June 29, 2020, Oakland, California – The Pacific Institute just released a guidebook for water managers to incorporate valuable co-benefits into water management decisions, providing an opportunity to increase funding through collaborative partnerships and co-funding opportunities, build partnerships, garner public support, and more. An accompanying case study shows the guidance in action in Austin, Texas.
Adapting to climate change, along with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits.
Incorporating Multiple Benefits into Water Projects: A Guide for Water Managers uses a “multi-benefit framework” to provide a modular, flexible approach for water managers interested in incorporating multiple benefits into water management decisions. It can be applied to a wide range of projects and programs, from designing water efficiency programs to prioritizing stormwater project funding and developing co-funding models for multi-benefit projects.
For the accompanying case study, Scaling Green Stormwater Infrastructure Through Multiple Benefits in Austin, Texas: Distributed Rainwater Capture on Residential Properties in the Waller Creek Watershed, the Pacific Institute collaborated with the City of Austin, Texas, to scale collaborative green stormwater infrastructure by evaluating the multiple benefits and beneficiaries of these projects. The experience in Austin can be used by cities around the United States to incorporate their own co-benefits into water management projects.
“In 2017, annual public spending on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in U.S. reached $113 billion,” says author Dr. Sarah Diringer, citing the U.S. Water Alliance. “These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but also provide additional economic, social, and environmental benefits. At the same time, this investment is not sufficient to fill a growing funding gap. By examining the co-benefits of water management strategies, policy and decision makers have an opportunity to increase funding for water management through collaborative partnerships and co-fund multi-benefit water projects.”