47 Multi-Benefit Resources


The Untapped Potential of California’s Water Supply: Efficiency, Reuse, and Stormwater – Issue Brief

Author: Pacific Institute, NRDC (2014)
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Increased pressures on California’s water supply, including from population growth and intense periods of drought exacerbated by climate change, are leading to the overuse of surface water and groundwater. But with existing technology and conservation methods, the state can take vital steps to improve its resilience to drought and plan for a more sustainable water future. This issue brief, produced in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, is a statewide analysis of the potential for improved efficiency in agricultural and urban water use, water reuse and recycling, and increased capturing of local rainwater.

Methods to Assess Co-Benefits of California Climate Investments: Water Supply and Availability

Author: Center for Resource Efficient Communities, UC-Berkeley (2017)
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Methods to Assess Co-benefits of California Climate Investments: Water Supply and Availability is a literature review of the different methodologies and approaches to quantifying the water supply and availability benefits from California Climate Investment projects. California Climate Investments are a broad group of projects being pursued across the state to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as wetland restoration and urban tree planting. While the literature review is targeted at California projects, some of the information provided could be applicable more broadly in the U.S.

Co-benefits Assessment Methodology for Water Savings

Author: California Air Resources Board (2018)
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Co-benefits Assessment Methodology for Water Savings presents three different water co-benefit assessment methods for three types of projects from the California Climate Investments. The three project types are agricultural irrigation, residential, commercial, or institutional water efficiency, and urban landscaping. The assessment methods are presented from a California perspective, however, the same methods could be applied in different locations with appropriate modifications for climate and other relevant factors.

Top 22 Benefits of Trees

Author: TreePeople (2019)
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This website, Top 22 Benefits of Trees, provides an overview of the top benefits provided by trees, which include, but are not limited to, saving water, preventing water pollution, and many other benefits.

Sustainable Landscapes in the Santa Ana River Watershed

Author: Pacific Institute (2019)
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The Sustainable Landscapes in the Santa Ana River Watershed map is an interactive tool that allows users to explore potential benefits of sustainable landscaping practices across the Santa Ana River Watershed.

Impacts of Urban Water Conservation Strategies on Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Health: Southern California as a Case Study

Author: (2016)
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Impacts of Urban Water Conservation Strategies on Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Health: Southern California as a Case Study expands on a 2014 health impact assessment of California’s urban water conservation strategies to evaluate the impacts of two possible conservation approaches: banning landscape irrigation and expanding alternative water sources (e.g. recycled water). Findings show that expanding alternative water sources can have a highly positive impact on public health.

Firewater Storage, Treatment, Recycling and Management: New Perspectives Based on Experiences from the United Kingdom

Author: (2014)
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Firewater Storage, Treatment, Recycling and Management: New Perspectives Based on Experiences from the United Kingdom is a literature review examining firewater management and recycling best practices in the United Kingdom. The literature review revealed that limited research is available on this subject and that development of decision support tools are needed to evaluate consumption rates, capacity, water quality, and pump requirements. A particular article suggested the need for further research into on-site treatment methods, such as mobile and compact filtration units.

Valuing the Environmental Benefits of Urban Water Conservation: Final Report

Author: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley, California Urban Watershed Council (2006)
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Valuing the Environmental Benefits of Urban Water Conservation Final Report presents a method for valuing the environmental benefits of water conservation and efficiency. Water savings of a particular water conservation strategy are represented by the reduction in water demand, as well as the resulting co-benefits, including enhanced fish habitats, increased recreational opportunities, and improved water quality as a result of wetland filtration. The report provides a methodology for monetizing these environmental benefits so as to provide utilities with a method for comparing the benefits and costs of various best management practices.

Water Risk Monetizer

Author: Ecolab Inc. (2017)
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Water Risk Monetizer is a tool developed by Ecolab Inc. that assesses water-related business risks. Using local basin data and economic analysis techniques, the tool provides the user with risk metrics for incoming water quantity and quality, as well as outgoing water quality. The purpose of this tool is to inform companies on their water-related risks in order to encourage investment into water conservation. The tool is available online and is free to use.

