Securing Water for Environmental Purposes: Establishing Pilot Programs

By Sharon B. Megdal, Joanna Bate and Andrew Schwarz.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper focuses on programs that provide water for the environment through direct check box donation programs or through voluntary municipal water conservation. Existing water conservation programs may not effectively target water users that are motivated by environmental concerns. Megdal et al. (2006) recognized the ongoing need for supplemental inputs of water in riparian restoration projects, which are increasingly common. Also, public concern surrounding the need to protect natural water flows is growing (Katz, 2006). In recent papers, the authors proposed a mechanism by which voluntary municipal water conservation could provide funds to cover the cost of acquiring and delivering water to environmental enhancement projects (Schwarz and Megdal, 2007; Megdal, 2008). These studies explored some of the basic elements as well as challenges involved in implementing this concept. Further, the study identified a need to implement one or more pilot projects using the “Conserve to Enhance” mechanism. Some cities have check box donation programs that generate a new source of funding to pay for riparian restoration projects. Existing check box programs demonstrate some of the critical elements previously identified for successful program development. Through outreach conducted across Arizona over the past year, stakeholders have helped to identify local opportunities and challenges for implementing the concept. Stakeholders have also generated possible variations on the original mechanism that reflect their local setting. This paper describes the Conserve to Enhance mechanism as well as check box donation programs and offers recommendations for implementing this type of program.

Keywords: Water Conservation, Municipal Water Use, Environmental Water Needs, Environmental Restoration, Check Box Fundraising Programs, Water Leasing Programs, Instream Flows

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.189-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.185MB).

Dr. Sharon B. Megdal

Director, Water Resources Research Center, Water Sustainability Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Sharon B. Megdal is Director of The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center. She is also Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Professor and Specialist in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science. She also serves as Director of The University of Arizona Water Sustainability Program, which is funded by the Technology Research Initiative Fund (TRIF). Her work focuses on state and regional water resources management and policy, on which she writes and frequently speaks. She authors a water policy column for the WRRC’s bi-monthly newsletter. Current projects include study of artificial recharge and municipal water use in growing, arid regions. Dr. Megdal teaches the multi-disciplinary graduate course Arizona Water Policy. Sharon B. Megdal holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Princeton University.

Joanna Bate

Research Assistant, Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

As a Masters candidate in the Planning program at the University of Arizona, Joanna is pursuing the Water Policy Certificate. Her coursework included electives in Environmental Policy, Economics of Environmental Policy, and Water Law. Her current work supports research of Arizona water policy regarding environmental water needs. Her prior experience was as an ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, providing ecological information to the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. She obtained a Bachelors in Biology from Haverford College in 2003.

Andrew Schwarz

Engineer, Water Resources, Division of Planning and Local Assistance, California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento, California, USA

Andrew Schwarz is an engineer with the California Department of Water Resources. He has a BS degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an MS degree in environmental planning from the University of Arizona at Tucson. At the time of this research, he was associated with the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center in Tucson.


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