This Week in Water: Peru Steps Up

Influenced by what many cities around the world have done to protect their watersheds, now Lima hopes to protect its watershed in the Peruvian Andes with the Watershed Services Incubator, while Philadelphia comes up with a plan to finance green infrastructure and provide incentives for private landowners to implement green retrofits. Also, Thailand is developing PES initiatives for soil and watershed protection.    

Influenced by what many cities around the world have done to protect their watersheds, now Lima hopes to protect its watershed in the Peruvian Andes with the Watershed Services Incubator, while Philadelphia comes up with a plan to finance green infrastructure and provide incentives for private landowners to implement green retrofits. Also, Thailand is developing PES initiatives for soil and watershed protection.      

This article originally appeared in the Water Log Newsletter.   Click here to view the original.

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”   – Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)

14 May 2012 | This spring is no exception. Yesterday one very exciting new project was launched: a new Watershed Services Incubator in Peru, through a partnership between the  Peruvian Ministry of Environment  and  Forest Trends, with the support of the  Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The Incubator will foster a new wave of projects using incentive mechanisms to drive investment in sustainable water management and community stewardship.


“Today, Peru has said that it will set an example for the world by committing to a national policy of taking on natural infrastructure approaches to address their water crisis,” said Michael Jenkins, president of Forest Trends. “The Incubator is designed to show how support at the national level can leverage ingenuity from local initiatives to create real solutions for one of the biggest challenges we face today–the protection of our natural water resources.”


In this month’s Water Log, we find other new projects springing up around the world – including a national payments for ecosystem services initiative in Thailand, proposed source water protection incentives in  Oregon, and a $2 billion commitment to green infrastructure in  Philadelphia.


We also recommend that you take a look at the latest in the  Murray-Darling basin draft plan debate, read an  excellent interview  with RUPES Indonesia Site Coordinator Rachman Pasha, and if you’ve still got time, watch a  free lecture  on issues in water governance and economics, hosted by the Global Water Forum.


We aim to bring you the most important stories in the watershed payments world every month in this newsletter. But did you know we also have a  daily news feed  at Watershed Connect, if you just can’t stand to wait that long? And as always, if you know of a story that the payments for watershed services community should know about, please share it with us! Suggestions for Water Log content can be emailed to  [email protected].  


— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

EM Headlines


Can Peru’s Swiss-Style Mountaintop Finance Ease The Global Water Crisis?



The City of Lima gets much of its water from natural catchments high in the Peruvian Andes – just as the city of Berne gets much of its from the Swiss Alps, New York gets much of its from the Catskills, Denver gets much of its from surrounding forests, and Dar es Salaam gets much of its from the Eastern Arc Mountains.  Each of these cities has learned that its economy depends on the health of the watershed within which it resides, and each has decided that it makes better economic sense to maintain the watershed than to deal with inconsistent and contaminated water supplies.


Now Lima has joined the club, with a little help from the Berne-based Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), by launching the Watershed Services Incubator.  The program is being spearheaded by the Peruvian Environment Ministry and Forest Trends (the NGO that publishes Ecosystem Marketplace) with three aims: first, to help cities across Peru build financing mechanisms that keep pressure off the watershed; second, to help MINAM build up a regulatory apparatus for keeping the mechanisms honest; and third, to develop a set of best practices that can be exported to other countries.



   – Get the full story here.
   – Read a press release.


Philadelphia Uses Stormwater Fees to Finance Green Infrastructure


The University of Pennsylvania recently started saving $11,000-per-month on the fees it pays the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to handle stormwater runoff at its Philadelphia campus, but the city’s airport isn’t so lucky.  Its bill soared by $126,000 per month – all because the campus is covered in grass and the airport is covered in pavement.


Philadelphia’s come up with a simple way to simultaneously finance the development of new public infrastructure and incentivize a green retrofit among private landowners:  it decided to change the way it assesses stormwater fees – which, for decades, had been based on water usage.  With hundreds of cities across the United States are struggling to deal with stormwater runoff that backs up sewers and endangers water supplies, Philadelphia is experimenting with an innovative financing mechanism that can make the transition easier for all of us — and lucrative for ecosystem entrepreneurs.


   – Read the full story.


New Reports Help Developing Countries Plan for Climate Extremes


Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gas emissions today, developing countries will suffer from climate change for decades to come.  The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) aims to help countries adapt by spreading awareness across Asia, Africa and Latin American and Caribbean regions. CDKN recently launched  a three-part series of reports, Managing Climate Extremes and Disasters: Lessons from the IPCC SREX Report covering each of the Asia, Africa and Latin American and Caribbean regions.


The reports highlight the scientific findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (known as ‘SREX’) for each region, and discuss the implications for society.


   – Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.


USDA to Launch Water Quality Network in September


The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Environmental Markets (OEM) is developing a nationwide network of water quality trading (WQT) programs, slated to become operational in September.  It will consist primarily of projects that earn a share of up to $10 million in targeted Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will award that same month.  Roughly 25 programs are currently under review, and grant recipients will be announced in July.