Smart Water Management for Business Growth: Integrating Water Risk into Business Decision Making

Author: Ecolab Inc. (2017)
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This is the white paper published by Ecolab in conjunction with the Water Risk Monetizer tool. The report contains an explanation of the tool, an evolution of water risk analysis, the water risk framework applied in the tool, methodology, and limitations.

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Author: Pacific Institute (2009)
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Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future examines the potential for agricultural efficiency in California. The report qualitatively and quantitatively explores the potential for water conservation and efficiency under the following management strategies: 1) efficient irrigation technology, 2) improved irrigation scheduling, and 3) regulated deficit irrigation. All three options show significant water savings as well as provide various co-benefits including, reduced water and energy costs, improved crop quality and yield,improved soil health, reduced vulnerability to drought, increased revenues, improved water quality, improved quantity and timing of instream flows, and fish and wildlife benefits.

CUWCC Direct Utility Avoided Cost Model and Environmental Benefits Model Download Page

Author: Alliance for Water Efficiency (2007)
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The CUWCC Direct Utility Avoided Cost Model and Environmental Benefits Model is a tool developed by the California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) in order to improve water use efficiency. The model uses the avoided cost economic valuation method in order to estimate the potential savings of water use efficiency improvements. The resource provides a downloadable version of the valuation tool, the methodology, and examples of the tool being utilized.

WaterSET

Author: (2016)
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WaterSET is a triple bottom line assessment tool developed by WRF (Reuse-14-03) that compares different water supply options to direct potable reuse (DPR). The report, ‘Methodology for a Comprehensive Analysis (Triple Bottom Line) of Alternative Water Supply Projects Compared to Direct Potable Reuse’, describes the methodology behind the WaterSET tool. While the WaterSET tool is more oriented towards urban contexts, many of the principles and benefits associated with the water supplies assessed in Reuse-14-03 are relevant to agricultural contexts (Reuse-16-06). The report and tools developed as part of Reuse-14-03 were recently released and are currently being reviewed by the Reuse-16-06 project team.

Water conservation benefits of urban heat mitigation

Author: (2017)
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Water conservation benefits of urban heat mitigation examines urban heat mitigation strategies, such as cool roofs, and the impacts on water conservation in California. The study shows that while cool roofs provide significant cooling benefits and life cycle cost savings, they also provide other water-related benefits including decreased outdoor water use by reducing evaporation and irrigation practices. The report argues that cool roofs provide a solution for multiple sectors within California.

Climatic consequences of adopting drought-tolerant vegetation over Los Angeles as a response to California drought

Author: (2016)
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Climatic consequences of adopting drought tolerant vegetation over Los Angeles as a response to California drought utilized a regional climate model to analyze the impacts of drought-tolerant vegetation in Los Angeles. The results revealed that drought-tolerant vegetation contributed to a daytime warming of 1.9 degrees Celsius, largely due to decreases in irrigation, and a nighttime cooling of 3.2 degrees Celsius, due to differences in soil thermodynamics and heat exchange. The report concludes that the greater magnitude of the nighttime cooling could counterbalance the warming effects during the day.

Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS)

Author: The Green Builder® Coalition (N/A)
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The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) is a tool for predicting water use in new and existing properties. The tool measures indoor water use, including water used in toilets, sinks, clothes washers, showers, and structural waste (water that is wasted when waiting for water to heat up), and scores water use performance on a scale from 0 to 100 (0 being the desired performance). The goal of the tool is to provide validated water use performance scores in order to encourage water conservation efforts.

Green Infrastructure Opportunities and Barriers in the Greater Los Angeles Region

Author: U.S. EPA (2013)
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Green Infrastructure Opportunities and Barriers in the Greater Los Angeles Region analyzes the regulatory barriers to installing green infrastructure in Los Angeles. The types of green infrastructure projects discussed in the report include bioretention cells, bioretention strips/swales, infiltration basins/swales/trenches, planter boxes, constructed wetlands, rainwater capture, permeable pavement, and drywells. The report defines the regulatory landscape for green infrastructure in California, identifies potential for fulfilling multiple regulations and requirements through green infrastructure projects, and lastly, examines the regulatory barriers to green infrastructure implementation.

