Balancing Water Demands for Food and Nature with Water Sharing Investment Partnerships

One of the biggest issues facing all watersheds is how to keep sufficient streamflow to support aquatic life while balancing the withdrawals from water consumers including agriculture and municipal drinking water.  For example, many fish are very sensitive to changing water conditions of temperature, oxygen, and chemistry which are affected by the weather and climate as well as water supply. Obviously, during drought conditions the declining supply creates greater impacts for all users. It's a simple matter of supply and demand: while debates continue over the severity of climate changes affecting water supply and dramatic impacts to nature and our habitat, projecting the demand side of water and food resources is easier to forecast. Worldwide, we have accurate population growth numbers and consumption rates so we know demands for water and other resources will exceed supplies. Therefore conservation, if not rationing, is essential. Perhaps for too long we have considered that nature will provide infinite resources for free but coming soon we will all have a huge debt to pay for our ignorance and greed!

While there are large markets for consumer demands on water, can a system be created to sustain natural resources? According to Brian Richter, Chief Water Scientist with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a market-based strategy is stimulating conservation in the western United States and Australia - water markets are especially effective with irrigated lands. To create a special strategy for protecting nature - innovative partnerships are needed. In April 2016, a water balance fund began in Australia to encourage investments -- perhaps this is like our repaying nature for the huge loans we have taken. For more information on the Water Sharing Investment Partnerships (WSIPs), please see the article by TNC.