OEM and NRCS are aiming for programs with buy-in from state environmental protection and agriculture agencies, but the grants are targeted at projects that promote cross-border cooperation, the development of infrastructure programs, and education.  While most CIG requests for proposals (RFP) are generally targeted at general conservation, this round was issued specifically to target regional WQT.  



   – Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.



Payments for Watershed Services Officially On the (Road)Map in the Americas


A new Water Agenda for the Americas has been put forward by a coalition of governments, NGOs, and inter-governmental organizations. Six themes and eleven targets set out a roadmap to water management in the region. Payments for ecosystem services targeting hydrological functions are singled out for praise as a key solution to improving water quality and ecosystem health.


The Agenda also sets out goals for formally implementing the human right to water and access to clean water and sanitation. The document’s stated intention is to “orient the discussion” around water resource management in the Americas and to provide guidance to decision-makers.


   – Download the Agenda (pdf).


New Report: Better Bank on Green


A new report from American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and ECONorthwest  shows how green infrastructure isn’t just often more cost-effective than traditional infrastructure but can deliver energy savings, flood risk mitigation, and public health benefits.  Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide  “addresses the real economic tradeoffs facing local utilities and developers as they consider green vs. conventional infrastructure,” said Mark Buckley, ECONorthwest’s Managing Director.


Case studies demonstrate these benefits in action, but if you’d like to see for yourself, test out the  “Get More Green” tool, also just launched by American Rivers, that lets users model the impacts of greening a roof of their choice.  


   – Read a press release.
   – Download the report.


How to Become a Water Governance Expert Without Getting Up From Your Desk

The Global Water Forum and the Global Development Learning Network have teamed up to offer a series of free online lectures on issues in water economics and governance, with an eye to building capacity and facilitating knowledge transfer. Topics include “Global Water Stocks,” “Risk and Rivers,” “Water Governance,” “Climate Change,” and “Hydropower.” Each runs about two and half hours long and is delivered by  GWF partners at the Australian National University.

   – Access the lectures here.



Don’t Worry, Be Stacky


Surf on over to the Soapbox at Ecosystem Commons, where this week Forest Trends’ Winnie Lau is asking whether we focus too much on additionality – making sure that payments are linked to a change in management – at the expense of encouraging demand for the full suite of ecosystem services that healthy habitats can provide.


“I challenge the community to flip this discussion around,” writes Lau. “Rather than focusing on the supply of ecosystem services and restrictions on payments, what if we instead focus more on creating demand? Afterall, we tout the multiple (currently non-market) values ecosystems services provide. We should put this into practice and capture as much of these values as possible.”


   – Join the conservation at Ecosystem Commons.


In the Murray-Darling, Low Flows But Lots of Turbulence

An ambitious plan to restore Australia’s Murray-Darling basin is in trouble, as two states – New South Wales and Victoria – have rejected the plan altogether, saying that proposed limits on water withdrawals will unfairly punish irrigators, and a third – South Australia – says the cuts don’t go far enough. The river system has faced intense pressures from over-diversion compounded by a twelve-year drought, leading to rising salinity, eutrophication, and habitat degradation. The draft basin plan in addition to diversion limits would subsidize more efficient irrigation infrastructure and buy back water rights from private holders to restore flows in-stream. But at the moment, delays and challenges in court are looking increasingly likely.

   – Get full coverage from Circle of Blue.


RUPES Celebrates Ten Years By Offering Some Trade Secrets

As the ‘Rewards for, Use of, and shared investment in Pro-poor Environmental Services’ (RUPES) program wraps up its second phase and ten years of operation, an interview with Indonesia Site Coordinator Rachman Pasha looks back at key lessons learned and future directions for RUPES. Some key insights: often, non-cash payments like access to micro-hydropower or healthcare make more effective and equitable incentives, a ‘co-investment’ approach tends to support stakeholder cohesion, and good communication is key.  

   – Read the full interview and learn more about RUPES’ work.


Eugene, OR Makes Source Water Protection a V.I.P.


In Oregon, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) is hard at work developing a payments for watershed services mechanism  that would compensate landowners for stewardship contributing to source water protection. Increased turbidity (suspended sediments or other particles) in the McKenzie River Watershed, the city’s sole source of drinking water, has led to rising treatment costs. EWEB proposes a  Voluntary Incentives Program (VIP) to incentivize more watershed-friendly land management practices, potentially financed by water user fees. A  watershed investment district would support fund activities including managing payments, negotiating agreements, and monitoring outcomes. A case study detailing these efforts, released in early April, is now available for download.


   – Read the case study (pdf).


Thailand to Pilot Ecosystem Service Payments in its Protected Areas

Thailand’s government has announced plans to trial payments for ecosystem services (PES) mechanisms in five national parks and a wildlife sanctuary. The financing mechanism has yet to be determined, with voluntary contributions (possibly in the form of eco-tourism fees or corporate social responsibility initiatives) or legal drivers both being considered.  The new PES initiative will likely focus on soil and watershed protection and is being developed in partnership with the UN Development Program, with an eye to using PES to harness finance for conservation in protected areas.  Hydroelectric power and tourism operators in the country already pay fees to compensate communities protecting watershed services, pursuant to a 2009 law.  