Water Reuse Project in Virginia Providing Multiple Benefits

Author: U.S. EPA (2015)
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Water Reuse Project in Virginia Providing Multiple Benefits provides an example of an effective water reuse project implemented in the Chesapeake Bay. Historically, treated wastewater in the region was discharged into Chesapeake Bay, the water reuse project redirected this water for beneficial uses such as cooling a waste-to-energy plant and irrigating a ball field and a golf course. The benefits produced by this innovative water reuse project include potable water conservation, reductions in phosphorus and nitrogen pollution, and discounts on water bills.

Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California

Author: NRDC, Pacific Institute (2014)
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Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency Potential in California outlines the benefits of improving agricultural efficiency in California. The benefits cited include reduced consumptive use, improved water quality and instream flow, energy savings, increased yields, improved crop quality, reduced fertilizer, water, and energy costs, improved reliability of existing supplies, management flexibility, improved downstream water quality, and enhanced recreation.

Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits

Author: (2015)
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Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits emphasizes the multiple benefits of improved energy efficiency for the residential, business, and utility sectors. The multiple benefits identified within this report include comfort, health, financial, and risk-abatement. The report argues that these multiple benefits can exceed utility bill savings, and therefore should be included into management decisions, policy decisions, and efficiency programs.

The implications of drought and water conservation on the reuse of municipal wastewater: Recognizing impacts and identifying mitigation possibilities

Author: (2017)
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The implications of drought and water conservation on the reuse of municipal wastewater: Recognizing impacts and identifying mitigation possibilities illustrates how drought and water conservation strategies, such as water reuse, can lead to a reduction in effluent quantity and quality. The report demonstrates that as influent decreases as a result of drought and water conservation strategies, influent pollution concentrations (especially salinity) and wastewater treatment plant costs increase, ultimately leading to a decrease in effluent quality and flow. The report includes a case study of Southern California’s most recent drought and a water reuse decision support model (RWRM) to mitigate drought impacts on water quality.

Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply

Author: NRDC, Pacific Institute (2004)
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Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California’s Water Supply analyzes the connections between power and water resources in California. The report presents several key findings: 1) water conservation lowers energy use and energy bills, 2) water recycling is a highly energy efficient water source, 3) retiring agricultural land may increase energy use if the water is transferred to other agricultural or urban uses, 4) Retiring agricultural land can save energy if the water is dedicated to the environment, and 5) diverting water above dams costs an enormous amount of power and money. Based on these findings it is recommended that decision makers better integrate energy into water policy decision-making, as well as give water conservation higher priority.

Integrated Urban Water Model (IUWM)

Author: One Water Solutions Institute, Colorado State University (N/A)
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Integrated Urban Water Model (IUWM) is a planning tool for urban planners and water managers considering water savings from indoor and outdoor conservation through utilization of alternative water sources including greywater, stormwater, and reclaimed water. The tool utilizes lot size, land use designations, climate information, and soil characteristics to evaluate the impact of land use configurations, climate changes, conservation programs, and alternative water sources on water demands.

Envision V3 User Manual

Author: Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (2017)
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The Envision V3 (Draft Credits for Public Review and Comment) user manual outlines additions to the Envision framework, a sustainability framework that aims to analyze infrastructure projects and promote collaboration on multi-benefit projects in order to improve system synergy. The framework defines co-benefits as services not directly related to the project’s primary function, and identifies five benefit categories: 1) quality of life, 2) leadership, 3) resource allocation, 4) natural world, and 5) climate and risk. Envision V3, launched in late 2017, modifies the final category, instead calling it ‘risk and resilience’.

