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From the Editors 


Water quality trading (WQT) is a concept with passionate defenders and haters. Last autumn, advocacy group Food and Water Watch (FWW) re-labeled WQT as “pollution trading” and charged that it undermines the Clean Water Act (CWA) and puts US waterways at great risk.

Advocates of trading countered by saying the practice can broaden the field of stakeholders investing in water quality and produce additional environmental benefits such as wildlife habitat, land conservation, human health benefits and carbon reductions. 

What could settle the debate is clear evidence that trading works. But while these two camps battle it out, hard data from dozens of pilot projects sits unanalyzed by an independent third-party. But is there enough data? And who should evaluate it? A new Ecosystem Marketplace article explores the nuts and bolts of performing an independent assessment.

Meanwhile, the Great Lakes Commission is launching a pilot WQT program to help reduce nutrient pollution in Lake Erie, a body of water imperiled by notorious algae blooms every summer. So far, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario are participating in what the GLC is calling the Erie P Market.  

In other news, it has been an exciting couple of weeks for the environmental community in Peru. The government formally ratified the Paris Agreement and the Ministry of Environment released formal regulations for the country’s groundbreaking Mecanismos de Retribución por Servicios Ecosistémicos (MRSEs), or “Mechanisms of Compensation for Ecosystem Services” law.

We also have coverage of a new voluntary water exchange in Arizona and corporate water stewardship efforts in Armenia. In the US, the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a new category of permits for living shorelines.

Curious? These stories and more are summarized below.

Happy reading,

- The Ecosystem Marketplace team



Latest News

Peru’s New President Gets Arsenal Of New Environmental Tools 

Peru has long been among the more innovative countries in dealing with the consequences of climate change, and last week policymakers there approved critical tools that can open the door for public and private investment in forests, water and biodiversity conservation.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Water Quality Trading: What Works? What Doesn’t? And Why Don’t We Know This Already?

Water utilities and NGOs around the world are using market-based mechanisms to clean regional waterbodies and restore surrounding watersheds, but critics say the programs are unproven. Proponents counter: yes, they are, and the data exists to prove it!

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story.

Between Skeptic And Denier: Has The Media Contributed To Public Skepticism On Climate Change?

A falsely balanced discourse between public opinion and climate science in the US has allowed decision-makers to take little action in addressing the very real dangers of climate change, says Emily Lundberg, a Ph.D. communications researcher. Here, she charts this issue from its origins, taking a close look at the media’s role in propelling doubt and stalling change.

Learn more here.

The Six Ways “Business” Sees Climate Change

We can’t fix the climate mess without involving the private sector – but what is the private sector, and how does it think? It’s massive and diverse, says environmental economist Mark Trexler, who nonetheless proposes six frames of thought that guide the thinking of most business on the subject of climate change.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

Here's the Deal

Wineries' Involvement in New Water Exchange is Worth a Toast

A new voluntary water exchange aims to help slow groundwater withdrawals in Arizona's Verde River basin. The Verde River Exchange already has two agreements with local vineyards to purchase water offsets from a landowning family.

Read it at National Geographic.

MillerCoors continues to Blaze the Water Conservation Trail

MillerCoors is the second largest brewery in the world and one company that's taking water risk seriously. The company continues to set ambitious targets such as aiming to shrink its water-to-beer ratio – three units of water to one unit of beer - by 2020.  

Read an interview with MillerCoors' Director of Sustainability, Kim Marotta at the Environmental Leader.

Find out more about MillerCoors' sustainability efforts here.

Water Quality Trading Arrives in Lake Erie

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and the Canadian province of Ontario are participating in a newly launched pilot water quality trading program to reduce nutrient runoff flowing into Lake Erie. Called the Erie P Market, program developers say they are focused on the end result: less phosphorous in the water.

Michigan Radio has the story.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Verification to ensure that water quality trading initiatives are really delivering results is crucial. But it can also be seriously expensive. So the Willamette Partnership got to thinking: Why not develop a program-level audit that focuses on overall quality control, rather than putting every single credit under the microscope?

Learn more and download the draft audit standard here.

The Delicious Taste of Water Stewardship

The Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company of Armenia is partnering with USAID and the Armenian government to establish sustainable groundwater use in regions experiencing shortages. The entities will work primarily to ensure sustainable water management on fish farms in the Ararat and Armavir provinces.

Learn more here.

Is Earth's Biggest Mangrove Forest in Danger?

Environmental groups fear construction of two power plants in Bangladesh's Sundarban region, which contains Earth's largest mangrove forest and is a World Heritage Site. They say the facilities will have disastrous consequences for the ecosystem, local communities and climate.

The Washington Post has coverage.

What would an Engineer say?

Shannon Cunniff, the Director of Coastal Resilience at the Environmental Defense Fund, notes the importance of speaking the language of engineers when advocating for natural infrastructure and ecosystems to build climate resilience.

Read more on the EDF blog.

Policy Watch

California Lawmakers Aim to put Watersheds on Par with Water Infrastructure

A California bill would enable forest and watershed restoration efforts to receive the same considerations for funding as building a dam. Some lawmakers and environmental groups continue to push for its approval.

The San Francisco Chronicle has details.

One Living Shoreline Permit, Please

The US Army Corps of Engineers is proposing living shorelines as a new category in its permitting process. It's currently much faster for coastal communities to obtain permits for grey infrastructure to manage its flood and storm risk, but approval of this new category would result in speedier approval of nature based solutions.

Keep reading here.

New Research

Development Planning for Nature Benefits People

Protecting the source of urban water supplies is critical to keeping water treatment costs low, according to a new study. Because too much agriculture or urban development degrades watersheds, report authors recommend planning for sustainable development that considers impacts on natural systems.  

Learn more here.

New Mapping Data helps tell the Story of South Africa's Drought

This month, WWF launched interactive water risk maps that reveal the condition of water resources in several municipalities in South Africa. The country is currently in the midst of a severe drought.

The Citizen has coverage.

Get details from memeburn.

The Humble Beaver, Unassuming Champion of Ecological Restoration

An experiment conducted in Oregon waterways finds that beaver-mediated ecological restoration helped recover the imperiled steelhead trout. While little research is done on this topic, the findings suggest that beavers could be part of a cost-effective approach to repair damaged streams.  

Find out more here.



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