   – Read more at the Bangkok Post.


Facing Low Spring Flows, Colorado Water Trust Steps Up


After an  abnormally warm winter  in the US, snowpack around Denver is at 38% percent of normal. That’s bad news for spring flows and the habitats that depend on them in Colorado watersheds. In response, the  Colorado Water Trust  has sprang into action to arrange short-term leases from water rights holders in key basins – a great example of market mechanism flexibility. The water leased will be left in-stream to ensure that flows will be available to support ecological functions.  


   – Read an interview with CWT Executive Director Amy Beatie at Lotic Water’s blog.


Dispatches From the Water-Food-Energy Nexus


A National Geographic piece looks at the water-food-energy nexus in its many forms around the world, and finds that threats to these linkages look worringly similar. Groundwater withdrawal in places like China, India, and the Middle East is locked in an unhealthy relationship with rising energy use, unsustainable agricultural practices, and environmental degradation. “Potential impacts,” notes the article, “include not only dry aquifers and failing farms, but increased soil salinity and carbon dioxide emissions.”  


True-cost pricing for electricity is put forward as one solution – since this vicious circle is usually founded on big energy subsidies – as is giving water users incentives to conserve.  The Columbia Water Center’s work in Gujarat India rewarding farmers who reduce consumption and deploying more efficient irrigation technologies is highlighted as an innovative approach to the interlinked challenges posed by meeting food demands in an era of growing water and energy insecurity.  


   – Read the full story at National Geographic.


Green Infrastructure Gains Ground in Connecticut


Residents of Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut, may soon be seeing green infrastructure (GI) coming to town.  Save the Sound,  a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, last month released results from a ‘feasibility scan’ scoping where and how green infrastructure might fit into stormwater management strategies. The study looked at the  feasibility of GI controls, demonstration project opportunities, implementation approaches, and financing mechanisms.


The scan also shows results from an initial cost-benefit analysis identifying  instances where green infrastructure is more cost-effective (in management costs per gallon of stormwater per year)  than its ‘gray’ counterpart, a large detention tank.  Blue roofs (which capture and store rainwater) and bioretention were found to be especially cost-competitive, and look even better when co-benefits like aesthetics, carbon sequestration, and habitat values are considered.  


   – Get more coverage from the Branford Patch.
   – Download the feasibility scan (pdf).



Water Risk Disclosure and Analysis Webinar


Water risk is fast rising up the corporate agenda – and investors are paying increasing interest, driven by earnings shocks caused by flooding, drought or pollution incidents. But what information should companies collect, and disclose, and how are investors approaching this complex issue? This 90-minute webinar will offer a comprehensive introduction to an increasingly pressing environmental exposure.  10 May 2012. 14:30 UK time / 15:30 CEST / 9:30 EDT (approx 90 minutes). Online.


   – Learn more.


Webinar: Achieving Environmental Goals through Water Utility-based Incentive Programs


This webinar is the second installment in The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center’s webinar series focused on innovative approaches to link water use and the environment.  The theme for this webinar is, “Achieving Environmental Goals through Water Utility-based Incentive Programs.” 10 May 2012,  at 1:00pm MST/12:00pm PST. 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.


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.


2012 Yale Conservation Finance Camp


The 6th annual Yale Conservation Finance Camp will be held at Yale University, Monday, June 4 through Friday, June 8, 2012. The course offers the latest information on a wide range of innovative conservation finance tools, including new sources of philanthropic funds, public capital and private investment, as well as a framework for analyzing and packaging them. The camp is focused on useful, hands-on tools for conservation practitioners and board members, foundation leaders, private investors and graduate students. This highly interactive course is limited to 20 participants. Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. For further information and a participant application please contact Amy Badner at [email protected] or visit the camp webpage. 4-8 June 2012. New Haven, CT.  


   – Learn more.


Workshop: Regulatory and Institutional Frameworks for Markets for Ecosystem Services


This workshop seeks to contribute to research and learning on the law and policy on ecosystems services by focusing on the regulatory and institutional challenges in creating markets for ecosystems services. The workshop goal is to enable outcome-oriented interaction between experts, innovators, and front-end users of these evolving market models to learn about recent progress, what strategies can be adopted to encourage cross-learning between different models for regulatory and institutional frameworks, and how to design new institutional and regulatory mechanisms that can help preserve ecosystem services? The workshop will enable the development of collaborative projects between participants on the elaboration of methodological tools for the development of regulatory and institutional frameworks for ecosystems services. 6 June 2012 – 7 June 2012. University of Surrey, UK.


   – 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.


5th Annual International ESP Conference


The Ecosystem Services Partnership invites you to the 5th annual ESP conference. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others.  Be part of working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters (if enough we can put together a book out of this conference), grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. This conference is being organised jointly with the International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) and A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES). 31 July – 4 August 2012. Portland, Oregon, United States.


   – 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.





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