Resources and Publications
Many cities are defined by their relationship to rivers. People need clean water for drinking and bathing, but urban areas can have profound impacts on water quality and supply. Furthermore, the neighbors that share the river add to these impacts. By managing all water resources in a holistic way, and by engaging with neighbors throughout the watershed, city leaders can integrate management at many levels.
The scientific, economic and policy literature all indicate that riparian buffers deliver a multiplicity of benefits, making buffers an appealing management practice that is generally appropriate for all land use types and relevant to both restoration and conservation settings. They deliver services supporting both land and water functions by enhancing or maintaining, water quality, habitats, resilience and amenities in built environments. This report discusses valuation of buffers in terms of their function and identifies economic models that have been used to monetize the environmental, societal and human value of riparian buffers.
Stormwater runoff is a major problem for watersheds across the country, particularly the Chesapeake Bay. Green infrastructure is being used as a tool to mitigate stormwater runoff by restoring natural ground cover which allows precipitation to infiltrate into the soil. Urban agriculture is an innovative green infrastructure practice because it provides many benefits to the community as well as to watersheds. Urban farms mitigate stormwater runoff, increase the nutritional health of communities, improve the local economy, and provide residents with greenspace. Cities across the country, especially in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, should integrate urban agriculture into their planning materials and zoning codes in order to promote this all around beneficial green infrastructure tool. Our report discusses the importance of urban agriculture to cities and their watersheds as well as gives recommendations to city officials on how to promote the use of urban agriculture in their community.
Flowing from the North Cascades in Washington state through the forests and farmlands of Whatcom and Skagit Counties, the Nooksack River system is a unique watershed that provides important habitat for native fish and wildlife species. It is also a regional outdoor recreation haven, providing local residents and area visitors with fishing opportunities, scenic trails, idyllic riverside campsites, world-class whitewater boating, a rich assortment of wildlife viewing opportunities, and incredible winter sports including snowshoeing, snowboarding, and all forms of skiing: cross country, back-country, and downhill. The purpose of the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan (Plan) is to provide guidance and recommendations for managing non-motorized recreation use in the river corridors of the upper Nooksack River system. The Plan recognizes and supports the benefits of recreation, along with the protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values in the upper Nooksack River basin.
American Rivers’ 2014 Upper Flint River Resiliency Action Plan aims to guide work by a variety of stakeholders to restore drought resilience to the upper Flint River system of west-central Georgia. It follows on discussions and efforts of the Upper Flint River Working Group and on the Running Dry report which we published with Flint Riverkeeper in 2013.
In this report, Ceres and American Rivers join forces to highlight a range of innovative approaches to creating sustainable financing for our communities’ water systems. The report discusses specific actions that environmentalists, economists, water utilities, water users, financial institutions, foundations, investors and labor groups to create opportunities can adopt to improve predictable, secure revenue streams, leverage funding and financing options, and create partnerships to build and operate water infrastructure.
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.