Water Doesn’t Grow on Trees Nor Do Roots Sprout Pipes

I posted earlier this week on the enormous financial needs for restoring our water resourceswater main break and infrastructure within the United State alone.  Our water systems have atrophied and are no longer able to provide the same level of services we have come to expect and need to maintain our current standard of living.  Below is a picture of what happens when a 66-inch water main breaks.  This was near my home in Potomac, MD, on River Road, which occurred several years back.  That fateful morning, River Road turned into a torrential river, nearly claiming the lives of several commuters, who had to be rescued, and cost millions of dollars in emergency repairs and lost business due to extended water outages.  This senario is occurring far too often as water main breaks and costly outages are becoming the norm in many communities.  Continue reading

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Connecting the Dots, Collecting the Drops

global-water-volume-freshI love this picture – as it puts into perspective the importance of Earth’s finite water resources.  The largest, blue sphere represents the total volume of all water on Earth.  The medium size one over Kentucky represents all useable freshwater, including surface and groundwater.  And the tiniest one over Atlanta, hardly visible, represents the amount of water in lakes and streams, the same water that gets recycled and filtered everyday through biological systems and has been available to sustain life for millions of years.  It’s limited, that’s all there is.  Just think, the water you drink from your tap was at one time filtered through the kidneys of dinosaur.  Someone’s waste is another’s treasure or, in this case, water.   Continue reading

Emerging Markets are Helping Accelerate Environmental Restoration

Spent several days this week in Racine, WI, at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread, which the H.J. Johnson Family (think SC Johnson Wax) has set aside to convene environmental leaders to think and go big on matters of environmental restoration.  Great example of how a family who has been richly blessed in life and wingspread_thumbbusiness can use the fruits of their labor to give back to society.  We in the U.S. have a great opportunity to continue to advance and accelerate environmental restoration more than ever before through emerging innovative market-based approaches.  One thing that drove me nuts during my tenure at U.S. EPA’s Office of Water was the development of national policy and regulations wherein the value of many services and attributes provided by nature (e.g., wildlife diversity, soil and plants, carbon, nutrient cycling, endangered species, wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge, flood control, water quality) are not traded in the market place, not easily monetized, and thus are often undervalued or Screen-shot-2012-07-18-at-2_50_20-PMnot valued at all.  Think about it – what value do you place on having clean water to swim in, to fish in, or to drink from?  If it’s not valued, how can society best protect these things that we depend upon for life and our standard of living?  Groups, such as Ecosystem Marketplace, among others, are helping to fix that problem by creating markets – and the supply and demand – for these otherwise valuable things. Continue reading

The Face of Conservation is Changing – Cheers to Today’s New Leaders

The pros and cons of living in Washington DC are receiving all sorts of invitations to political events, fundraisers, forums, policy roundtables, and various other sundry functions, all aimed at highlighting a special need, cause or accomplishment or raising imagesCA8UY72Cawareness of some sort.  Some are more memorable than others.  And yet few have as important a value as the function I attended last evening, bringing together leaders of eNGOs, agriculture, industry, and civic groups to celebrate the future of conservation, exemplifying humanity at its best, not an earthly plague as recently recounted by Sir David Attenborough. Continue reading