Resources and Publications
The Hardest Working River in the West: Common-Sense Solutions for a Reliable Water Future for the Colorado River Basin
The majestic Colorado River cuts a 1,450-mile path through the American West before drying up well short of its natural finish line at the Gulf of California. Reservoirs once filled to the brim from the river and its tributaries are at historic lows due to an unprecedented drought and growing human demands. Diminished stream flows now pose serious challenges for wildlife and recreation, as well as cities, farms, and others who rely upon the river. Steps currently being taken to improve the situation are not up to the task of bringing the river system back into balance and providing a reliable water supply for all the communities who depend upon the Colorado River. Fortunately, we have five feasible, affordable, common-sense solutions that can be implemented now to protect the flow of the river, ensure greater economic vitality, and secure water resources for millions of Americans.
This guide provides an introduction for community leaders, including water providers and forest managers, as they seek to protect, manage and maintain source-water forests. The report outlines the economic and environmental benefits of well-managed forests for drinking water protection; describes the forest best management practices that optimize water quality and quantity benefits to downstream communities; reviews the funding sources, financial incentives, and technical assistance programs available to landowners and managers to protect forests and implement enhanced management practices; and highlights case studies of other communities using unique investment strategies for upstream forest protection, management and restoration.
Robust scientific research consistently shows the importance of small streams to downstream communities. Preserving and protecting small streams, therefore, is the best approach to conserve ecosystem function, but in highly urbanized areas where headwater streams are often buried, hidden, and forgotten, this approach is not an option. With the understanding that most urbanized streams are buried and therefore unable to be preserved, this report analyzes the effectiveness of daylighting streams as a way to improve water quality and habitat, reduce flooding, and revitalize communities. As the current policy framework does not expressly support these types of projects, the report includes policy recommendations for how to better protect small streams within the urban landscape and integrate daylighting into the current policy structure.
This guide should help advocates understand not only how to be more effective opponents of destructive and bloated infrastructure projects, but also how to be more effective proponents of sustainable drinking water systems.
Running Dry: Challenges and Opportunities in Restoring Healthy Flows in Georgia’s Upper Flint River Basin
Georgia’s upper Flint River is a river running dry. While rivers and streams in arid parts of the United States often dry up seasonally, the Southeast has historically been known as a water-rich area with plentiful rainfall, lush landscapes, and perennial streams and rivers. The upper Flint supports recreation, fisheries, local economies, and threatened and endangered species that all depend on healthy and reliable flows which are becoming increasingly rare. This report examines low-flow problems in the river basin and points the way toward solutions to these multifaceted problems. The Flint’s are the same challenges facing rivers in many urbanizing areas and in regions facing increasing water quantity stress, and finding solutions to these challenges will only grow more important in the future.
Staying Green: Joint Reports on Operations and Maintenance of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay
As more communities move towards adopting green infrastructure as a cost-effective approach to manage polluted runoff, it is critical that local governments address barriers to operations and maintenance. Despite the benefits of green infrastructure, operations and maintenance has been repeatedly raised as a technical barrier to adoption of green infrastructure and remains a concern for many local governments in the Chesapeake Bay region and across the country. American Rivers and Green for All collaborated on two reports; one to identify significant barriers to operations and maintenance and recommend strategies to address them and a second report to assess the landscape of career opportunities for workers with applicable skills to conduct operations and maintenance of green infrastructure practices.
This guide provides information for state governments, water managers and other stakeholders to use in preparing for the consequences of hotter temperatures, more variable and volatile precipitation events, and rising seas. By undertaking climate preparedness planning, states can better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the well-being of residents, communities, the economy and natural resources.
These documents provide an overview of the regulatory framework that creates unintended obstacles to dam removal and river restoration in the State of New Jersey. âDam Removal in New Jersey: Background, Regulatory Guidance, and Practical Aspectsâ provides a clear and concise list of recommendations to the NJDEP based on a review of pertinent background information and existing regulatory language. It also includes materials that will support the development of a formal dam removal program in the State of New Jersey. âReview of New Jersey Regulations Pertaining to Dam Removal & Stream Restorationâ is a supporting document provides a more comprehensive review of regulations pertaining to dam removal and river restoration, detailed case studies of projects that encountered regulatory hurdles, and the findings of a survey pertaining regulatory issues.
Permitting Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Improving Municipal Stormwater Permits and Protecting Water Quality
Municipal stormwater continues to be one of the biggest sources of water pollution across the nation. Addressing this problem will require real improvements to the Clean Water Act permits that regulate stormwater. This report provides a survey of several, new generation stormwater permits that take strong steps to keep stormwater from running into our streams, lakes and rivers. These permits succeed by establishing a preference for green infrastructure as the best way to manage stormwater. The report documents several approaches that states have adopted to increase the use of green infrastructure, and provides clear examples of how motivated watershed advocates can provide information and support to permit writers.
The Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard (GIPS) guide provides a framework for the long term and predictable implementation of green infrastructure and the reduction of polluted stormwater runoff. Based upon the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard concept, the GIPS guide helps overcome challenges to green infrastructure solutions by providing easy to follow steps to increase municipal teamwork, set polluted stormwater pollution reduction goals, and establish and prioritize green infrastructure installation.
Clean water and healthy communities go hand in hand. Urban areas are increasingly using green infrastructure to create multiple benefits for their communities. However, there have been questions whether strong stormwater standards could unintentionally deter urban redevelopment and shift development to environmentally damaging sprawl. Working with Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, River Network and NRDC, we commissioned a report by ECONorthwest titled “Managing Stormwater in Redevelopment and Greenfield Development Projects Using Green Infrastructure.” Highlighting several communities that are protecting clean water and fostering redevelopment, the findings show that clean water and urban redevelopment are compatible.
When seeking to secure reliable supplies of clean water for today and the future, many Southeastern communities reach reflexively for dams and reservoirs. However, the region has many more expedient, lower cost, lower-impact solutions at hand. Meanwhile, the risks inherent in new reservoir development in the region are becoming more and more apparent. This report documents the financial risks and water resource risks tied to the development of new water supply reservoirs in the Southeast. It also outlines a set of key recommendations for local leaders who seek to reduce their communitiesâ risksâboth financial risks and closely linked water resource risksâin planning for enough clean water for the future.
This report provides a snapshot of a single round of successful and highly sought after Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) floodplain easements in the Upper Mississippi River Basin states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Floodplain easements are a cost-effective way to minimize flood impacts, reduce repeat damages, and store floodwaters for benefits of downstream residents and communities.
Many federal policies still encourage the same backward-looking water management approaches that didnât work in the past and are even less suited to the future. These ten reforms are some of the best ways we can change outdated federal policies and embrace a forward-looking approach to water management. They represent proactive steps Congress and the Executive Branch can take to address climate change.
âThe Value of Green Infrastructureâ provides a framework to help communities measure and value the air quality, energy use, and many other benefits that green infrastructure provides. It allows communities to more accurately compare different infrastructure investments and choose the option that provides the greatest long-term benefit.