Envision Framework

Author: Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (N/A)
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Envision is a framework that provides the guidance needed to initiate this systemic change in the planning, design and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Envision is a decision-making guide, not a set of prescriptive measures. Envision provides industry-wide sustainability metrics for all types and sizes of infrastructure to help users assess and measure the extent to which their project contributes to conditions of sustainability across the full range of social, economic, and environmental indicators.

Water Reuse: An International Survey of Current Practice, Issues and Needs

Author: (2008)
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Water Reuse: An International Survey of Current Practice, Issues and Needs presents an in-depth review of water reuse practices from across the globe. The main objective is to show how wastewater reuse is conceived and practiced differently around the world. The sections in the book focus on different aspects of water reuse, including but not limited to, water reuse by end-use type, climate and social/economic similarities, emerging controversial topics in the field, and contrasting case studies. The book is written for all stakeholders involved in wastewater reuse applications.

Assessing Location and Scale of Urban Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems for Life-Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Author: University of California, Berkeley ReNUWIt (2016)
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Assessing Location and Scale of Urban Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems for Life-Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions examines nonpotable water reuse at different scales to compare centralized and decentralized systems for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The article presents a planning and support tool for determining the optimal scale and treatment technology for reuse in different locations and elevations.

Waste Less, Pollute Less: Using Urban Water Conservation to Advance Clean Water Act Compliance

Author: NRDC (2014)
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Waste Less, Pollute Less: Using Urban Water Conservation to Advance Clean Water Act Compliance (blog and issue brief) presents the case for water conservation and efficiency measures to help municipalities and wastewater treatment facilities improve compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The authors call on the U.S. EPA and the States to implement measures to support increased water conservation and efficiency measures with the goal of improving CWA compliance.

Stormwater Capture Master Plan

Author: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) (2015)
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Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Stormwater Capture Master Plan develops a strategy for long-term stormwater capture potential, examination of projects and programs, estimation of the value of projects with ancillary benefits, and stormwater program and policy implementations in California. Stormwater programs include on-site infiltration, green streets, subregional infiltration, on-site direct use, subregional direct use, and impervious replacement. The multiple benefits cited from increased stormwater capture include groundwater recharge, water conservation, open space alternatives, and improved downstream water quality and peak flow.

Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation

Author: Polis Project (2009)
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Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation examines the multiple benefits that are produced from the “water-energy nexus”. The benefits include indirect energy savings from municipal water and wastewater provision, indirect and direct energy use, and embedded energy for chemical manufacturing. The report includes example case studies conducted on various scales (program, municipal, provincial, and community levels), as well as provides methodologies for the quantification of the cited energy benefits.

The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits

Author: Center for Neighborhood Technology, American Rivers (2010)
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The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits is an in-depth framework for evaluating the multiple benefits of green infrastructure projects, including green roofs, tree planting, bioretention and infiltration, permeable pavement, and water harvesting. The framework provides methodologies for valuation of water, energy, air quality, and climate change-related benefits, as well as a qualitative discussion on community livability and public education benefits.

Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis for Water Recycling Projects

Author: University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences (2011)
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Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis for Water Recycling Projects provides an in-depth methodology for economic analysis of water recycling projects, including all benefits and costs “to whomsoever they accrue” at the completion of the project. The methodology includes benefits that directly affect the proposing agency, individuals, households, or businesses, such as water supply, water supply reliability, and local control, as well as the indirect benefits, such as environmental changes (i.e., streamflow, reducing groundwater pumping), recreation, nutrient loading, and effect on soil and groundwater.

The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation

Author: Center for Clean Air Policy (2011)
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The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation provides a methodology for calculating the costs and benefits of green infrastructure, with particular focus on urban climate adaptation. Benefits of green infrastructure include land value, quality of life, public health, hazard mitigation, and regulatory compliance. In the report, economic analyses are provided for “Eco-Roofs,” Green Alleys and Streets, and Urban Forestry with several case study examples provided.

