This Week In Water: With Water Energy Nexus, It’s Lead Or Be Led

Ecosystem Marketplace is at the One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles this week where everyone is thinking about the water-energy nexus. Meanwhile, Australia’s newly elected government reduces funds for Murray-Darling buybacks and Coca-Coca enters into a partnership with the USDA to protect US National Forests.

Ecosystem Marketplace is at the One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles this week where everyone is thinking about the water-energy nexus. Meanwhile, Australia’s newly elected government reduces funds for Murray-Darling buybacks and Coca-Coca enters into a partnership with the USDA to protect US National Forests.

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

25 September 2013 | In August, the Chinese leadership announced an initiative to cut dependence on coal in a dozen major cities in the country. Plans for new coal plants will be cancelled, mines closed, and utility prices increased. On the heels of that news comes the prediction that a carbon tax will likely be introduced in China by 2016, in tandem with a national emissions trading system.

Why are we talking about carbon and coal in a newsletter about water? Well, because you can’t make meaningful progress on one set of problems without tackling the other. The coal industry in China uses as much as 20% of the country’s water. The country’s water crisis is putting tremendous pressure on its energy supplies, and vice versa. In India, financing for coal power has dried up due to lender concerns about water risk surrounding those projects.

This is not a problem unique to emerging economies. This week, we’re reporting to you from the One Water Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, California – a state where water infrastructure accounts for the single greatest use of energy. With tremendous water infrastructure investments required in the USA and around the world in coming decades, it’s worth asking what that means in terms of increased energy demands.

The good news is that we have a choice between taking advantage of the energy-water nexus, or being trapped by it. A recent report from The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, suggests that a shift to renewable energy sources in the United States could lead to a 97% drop in water withdrawals for power by 2050.


The trick will be to advance major change in two sectors – water and energy – not known for their quick metamorphosis. Here in Los Angeles, just about every presentation so far has referred to “innovation” – whether in regards to roofing Californian aqueducts with solar panels or micro-hydro installations in water piping systems.

A good start might be in the articles below. This month’s Water Log briefing brings you a host of news on projects like incentives for better land management in China, Arizona, Peru, and Nepal, or new opportunities for business in the US clean water space. Like energy and water, these cases offer a “two-fer” – an opportunity to achieve interdependent goals like poverty alleviation and environmental protection, or water risk mitigation and business opportunities.


On a final note, if you value our monthly briefings, consider a small donation to help us keep the lights on. As a non-profit, we’re committed to increasing transparency around environmental investments, and making sure everyone has access to that information free of charge. If you’d like to support that mission, keep in mind that just $150 gets you listed in our sidebar for a full year; we also offer tile ads in the news briefs or on our home page. Click here to donate or shoot us an email.

Happy reading,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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EM Headlines


In The Colorado Delta, A Little Water Goes A Long Way

For years, scientists assumed the Colorado River delta – where a young Aldo Leopold once paddled his canoe through “a hundred green lagoons” abounding with life – was a dead ecosystem. For years, virtually no water was left for environmental health after seven US states and Mexico took their share. The Colorado, over-allocated by sixteen percent, hasn’t reached the sea in fifteen years. Nine-tenths of the original wetlands are gone. Much of the delta has become desert.


But a coalition of non-governmental organizations spanning the US-Mexico border think they can bring the delta back. “This as an ecosystem with high resiliency, and we have learned that with a little bit of water we can achieve significant restoration,” says Osvel Hinojosa, Pronatura Noroeste‘s Water and Wetlands program director. Using water rights markets, recaptured wastewater, and a groundbreaking new federal deal, the Colorado River Delta Water Trust is breathing new life into an ecosystem widely assumed to be gone forever.

Read more at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Trading Bill Pledges To Reduce Cost And Improve Results, But Will It Work?

Ed Schafer and Harry Campbell both say they want to clean the Chesapeake Bay. They even seem to agree on the need to stifle the flow of animal waste into the Bay from farms. What they can’t agree on, however, is how Pennsylvania should structure its nutrient trading program, and specifically whether technologies like manure treatment should be recognized in that program.


Proponents like Schafer want to create a competitive bidding process designed to recognize the most effective method of reducing nutrients, and they claim Senate bill 994 will produce better ecological results than techniques being used currently while cutting the cost of Bay cleanup for taxpayers by up to 80%.


But opponents like Campbell argue this competitive bidding process allows for nutrient reduction strategies that don’t comply with state and federal regulations, which means they will generate credits that companies can’t use to meet their nutrient reduction requirements.

Keep reading.

In The News


Incoming Australian Government Puts a Pinch on Funding for Buybacks in the Murray-Darling

True to their last-minute campaign promise, Australia’s newly-elected Coalition government says it plans to slow spending on water buybacks in the Murray Darling and shift to a greater focus on irrigation infrastructure upgrades, according to recent statements by Shadow parliamentary secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin Simon Birmingham.


