Building a global community of practice around natural water infrastructure

As Costs Rise, Green Infrastructure Looks Better And Better

As Costs Rise, Green Infrastructure Looks Better And Better

Addressing stormwater runoff and other water-related challenges is getting insanely expensive, which is why cost-effective green interventions are on the rise. This month's Water Log features several efforts aiming to showcase innovative and nature-based water financing ideas. It also highlights a new project aiding nature-based businesses and a potential nutrient market in California's East Bay. 

This article has been adapted from our monthly Water Log newsletter. Interested in green infrastructure and investments in nature-based solutions? Subscribe to receive the Water Log in your inbox.

31 May 2017 | Greetings! Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country's infrastructure a near-failing grade of D+. The costs of addressing water quality challenges like stormwater runoff are in the twelve-digit range, and President Donald Trump's proposed budget adds up to a whole lot of grim news for the environment.

Challenges grow and coffers shrink, and green infrastructure keeps looking better and better. As the Conservation Finance Network notes, water finance is increasingly local these days, partly out of necessity; Washington D.C.'s Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Program is a great example of that.

In fact, there are a lot of good examples out there. In this month's Water Log, we find some promising efforts to share experience. Stanford University’s Water in the West researchers recently decided we needed a better way to keep track of these projects, and in late April, launched a “Living Map” that showcases images, details and data on "out-of-the-box" water financing ideas. Meanwhile, Naturally Resilient Communities just launched a tool that's basically the green infrastructure version of speed-dating for urban stormwater challenges seeking a solution. Finally, a new report from Storm and Stream Solutions, LLC and the Willamette Partnership captures the latest and greatest in economic instruments for investment in stormwater infrastructure.

This month, Ecosystem Marketplace also covers how carbon finance used to restore wetlands in California could lead to greater water security for the state. The European Commission released an atlas profiling water use and management in 40 cities across the continent. Maryland oyster growers still have plans to join the state's nutrient trading program, while a nutrient market might take root in California's East Bay.

Happy reading, water warriors.

- The Ecosystem Marketplace team

LATEST NEWS

New Initiative Lends A Helping Hand To Europe’s Green Entrepreneurs Organic farmers and other environmental entrepreneurs are a romantic lot, but they don’t have the opportunities for training and finance that providers of solar and wind technologies do. That’s set to change with the launch of ECOSTAR, a university-business hub that links the world of markets to that of ecosystem services science. The project launches on June 15th with a call for nature-based start-ups interested in learning the ropes.

Learn more here.

Can California Tap Carbon Markets To Save Its Delta (And Its Drinking Water)?
The inland marshes that provide half of California’s drinking water and support its massive agriculture sector are sinking into the ground and drowning in fertilizer running off from farms. They’re also emitting massive amounts of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. Here’s how that could be the key to their salvation.

Ecosystem Marketplace has the story.

$25 Billion Ecological Restoration Industry Gathers In Sacramento To Talk Business

As the ecological restoration industry convened for its flagship meeting this month in Sacramento, two restoration players highlighted the sector’s role as a big economic driver. They also stressed the need for consistent standards and strong policy in order to craft truly efficient and effective projects that benefit biodiversity and people.

Keep reading at Ecosystem Marketplace.

HERE’S THE DEAL

Nutrient Trading Making its Way to the Bay

California's East Bay Municipal Utility District has contracted with The Freshwater Trust to evaluate opportunities for nutrient trading to improve San Francisco Bay's water quality. The point source-point source model being considered would create a market for dischargers to sell nutrient reduction credits to one another. The Freshwater Trust has worked in the past with the City of Medford, Oregon, on a similar project that is estimated to have saved taxpayers $9.5 million to date.

Learn more from The Freshwater Trust.

Water Stewardship Standard Takes Root

The Alliance for Water Stewardship's emerging International Water Stewardship Standard is meant to help corporates document and track efforts to use water more sustainably and engage with watershed stakeholders. The food and drink giant Nestlé, a company that helped establish the AWS, is planning to use the standard to certify its West Coast facilities.