Freshwater Health Index Dongjiang Basin, China: An assessment of freshwater ecosystem health

Author: Freshwater Health Index (2017)
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The Freshwater Health Index is a tool that examines three components of ecosystem health: ecosystem vitality (i.e., water quantity, water quality, basin condition, and biodiversity), ecosystem services (i.e., provisioning, regulation and support, and cultural), and governance & stakeholders (i.e., enabling environment, stakeholder management, vision and adaptive governance, and effectiveness). The report applies the Freshwater Health Index to the Dongjiang Basin in China, providing semi-quantitative scores for each ecosystem health component.

Freshwater Health Index

Author: Freshwater Health Index (N/A)
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The Freshwater Health Index provides policy-makers and resource managers with a tool to evaluate policies, management options, and tradeoffs, as well as communicate basin health to the public. The Freshwater Health Index defines freshwater health as the ability to deliver water-related ecosystem services, sustainably and equitably, at the drainage basin scale. Within the Freshwater Health Index, the three components of ecosystem health include ecosystem vitality (i.e., water quantity, water quality, basin condition, and biodiversity), ecosystem services (i.e., provisioning, regulation and support, and cultural), and governance & stakeholders (i.e., enabling environment, stakeholder management, vision and adaptive governance, and effectiveness).

Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach

Author: (2011)
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Water-use efficiency and productivity: rethinking the basin approach is a response to a paper in Water International. The paper highlights major components of inefficient water use that were ignored, examines water productivity rather than just water efficiency, and discusses co-benefits. The co-benefits of water-use efficiency examined are improved water quality, increased production, improved water supply reliability, decreased energy demands, and reduced or delayed infrastructure investments.

Green infrastructure and its catchment-scale effects: An emerging science

Author: (2017)
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Green infrastructure and its catchment-scale effects: An emerging science provides an overview of past research conducted on the impacts of green infrastructure (GI) and low-impact development (LID) on water quality (i.e. runoff and discharge) and water quantity at localized scales. The report also presents considerations for scaling GI and LID research to the catchment-scale, advances and findings in scaling efforts, and the use of models as tools for scaling.

Berkeley Resilience Strategy

Author: City of Berkeley, 100 Resilient Cities, AECOM (2016)
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100 Resilient Cities is an organization working across the globe to help plan for more resilient and successful cities. The Resilience Framework guides users towards projects that provide overall system and infrastructure resilience, often including water systems and infrastructure. The report includes a case study on Berkeley, California’s goal of adapting to climate change through green infrastructure, diversifying their water supply, and sustainable landscapes. The Resilience Framework yields a qualitative measure of ‘city resilience’, defined as “the ability of the individuals, institutions, businesses, and systems within the community to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what chronic stress or acute shock it experiences.”

Living Streets Economic Feasibility Project: Final Report

Author: Heal the Bay, Climate Resolve, GreenLA Coalition (2016)
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Living Streets Economic Feasibility Report presents an alternate, new paradigm to guide the future of street and sidewalk infrastructure design and creation for Los Angeles. The term they use for this new paradigm is “Living Streets”, and it incorporates green infrastructure and stormwater capture within street design to improve air quality, water quantity and quality, flooding, human health, and aesthetics within urban regions. The report presents the costs and benefits of Living Streets, and compares them to the costs and benefits of continuing with business as usual, as well as against what they call “Green Streets,” “Cool Streets,” and “Complete Streets.”

Water Efficiency for Instream Flow: Making the Link in Practice

Author: Alliance for Water Efficiency, American Rivers, Environmental Law Institute (2011)
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Water Efficiency for Instream Flow: Making the Link in Practice examines the potential for linking water efficiency efforts to improving instream flows within the Colorado River Basin. The report concludes that improving water efficiency can allow for population and economic growth without requiring a large investment in new or expanded water supplies or wastewater. It also concludes that environment and state regulatory requirements can drive water efficiency efforts. The report includes a qualitative discussion on the following benefits: reduced surface or groundwater withdrawals, operational flexibility for water utility, and instream flows.