The new plan spreads AUD $650 million (USD $609 million) planned initially for four years of buybacks – i.e. purchasing and effectively retiring water allocations in the Basin to return water to the river – over six years instead. That means AUD $174 in cuts in 2014-2014 and more than $200 million in each of the following years. Nevertheless, Birmingham says the Basin plan is on track to meet its full goals by 2019.

Read more from ABC News.

Conservation Innovation Grants Take on Ag Water Pollution

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced earlier this month the recipients of 2013’s Conservation Innovation Grants. More than $8 million (out of a $13.3 million portfolio) went to projects targeting water quality and source water protection. There was a big focus on the agricultural sector, with a number of grants supporting research and demonstration on next-level nutrient management at universities across the country. Other funded projects ranged from plans for a Central Valley Habitat Exchange focusing on floodplain habitat credits in California (implemented by American Rivers) to research on bioreactors to manage agricultural pollution (Cornell). A number of grants were awarded to efforts addressing nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, including rolling out manure injection technologies (National Fish & Wildlife Foundation), agricultural drainage management (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University), and floodplain forest restoration (The Nature Conservancy).

Read a press release (pdf).
View a list of the grantees.

A Very Quick Roundup of Water Reports

With World Water Week and the ESP conference taking place in recent weeks, there’s been a bit of a deluge of new reports on all things water. Your Water Log editors have taken it on themselves to pick a few highlights: you might want to take a longer look at the following.



Coca Coca & USDA Team Up On Watershed Protection in National Forests

A new agreement between the US Department of Agriculture and Coca-Cola will see the latter funding several million dollars (precise amount TBD) worth of restoration projects on national forest lands. The venture builds on two years of past partnership rehabilitating watershed functions in six sites across the country. Funded projects will continue to focus on areas where Coca-Cola sources its water supplies; the company has committed to replenishing its water use in full by 2020. Funds will be administered through the National Forest Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “We need to look creatively at ways to leverage our resources or attract outside resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Water stewardship is a key focus because … it’s in every product,” added Bruce Karas, Coca Cola’s vice president of environment and sustainability for North America.

Keep reading at the Washington Post.

Measuring Eco-Compensation Cost-Benefits in China’s Miyun Reservoir

With water levels and pollution problems growing in the Miyun reservoir (Beijing’s largest) China’s Paddy Land-to-Dry Land (PLDL) program began paying farmers to switch from rice to corn production, compensating them for foregone income. Four years later, according a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the program has sharply reduced fertilizer runoff, increased reservoir levels, and improved local livelihoods. An average investment of $1,330 per hectare translated into $2,020 in water quality benefits; overall the ratio of benefits to costs for upstream and downstream parties is estimated at 1.5.

Read a summary.
Download the paper (pdf).

Monterrey Water Fund Launches With $5M in the Pot for Watershed Protection

A new water fund in Monterrey, Mexico launched this month with $5 million to finance reforestation, soil restoration, and other efforts in the San Juan River watershed. The Monterrey Metropolitan Water Fund is the latest established with the aid of the Latin American Water Funds Partnership, a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, bottling company FEMSA, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility. It enjoys broad support: the fund boasts as partners 23 companies, 16 government institutions, 16 civil society organizations, and 4 universities. “This Fund will focus on four key objectives: help mitigate flooding, improve water infiltration, raise awareness about water, and work alongside the government to attract resources in favor of the watershed,” said Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, at a launch event.

Read more at Huffington Post.
Background on the fund is available here.

In Arizona, Incentives for Irrigation Improvements Pay Off

For 150 years, farmers in Arizona’s Verde River basin have drawn their water from the same system of irrigation ditches. Some years, the entirety of the river would be diverted into the ditches for long stretches, and often not even fully used. Irrigators in the area for the most part don’t like the idea of dewatering the Verde, but managing water levels in ditches required the ditch company boss to go out and manually adjust the gates. And with no provisions in Arizona recognizing environmental flows as a ‘beneficial use’ of a water right, farmers were concerned they’d forfeit the right to any water they didn’t use. A new effort backed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) helped the community find a clever solution: TNC pays for automated gates that allow irrigators to control ditch levels from a cell phone. The upgrade helps farmers limit their diversions, and maintain minimum flow levels in the Verde. If they meet flow targets, they get an another payment, which will likely fund additional irrigation upgrades.

Read the full story at National Geographic’s Water Currents Blog.

Source Water Protection Project in Nepal Pays Women in Cash, Food, and Opportunity

A source water protection project in western Nepal backed by the World Food Project’s Livelihoods and Assets Creation Programme is compensating local residents for watershed protection, through an approach that develops skills, reduces food insecurity, and is creating new opportunities for women in the village of Paira. The project funded work on cattle exclusion from streambanks, bank stabilization, and installing clean water taps. In exchange for their labor, villagers received cash and food. One woman, Dhaulidevi Bohara, says she earned NPR5,100 (USD $48.60), which she used to purchase school supplies for her children and other necessities, as well as 150 kilograms of rice and 15 kilograms of lentils.


