An analysis of stream mitigation banking and the challenges of implementing market-based approaches to environmental conservation.
When people and industries leave a community, water utilities face the potential loss of revenue from departing customers and the cost and issues associated with maintaining excess system capacity.
Water systems seek to (1) ensure affordability, (2) maintain high service and quality, and (3) sustain fiscal viability; this creates a trilemma for shrinking cities that can ensure only two of the three.
This paper explores the evolution of water services in the United States. Most people have access to water, most tap water is drinkable, most dams are secure, most farms can grow more with less water, and most rivers are cleaner than they were 50 years ago. Most does not mean all. There is growing evidence that an increasing number of Americans are losing access to safe drinking water and sanitation—and others never had it at all.
May and June 2020 data for the eight water utilities in our study show diverging trends of water consumption and revenues as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, with states and local governments taking different approaches and timelines to rolling back restrictions. There are signs of recovery in water consumption and revenues for many utilities, mostly due to high residential consumption and billed revenues, not increased usage from non-residential customers.
Preliminary data from five water utilities of different sizes and different climates across the U.S. show variable impacts to consumption and billed revenue in response to the global pandemic. Some utilities saw a decline in primarily non-residential consumption of up to 19% and non-residential billed revenue of up to 8% in April, one full month into the pandemic, relative to April usage and revenue in the past three years. For some utilities, consumption and revenues remained similar to previous years.
Riparian Vegetation as an Indicator of Stream Channel Presence and Connectivity in Arid Environments
Based on a thorough literature review and synthesis of arid region studies, we found key spatiotemporal patterns of arid riparian vegetation that could potentially be used to determine hydrologic connectivity. Much of the vegetation along arid stream channels is well-adapted to water scarcity and varies in response to differences in geomorphology, hydrology, and land use across multiple scales.
This report represents an examination of compensatory mitigation of aquatic resources (i.e., streams and wetlands) on U.S. federal lands through an examination of case studies and a review of the legal landscape in which such mitigation takes place.
Ensuring Water Quality: Innovating on the Clean Water & Safe Drinking Water Acts for the 21st Century
The 2019 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum explored the concept of innovating the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts for the 21st Century and the ideas that undergird these two acts, their successes, shortcomings, and unintended consequences. The central question was how can innovation and regulation at local, state, and federal levels address chronic and emerging water quality challenges across the U.S.?
Federal Decentralization and Adaptive Management of Water Resources: Reservoir Reallocation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Reservoir operations must respond to changing conditions, such as climate, water demand, regulations, and sedimentation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) can reallocate reservoir storage to respond to such changes. We assembled and analyzed a database of reservoir reallocations implemented and proposed by the Corps.
Managing Rivers Under Changing Environmental and Societal Boundary Conditions, Part 1: National Trends and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reservoirs
Most major rivers in the United States are managed by a system of reservoirs; many of which were built more than a half century ago. These reservoirs were designed based on environmental, societal, and regulatory assumptions at the time of construction. Since then, we have learned that climate is not stationary, population growth is being decoupled from energy needs and water demand, and new regulations (such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act) affect how river systems are managed.