WRI Releases New Report on Protecting Water and Reducing Costs with Natural Infrastructure

On October 15th, the World Resources Institute (WRI) released a new report entitled, “Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States.”  It was developed in collaboration with Earth Economics and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, and includes the expertise of 56 authors from various essential stakeholder groups.  The report provides guidance for resource managers to expand the availability of clean water through the conservation and restoration of forests and other natural infrastructure.  The publication outlines the economics and science of natural infrastructure investments and identifies opportunities across the country, with key lessons for program design and implementation.

In addition to the detailed guidance, the report takes a look at the current state of practice of natural infrastructure approaches, showing ample opportunities and an expanding toolkit for securing forests for water.   Examples are provided from:  Denver, Colorado to mitigate wildfire impacts; Portland, Maine to avoid treatment costs in the face of development pressures; and the City of Raleigh, North Carolina to implement land conservation to address declining water quality.

“Natural infrastructure, with its capacity to absorb rainfall and filter out pollutants and sediment, while providing natural amenities for ratepayers and citizens, is an effective approach to reducing treatment costs and deferring – if not avoiding – significant capital investments over time,” said Tracy Mehan, former U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water. “WRI’s new publication is a tremendous contribution to the emerging literature and practice in this exciting area of water management.”

The publication follows on a meeting of natural infrastructure leaders at the World Resources Institute’s Washington, D.C. office in September.  The meeting highlighted the publication’s key findings and set a course for scaling up natural infrastructure investment in communities across the country. Represented organizations included ASDWA, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), EPA, USDA, the Trust for Public Land, the Cadmus Group, and others.  To view the full report, visit the WRI web site HERE.