markets (NCM) together with Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) will focus on the use of market (based) instruments to conserve watershed services. In particular, the role of different actors such as the private sector and local communities will be discussed. Panelists will also explore leading and emerging models for investments in natural capital. The webinar will be based on findings from a NCM study on PES (Payments for Ecosystem Services) and biodiversity offsets, and findings from latest recent EM publication “Payments for Watershed Services: An Executive Summary for Business.” 16 April 2014. [16:00 CET/10:00 EDT; will run for about one hour.] Online.

Learn more here.

Groundwater Summit 2014

This annual meeting will focus on “10 years of moving research to solutions.” Participants will have the opportunity to model, explore, characterize, bank, inject, extract, treat, and predict all subsurface needs with everything groundwater related. 4-7 May 2014. Denver CO, USA.

Learn more here.

Accelerating Sustainability: Energy and Water in Your Operations and Supply Chains

You slashed your water consumption. You shrank your energy bill. You improved efficiencies in your supply chain. Now what? It’s time to put sustainability to work for your business. Join us on May 6 to learn innovative sustainability strategies that can enhance your brand, cut cost, and grow revenue faster and at greater scale. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Accelerating Sustainability Forum, in partnership with the US Business Council for Sustainable Development, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and SustainAbility, we will bring together some of the greatest minds and proven practitioners from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to explore two approaches — enhanced, scaled collaboration and sustainability-driven innovation. These concepts are redefining what businesses can achieve around energy and water use that delivers shared value for your business, society, and the environment. Through visionary speakers, action-oriented sessions, and ample networking opportunities, you will work with other sustainability leaders to refine the partnerships, tools, and techniques you need to create the energy and water solutions to accelerate transformative change. Early Bird pricing ends March 31st! 6 May 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

2014 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on training and education sessions and important regulatory updates. Learn from & network with the 400+ attendees the conference draws, offering perspectives from bankers, regulators, and users. 6-9 May 2014. Denver CO, USA.

Learn more here.

Business & Ecosystems Training

Join the the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on May 7 for their Business Ecosystems Training. Hosted at the Chamber of Commerce, this one-day training provides businesses with state-of-the-art information and tools for integrating natural capital into your business decisions. Understand how to minimize the risks and capture the opportunities for your company related to water, GHG, and natural systems. 7 May 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.

3rd Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology

The Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology is a meeting of stream ecologists held approximately every five years aiming to further the scientific study of stream ecosystems in urban landscapes. In 2014, the third symposium will be held in Portland in the days preceding the joint meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). The theme of SUSE3 will be mechanisms: both in the broad sense of landscape-scale drivers of ecological change and in the detailed sense of small-scale drivers of in-stream biotic response. At the broad scale, the symposium aims to further our understanding of variation in dominant mechanisms in different regions of the globe. 15-17 May 2014. Portland OR, USA.

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. Deadline for proposals for many session formats is March 31st! 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


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