“I am usually dependent on my husband’s income to run the household, but this project has helped me get some work experience and earn some money…This project has given me so much,” she says. “I got employed, I learned different work skills and I received an equal wage as that of a male co-worker, which has really helped me and my family.”

Learn more.

Peruvian Project Setting Big Precedents

A new piece at the Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog details a compensation program, or rewards for hydro-ecosystem services scheme (RHES) as the authors call it, developing in Peru’s Caí±ete River Basin. Researchers supporting the project estimate that water availability to farmers int he lower basin is worth around $0.0017 to $0.0417 per m3, with values rising along with scarcity. That’s more than users currently pay for access; the good news is that 86% of commerical and domestic users polled said they’d be willing to contribute to a water fund. One local challenge is a lack of clear title to land in many cases. That makes it difficult to monitor effects of the project on people’s moving to the basin to participate in the project, or away from it to avoid land use restrictions.

The project’s appeal extends beyond this watershed: it’s an official pilot site for the Peruvian govenrment’s efforts to back such projects, and lessons learned in the Caí±ete will likely be integrated into a new law promoting compensation projects. “There is huge replicability potential,” says Marcela Quintero of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. “This basin is representative of all 53 basins along the Peruvian coast, so if this RHES scheme works, it can be applicable to any of those watersheds.”

Learn more here.

Water Quality the Next Big One for Business?

With municipalities hit with sticker shock by the estimated costs of continued water quality compliance, even while local spending on clean water at an all-time high, water quality could be big business for the private sector, according to the latest issue of Green Economy. A US Conference of Mayors report earlier this year estimates the market for clean water in the US at $1.7-$3.7 trillion per annum. Ratepayers are beginning to balk, which means the time is ripe for the private sector to step in with cost-effective solutions to problems like nutrient pollution from sewage treatment, stormwater, and agricultural runoff. The piece details a few of these, including water quality trading, competitive procurement processes, and public private partnerships. As former Governor Edward Shafer puts it, ““This is changing the investment community. How can we deal with private sector investment on critical issues, instead of taking tax dollars and making decisions on risk not opportunity?”

Read a press release.
Read the article (pdf).


The WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition

The WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, presented by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and numerous forward-thinking organizations, is the largest urban-water efficiency conference of its kind in the world. Last year, WSI drew more than 900 participants from 34 states and the District of Columbia, as well as seven foreign nations. This year, as it has for the last five years, WSI will feature featured a full slate of comprehensive professional sessions and an expo hall highlighting the latest in water-efficient products and services. The event also will feature several affordable pre-show workshops (which are not included with the WSI registration fee) on Tuesday, October 1. 2-4 October, 2013. Las Vegas, USA.

Learn more here.

2nd International Conference on Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Development

Environmental degradation, particularly climate change, is augmenting the impact of natural disasters, thus seriously affecting food security ensured through the sustainable production of agricultural crops, livestock and fisheries. Sustainable development is a certain compromise among environmental, economic, and social goals of community, allowing for wellbeing for the present and future generations. Designing appropriate policies and strategies that lead to conservation of natural ecosystems and biological diversity and ecologically sustainable development in the era of climate change is not an option but a necessity. ECOCASD 2013 will be a rendezvous of those researchers and academicians working on cutting edge areas of ecosystem management and sustainable development and is a platform to share innovative ideas on ecosystem conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation and sustainable development. 3-5 October 2013. Kerala, India.

Learn more here.

5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration

The SER2013 World Conference on Ecological Restoration: Reflections on the Past, Directions for the Future will bring together more than 1,200 delegates from around the world interested in the science and practice of ecological restoration as it relates to natural resource management, climate change responses, biodiversity conservation, local and indigenous communities, environmental policy and sustainable livelihoods. 6-11 October 2013. Madison WI, USA.

Learn more here.

Peoples, Land, and Water: The Natural Connection

Land and water has always been the immediate surroundings of peoples in all existences and continents. It has always been the base on which Man depends on for his existence. Land serves as home, a nutrient-filled and agricultural base, a thoroughfare, a religious base, et cetera. Water is all important beginning with the human body made up of water, water also serves as nourishment, used for cooking and the rivers, streams and oceans are home for very many habitats necessary for life. Wars have been fought to protect and preserve land and water space meaning that they are fundamental resource for human survival. Prevailing civilizations and epochs are chronicled with the effects these constituents have on human life. The conference therefore would like to explore these great connections from the humanities, science and social science perspectives. The hope of the conference is to discuss the interconnectedness or relatedness of these three theatres of life for existence/ living and chart a model or value system for the preservation of the resources and sustainable use by the human society. Deadline for Abstracts is October 6th! 3-6 November 2013. Contonou, Republic of Benin.

Learn more here.

Sustainable Water Management Conference

Presenting solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing infrastructure, developing robust supply models and watershed management plans, water reuse, resource management, green infrastructure and more. 30 March – 2 April 2014. Denver CO, USA.

Learn more here.


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