This Week In Water: The Art Of The Nutrient Credit Sale

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

The Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) moves its water quality trading program in the Ohio River Basin into a new stage with the upcoming public auction of stewardships generated during the first three years of the project. Also, a new framework on catchment-based management for the mining industry offers sector-specific guidance.

27 February 2015 | When Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana signed on to the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project in 2012, the effort represented the first interstate trading program in the country.
Three years later, the project’s pilot sites are starting to crank out nutrient reduction credits through activities like planting cover crops and created treatment wetlands for animal wastes. The project’s leader, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is preparing for its latest milestone: a public auction of credits.

Many components of this project have been firsts, and the April auction will be one as well. On April 16th, forty people will be in NYC sitting in front of laptops making bids and buys on 100,000 pounds of nutrient pollution. Participants will be able to see the stewardship credits available through the project’s online trading registry. And it’s an open auction so buyers will be able to see everyone’s bids.


“We’re looking for the most efficient and easiest method for people to participate,” says Jessica Fox, a program manager at EPRI and the lead on its water quality trading efforts.


Fox says they chose an open auction because of its competitive nature. Ideally, participants hoping to make a positive impact (and get public recognition for it) will feel compelled to beat out other bidders by bidding each other up. EPRI hopes that half of the participants will be corporations – many of them likely competitors in the business world. Learn more about EPRI’s auction experiment at Ecosystem Marketplace.


In this month’s Water Log, we also have coverage of Sao Paulo’s water crisis, new guidance on catchment-based management for the mining industry, and a new public-private collaboration on watershed restoration in China.


Don’t forget to take a look at the events and jobs sections at the bottom – there’s some good stuff this month.


Dive right in!

The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

EM Headlines


Forest Trends Wins MacArthur Prize

Nine organizations around the world are to receive MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, including Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends, which is being honored for its work in forest conservation. The $1 million prize “recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.”
Since its inception more than 20 years ago, Forest Trends has been focused on recognizing the economic value of our natural ecosystems and upending the way people think about the value of a forest. “When we started Forest Trends, our goal was to create incentives around what we call ecosystem services,” says Michael Jenkins, CEO of Forest Trends. “So, in a sense, making that tropical forest more valuable than an acre of soybeans.” Simply put, making forests and other landscapes worth more alive than dead.
The recipients were announced last week. Forest Trends will use the money to expand its work in conservation.

Learn more.

Study Sees $1.6 Billion For Blue Carbon In Louisiana Wetlands

A two-year assessment of the potential to develop blue carbon projects on Louisiana’s coast estimates that carbon finance revenue can provide up to $1.6 billion in critical funding to assist with wetland restoration over the next 50 years. The study, supported by Entergy Corporation through their Environmental Initiatives Fund, and prepared in partnership by New Orleans-based Tierra Resources and Portland-based nonprofit The Climate Trust, examines existing wetland restoration techniques river diversions, hydrologic restoration, wetland assimilation, and mangrove plantings identifying areas for future scientific investigation to support carbon offset programs.


Findings from the report will be shared by Tierra Resources and the American Carbon Registry at a free national webinar, scheduled for March 5, 2015, at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Learn more from Ecosystem Marketplace.

Opinion: Can Putting A Price On Environmental Risk Mainstream Corporate Sustainability?

As it stands, some companies take environmental issues and sustainability seriously but the majority don’t. Here, Ivo Mulder, the REDD+ Green Economy Advisor for UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), argues how quantifying environmental risks in monetary terms may be necessary to convince the bulk of corporations to follow suit.

Read the opinion piece.

A Different Kind Of Sale: April Auction Offers Stewardship CreditsTo Meet Sustainability Goals

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is holding a public auction to sell the stewardship credits generated during the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project’s pilot phase. While success isn’t certain, developers of the historic project are sure significant lessons will be learned in terms of moving forward with water quality trading.

Ecosystem Marketplace has coverage.

In The News


Environmental Degradation Means Brazil’s Megacity is Running on Empty

The historic drought gripping Sao Paulo, Brazil may be an act of nature, but there’s no question it was induced by human activity. Pollution and deforestation are two big factors in a drought that has left residents in Brazil’s largest and wealthiest city without water for days. Surrounding forests and wetlands that soaked up rains and released it into reservoirs have been destroyed. Deforestation hundreds of miles away in the Amazon basin is also having an effect: cutting the forest reduces its capacity to release humidity into the air, diminishing rainfall in adjacent areas such as the Sao Paulo region. Outlook on the crisis remains grim, with water specialists saying the drought may be in only its early stages.