Putting Green to Work: Economic Recovery Investments for Clean and Reliable Water

Author: American Rivers (2010)
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Putting Green to Work: Economic Recovery Investments for Clean and Reliable Water categorizes “green” and “bright green” projects that provide multiple environmental and economic benefits, including improved water quality and quantity, reduced runoff and flooding, groundwater recharge, improved habitats, reduced energy use, and overall water supply reliability. The report focuses primarily on green infrastructure and demand management projects, as well as leveraging natural capital for water management, including examples from specific states and cities with a focus on funding projects. The report provides a qualitative discussion of the multiple benefits.

Banking on Green: A Look at How Green Infrastructure Can Save Municipalities Money and Provide Economic Benefits Community-wide

Author: American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Landscape Architects, ECONorthwest (2012)
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Banking on Green provides a business case for green infrastructure practices in the United States. Benefits cited within the report include reduced stormwater runoff, reduced energy costs, reduced impacts of flooding, improvements in public health, and reduced infrastructure costs. Within the report, it is argued that green infrastructure can blend seamlessly with traditional grey infrastructure, and make communities more resilient in the face of extreme events and climate change. The report provides case studies of successful green infrastructure projects across the United States, and a qualitative discussion on the multiple benefits.

Management Experiences and Trends for Water Reuse Implementation in Northern California

Author: (2012)
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Management Experiences and Trends for Water Reuse Implementation in Northern California examines a survey conducted in northern California on the drivers for water reuse. The surveys included questions on wastewater discharge requirements and water supply needs; local, regional, and state policy; institutional control; economic/financial incentives; ecological goals or requirements; influential stakeholders; and technological advancements. The major hindrances included economic/financial disincentives (i.e., capital costs for construction), perceptions and social attitudes, regulatory constraints, water quality impacts, user acceptance, institutional issues, technical issues, and uncertainty within future recycled water uses.

California Water Plan, Update 2009, Volume 2: Resource Management Strategies

Author: California Department of Water Resources (2009)
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The California Water Plan presents a guide on water management strategies that can provide multiple benefits both regionally and statewide in California. The management strategies are organized by goals, such as reducing water demand, improving operational efficiency, or improving water quality, and the benefits are categorized under water supply, drought preparedness, water quality, operational flexibility, flood impacts, environmental benefits, energy benefits, recreation, and groundwater overdraft risk. The report also includes guidance on the quantitative analysis of multiple benefits for policymakers and water resource managers.

Proposition 1 Stormwater Grant Program Guidelines

Author: California State Resources Water Quality Control Board (2015)
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Proposition 1 Stormwater Grant Program Guidelines, related to the Stormwater Grant Program (SWGP), establishes the process and criteria by which Proposition 1 funds are awarded in the state of California. The guidelines seek to encourage public agencies to develop multi-benefit stormwater management plans, as specified in the Stormwater Resource Planning Act (SB 985), that reframe stormwater projects, including dry-weather runoff as a water supply resource.

Adapting to Change: Utility Systems and Declining Flows

Author: California Urban Water Agencies (2017)
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Adapting to Change: Utility Systems and Declining Flows explores the consequences of reduced indoor flows related to conservation on urban water supply systems in California. The report illustrates that demand management through water use efficiency can have many co-benefits including improved drought resilience, improved in-stream flows, reduced or deferred cost of infrastructure, and reduced energy costs; declining flows, however, can negatively impact water distribution, conveyance, wastewater treatment, and recycled water policy. Specific examples and details are presented within the report, including survey and interview data.

Water Storage Investment Program Technical Reference

Author: California Water Commission (2016)
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Water Storage Investment Program Technical Reference details the methodology for quantifying the co-benefits or adverse impacts of water storage projects under California’s Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). The report outlines methods for quantification of various co-benefits and adverse impacts, providing guidance on defining future site conditions, calculating physical changes, monetizing project benefits and costs, comparing benefits and costs, properly allocating costs to beneficiaries, determining cost-effectiveness and public-benefit ratio, and evaluating sources of uncertainty. Projects that quantify public benefits following these methodologies are eligible for California state bond funding to pay for the public benefits.