Read an interview with the Chief Sustainability Officer of Nestlé Waters North America at Environmental Leader.

Shellfish Get in the Trading Game
Researchers are still figuring out the science and economics of it, but Maryland oyster growers may one day be able to generate credits and join the state's nascent nutrient trading program. Supporters of the venture are concerned that current leaders in Washington will wipe out funding for the research, though that didn’t happen in the administration’s most recent spending package.

Read more at the Bay Journal.

How New Economic Instruments Can Sop Up Stormwater
Urban stormwater runoff is the new Big Bad: it's resistant to traditional regulatory and planning approaches, eye-poppingly expensive to control, and - unlike most sources of water pollution in the US - getting worse. A new report from Storm and Stream Solutions LLC and the Willamette Partnership catalogs how economic instruments for investing in stormwater infrastructure might come to the rescue.

Download the report.
Catch a webcast highlighting findings on June 8th.

A Green Guide for the Real Estate Moguls
Recent innovations in stormwater policy and management have meant that the private sector is increasingly asked to play a role in addressing urban water challenges. A new report from the Urban Land Institute aims to shed light on what growing interest in green infrastructure means for the real estate sector. It includes real estate case studies and a typology of stormwater policies developers might encounter.

Read it here (pdf).

A Thirsty Industry Gets Smart about Water
As a group of NGOs delivered a new discussion paper on context-based water targets, the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable assessed its own work on watershed context. The organization says it has long appreciated the local nature of water, producing a decision-making methodology in 2015 with plans to publish additional insights later this year.

Just-drinks has more.

Let's Make That State Slogan a Reality, Jersey
Garden State builders and developers now have a guide to going green thanks to environmental consultancy AKRF's New Jersey Developers' Green Infrastructure Guide. The document includes a review of costs and benefits of using green infrastructure and illustrative case studies.

Keep reading at the Daily Record.

POLICY WATCH

Green City, Clean Waters, New Jobs
In a recent analysis, Mayor of Philadelphia James Kenney highlighted the many benefits of the city's Green City, Clean Waters program. The program is spurring a new sector of employment as it implemented hundreds of new green infrastructure programs capable of keeping 1.5 billion gallons of polluted water out of nearby waterways – and it isn’t finished yet.
Read the whole breakdown at Brookings.

THE HANDY DANDY TOOLKIT

Green Infrastructure Matchmaker Helps the Magic Happen
A new tool helps city managers match green infrastructure solutions to their stormwater challenges. Naturally Resilient Communities' online tool lets users filter nature-based interventions (ranging from restoration strategies to policy and planning approaches) by hazard type, scale, cost, and more.

Learn more from the Stormwater Report.
View the tool here.

NEW RESEARCH

Prompting Out-of-the-Box Thinking on Water
Researchers from Stanford University's Water in the West program created a Living Map of innovative ways to finance water projects in the United States. The map highlights creative nature-based projects with the intention of spurring the spread and creation of new solutions for aging outdated water systems.

Stanford University has details or read coverage from Water Deeply.

Blue Cities
Late last month, the European Commission published the Urban Water Atlas, which profiles water management in 40 European cities. The atlas includes a ranking metric water performance, and Amsterdam emerged as the city with the highest score.

Learn more.

H20 Context
Companies and investors interested in mitigating water risks in a meaningful way require more than just additional information. They need context that connects a company's use to the basin status. Enter context-based water targets.

Learn more at WWF.

Location, Location and Green Infrastructure
In a new report from the Urban Land Institute, researchers explore how a rising number of real estate developers are responding to local regulations by incorporating green interventions into their business models. Green infrastructure also carries aesthetic value and appeal for real estate sites, which is another plus for developers, report authors say.

Read more at the ULI magazine.