Read more from the New York Times.

Natural Capital Accounting Arrives in the Philippines

The Philippines is one nation taking natural capital seriously. Its National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has partnered with the World Bank to assess the nation’s health and establish natural capital accounting through the new “Philippines-Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Global Partnership Program or Phil-WAVES. Accounting for natural capital is important for all countries, but especially important for developing nations like the Philippines, where it makes up an estimated third of the nation’s wealth. Such a system would improve development planning and cast a new light on true economic performance. “If we are able to measure changes in natural capital, that gives us an idea about sustainability of developments and design polices in order to address that, NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra told the Manila Times.

The Manila Times has coverage.

The Comeback Kid: Overlooked Wetlands Mitigate Climate Change in a Big Way

New research out of Australia shows that these marshy areas can store up to 33% more carbon than forests. It’s good news for us, in terms of fighting climate change, and good news for wetlands, which have long been destroyed by populations ignorant of their values. About 50% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1990. But this new study joins a growing body of research on the critical services wetlands provide to society. Policymakers are starting to take notice: federal protection programs are strengthening and cities are rebuilding wetlands and incorporating them into new development plans.

The International Business Times has the story.

The Water-Energy-Food-Poverty Nexus?

The fact that the water-energy-food nexus is a relatively new concept hasn’t stopped it from heavily influencing the UN’s post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals – to be officially determined in September. Recently, a group of water professionals laid out a redefined framework of the nexus, taking an inclusive approach that addresses poverty and social inequalities while meeting sustainability goals – a rethinking that highlights how the nexus rests at the heart of many development challenges.


Learn more here.

Cities Usher in a Resilient Future with Green Infrastructure

When it comes to green infrastructure, cities around the world are recognizing its potential. Cities like Copenhagen and New York are initiating green plans that include convex streets and pervious parks to handle unpredictable weather. City administrators and planners – whether in Chinese mega-cities or Pittsburgh – highlight green infrastructure benefits like water security and resiliency. As Stuart Gaffin, a professor and researcher at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York, puts it, “While governments are mired in negotiations, cities are leaping forward. City populations recognize the threats from climate change

Get the full story at Digital Journal.


Arkansas Contemplates Nutrient Trading

Arkansas appears to be the next state looking into water quality trading. A bill currently in the state House suggests that such a program could help clean watersheds in a cost-effective way. As usual, trading advocates and opponents have made their opinions known. Supporters note its cost-effectiveness and use in other regions, like the Midwest and Southeast, to reduce nutrients in heavily polluted waterways. Those opposed highlighted the difficulty in managing a nutrient trading program and measuring results accurately. The bill is currently under review by the House Health Committee.

Learn more.

Watershed Restoration Builds Sustainable Business and Communities in China

The Dongjiang River in China’s Jiangsu Province is getting a makeover. Danone Waters China (DWC), the supplier of Chinese bottled-water brands and a child of the multinational food and beverage company Danone recently announced a partnership with a municipal government and NGOs IUCN and Friends of the Earth to fund restoration of the Dongjiang River. The project has the potential to improve water quality for the 50 million people living within the basin, while also helping to ensure DWC’s sustainable water consumption.

Get more from the Global Times.

New Guidance on Catchment-Based Management for the Mining Sector

New guidance from the International Council on Metals (ICMM) walks mining companies through catchment-based water management. A practical guide to catchment-based water management for the mining and metals industry offers an industry-specific framework for water risk assessment and response (internal actions and broader responses at the basin level), with an emphasis on stakeholder engagement throughout the process. The guidance was launched at a high-level roundtable in Cape Town, South Africa, co-hosted by the International Finance Corporation.

Learn more at Environmental Expert.
Download the report (pdf).

California’s Paso Robles Basin Moves Forward With Groundwater Offset Rules

A controversial decision to draft a new ordinance requiring water offsets for agricultural groundwater withdrawals squeaked past the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors this month. The ordinance, a placeholder til a basin-wide sustainable groundwater management plan is adopted, requires that new plantings in the Paso Robles basin be ‘water neutral’. The new ordinance also replaces an emergency ordinance that expires on August 27th, 2015.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune has the story.

Businesses Do More With Less in the Colorado River Basin

The state of Arizona recently found out just how important the Colorado River is to its economy. A study quantifiying the river’s worth found that 60% of gross state product – and 2.1 million jobs – is tied to the basin. Many businesses in the region are taking this dependency seriously. A coalition made up of 1,100 companies operating in the Colorado River Basin demonstrated smart conservation and efficiency techniques during two business summits. Coca-Cola also showed up to discuss its water neutrality goal and its investments in irrigation and other infrastructure in Arizona. All businesses present highlighted how water saving solutions reduced operational risk and waste, cut costs across the board, and spurred the development of innovative new water-efficient products.

Learn more from AZ Central.

A Budding Friendship between Farmers and Water Providers

Authors of a white paper out this month are optimistic it will encourage innovative partnerships for holistic water management. Collaborating for Healthy Watersheds is itself a collaborative effort between several water organizations including the US Water Alliance and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The paper describes nine municipal-agriculture partnerships addressing water quality and nutrient pollution problems at a watershed level. “What’s become increasingly evident is that collaboration between agriculture and the water sector is key to water sustainability, explains Dick Champion, U.S. Water Alliance Chair. “This report represents progress in that direction.

Get coverage from Water Tech Online.
Read a press release.

Hawaii’s Water Managers go High-Tech

Hawaii’s forests and watersheds just got a little more technologically advanced. Tools like satellites, high-resolution cameras and aerial footage can help land managers monitor invasive species in fragile ecosystems that are difficult or impossible to reach on foot. Hawaii has a problem with wild pigs and goats and invasive plants that either trample or choke native life. And the seemingly simple solution of building fences to keep the invasives out is not so simple because of the state’s mountainous-or treacherous- terrain. But with this new technology, managers can identify foreign life faster and over a wider area. It’s effective, though costly. (A single unmanned aerial vehicle like the ones used in Hawaii can cost more than $10,000.)

Read more from Circle of Blue.

The Business-Whisperers of the Conservation Community Share a Tip

Accustomed to thinking in nice concrete terms like “dollars,” it’s difficult for the private sector to find value in ‘invisible’ aquifers or in forests for their role in the water cycle. But given hard facts – like the fact that mangrove forests in Thailand are worth up to 20 times more for their role in flood protection and carbon sequestration than as wood for products – some management teams are willing to change. Speaking in financial terms resonates with the business community, those in the natural capital space say, and proper understanding could result in an economy driven by sustainable growth. Companies like Unilever and Puma, for example, are incorporating ecosystem services into their value chains.

Learn more at CSR Asia.


Sustainable Water Management Conference

The conference presents solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing water resources, sustainable utilities and infrastructure, urban planning and design, energy efficiency, water conservation, stormwater and reuse. 15-18 March 2015. Portland OR, USA.

Learn more here.

Green Infrastructure Workshop

The NY/NJ Baykeeper, in conjunction with Newark DIG! (Doing Infrastructure Green), will be hosting a workshop on green infrastructure’s economic benefits. This workshop is geared toward property developers and the business community.

Panelists include:


  • Larry Levine, Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC)
  • Chris Obropta, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program
  • Kyra Hoffman – NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)


Those who wish to attend should RSVP by March 17th here. 24 March 2015. Newark NJ, USA.

Learn more here.

First Water Stewardship Credit Auction April 2015

Meet Sustainability Goals. Offset Supply Chain Impacts. Support Farmers. Improve Water Quality. Private dollars have been invested in farm management practices to improve water quality, support farmers, and provide important ecosystem benefits in the Ohio River Basin, the world’s largest water quality trading project. Now, the resulting credits are available for purchase in the effort’s first public auction! Backed by science, metrics, and state approvals, “stewardship credits” can be applied toward sustainability goals, offsetting supply chain impacts, or even Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) obligations in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. 100% of proceeds are re-invested back into the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading program to advance more conservation. Network with like-minds! The auction will be held in March 2015 in New York City. Must be physically present to participate. Must be pre-approved by February 1st. No non-participating observersFor more information, visit the Ohio River Basin Trading Project website. 16 April 2015. New York NY, USA.

Learn more here.

2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The 2015 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference, scheduled for May 5-8, 2015, in Orlando, Florida is the only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on sessions and training as well as important regulatory updates. Proven to be “the” place to gain insights, explore new markets and learn from sessions, the 2015 Conference will continue its focus on educational content both advanced and basic sessions as well as moderated exchanges and a variety of mini workshops that help to connect bankers, regulators, users and others involved in this industry. Pre and post- event workshops include Primer 101, Stream Banking, Long-Term Stewardship, Financing & Valuation and more. Hear perspectives from bankers, regulators and users, get updated on regulations, legislation and legal challenges, participate in field trips and benefit from the many opportunities to network! With a high attendance this past year, we anticipate a record attendance in Orlando and encourage you to make plans to submit to present, attend, even sponsor or exhibit! Orlando FL, USA. 5-8 May 2015.

Learn more here.

XVth IWRA World Water Congress

Held every three years since 1973, the World Water Congress is one of the most important events in the water field. The Congress provides a large cross-section of players from around the world and from all disciplines with a single forum to connect. The Congress not only allows stakeholders to share experiences and promote discussion, but also to present new knowledge, research and developments in the water discipline. The Congress provides an important platform for placing vital water issues at the forefront of international thinking, policy and management. The XVth Congress follows this tradition through its main theme: Global Water, a Resource for Development: Opportunities, Challenges and Constraints. 25-29 May 2015. Edinburgh, Scotland.

Learn more here.

River Basin Management 2015 Conference

River Basin Management 2015 is the 8th Conference in a series of conferences which marks the growing international interest in the planning, design and management of river basin systems. Changes in the landscape, use of the land and climate conditions lead to a continuous revaluation of river basin management objectives. This requires the development of better measuring tools as well as the use of increasingly accurate computer software. The objective of this series of conferences is to bring together practitioners and researchers in academia and industry in the hope that their interaction will foster mutual understanding and lead to better solutions for river basins. 17-19 June 2015. Coruna, Spain.

Learn more here.

6th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration

SER (Society for Ecological Restoration) 2015 in Manchester aims to be the major restoration event of the year. Building on recent successful world congresses and regional meetings such as SER Europe 2013 in Finland, we hope to attract a large number of academics and practitioners who will share good practice and network successfully in one of the homes of the industrial revolution. The title: “Towards resilient ecosystems: restoring the urban, the rural and the wild should provide something for everyone, whether working in highly urbanised, ex-agricultural, or natural wild environments. We mean this conference to be as inclusive as possible and are keen to showcase not only the important scientific developments, issues and solutions, but also the cultural, educational and artistic aspects of restoration ecology. We are hosting a wide range of different types of events during the conference period, with pre-conference training workshops, conference symposia posters, workshops, and oral presentations, as well as half day field trips to see landscapes at first hand. 23-27 August 2015. Manchester, United Kingdom.

Learn more here.



Consultant, Incentives for Ecosystem Services

FAO – Lazio, Italy

The consultant will work within the framework of the Division’s work on Incentives for Ecosystem Services in Agriculture (IES), specifically the Swiss-financed project “Remuneration of positive externalities/Payments for ecosystem services in the agriculture and food sectors. The project is analysing field experience and will organize a dialogue process in selected countries to discuss and inform these findings, with a view to assist member-countries in integrating incentive mechanisms in the transition to sustainable agriculture.

Learn more here.

Regional Communications Coordinator, Africa

CIFOR – Nairobi area, Kenya

The Communications Coordinator will lead an ambitious, well-funded and creative program with the goal of translating CIFOR’s high-caliber research from across Africa into meaningful, real-world impact. The program uses a range of media including blogs, video documentaries, radio programs, conferences and workshops, TV and newspapers so that policymakers, donors, NGOs, the private sector and other key stakeholders have the latest research on how best to manage the continent’s forests, especially in relation to climate change, livelihoods, food security, energy and water management.
We need a dynamic, creative and self-directed Communications Coordinator to take the freedom and resources we offer and make it happen whether it involves working alongside our scientists to develop communication strategies for specific research projects, traveling to the field with a TV crew, writing blogs, organizing a workshop or talking to journalists.

Learn more here.

Oceans Advocate

Natural Resources Defense Council – San Francisco CA, USA

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation’s most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. Our staff of more than 430 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy and communications experts, and others, work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana and Beijing.
NRDC seeks a full-time policy advocate or attorney to join the Ocean Program team in our San Francisco office. NRDC’s Ocean Program uses policy advocacy, litigation, science and communication tools to strengthen ocean protection, fishery management and public awareness of ocean issues. Our S.F. team focuses primarily on the west coast, along with some national and international work.

Learn more here.

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