64 Multi-Benefit Resources


A Path Forward forCalifornia’s FreshwaterEcosystems

Author: Mount et al., Public Policy Institute of California (2019)
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A Path Forward for California’s Freshwater Ecosystems makes the case for shifting Endangered Species Act implementation from the species to the ecosystem level. This shift could allow for the creation of direct ecosystem-based objectives and increase implementation of multiple benefit projects.

The Effect of Low-Impact-Development on Property Values

Author: Ward et al., ECONorthwest (2008)
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The Effect of Low-Impact-Development on Property Values examines the added value to houses in a zip code in Seattle, WA with low impact development (LID). Homes with LID sold for 3-5% more than other homes with the same amenities. This indicates people value the aesthetic, economic, and natural benefits of LID on properties.

The Marginal Economic Value of Streamflow From National Forests

Author: Thomas Brown, U.S. Forest Service (2004)
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The Marginal Economic Value of Streamflow From National Forests uses water markets to estimate the marginal value of streamflow in surface water bodies originating in national forests. Evaluating 2,000 western U.S. transactions, the authors find the value of water varies widely with location. This indicates local evaluation is needed for accurate valuation and general valuations are only useful for rough estimates.

Recreation Benefits of Instream Flow: Application to Montana’s Big Hole and Bitterroot Rivers

Author: Duffield et al., US Forest Service (1998)
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Recreation Benefits of Instream Flow: Application to Montana’s Big Hole and Bitterroot Rivers uses economic valuation to calculate recreational and downstream energy production benefits. The authors develop an instream valuation framework and apply it to a Montana river case study.

Portland’s Green Infrastructure: Quantifying the Health, Energy, and Community Livability Benefits

Author: City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (2010)
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Portland’s Green Infrastructure: Quantifying the Health, Energy, and Community Livability Benefits quantifies the benefits of green infrastructure (GI) initiatives. Using available research and data, the city quantified benefits in energy and described benefits to community livability and health. This report breaks down the benefits by different GI types to show how projects impact each benefit category.

Lower Snake River Dams: Economic Tradeoffs of Removal

Author: EconNorthwest (2019)
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The report, Lower Snake River Dams: Economic Tradeoffs of Removal, analyzes the costs and benefits of removing four dams along the lower Snake River in Washington State. The analysis applies economic values to the following benefits and tradeoffs: changes related to hydropower electric grid services, irrigation water supply, transportation along on the river corridor, recreation, and non-use values such as a restored natural river system and reduced extinction risk of wild salmon.

The Napa River Basin, California

Author: Naturally Resilient Communities (2016)
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The Napa River Basin, California provides a short overview of the multi-benefit approach taken by the Napa River communities to mitigate flood risk. The chosen approach deliberately sought not only to reduce the risk and impact of flooding from the Napa River, but also to preserve and restore habitat, reconnect the floodplain, and improve community livability.

Plant Community Composition and Biodiversity Patterns in Urban Parks of Portland, Oregon

Author: Talal & Santelmann, Oregon State University (2019)
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Plant Community Composition and Biodiversity Patterns in Urban Parks of Portland, Oregon examines the correlations between park attributes and plant communities. This research article shows significant relationships between park type and the presence of non-native or native species. It also provides analysis on which parks provide the best habitat for specific groups of species. The results help managers to optimize park plans to protect desired species and incorporate biodiversity benefits into design of green spaces.

Bringing Water and Land Use Together

Author: Local Government Commission (2019)
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Bringing Water and Land Use Together discusses Integrated Regional Water Management. This strategy is similar to the multi-benefit framework and integrates multiple groups of stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions to water management issues. The report highlights case studies throughout California that have adopted different integrated management approaches. It provides lists of recommendations for different stakeholders attempting to engage in integrated management.

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

Author: Gleick et al., 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.

Restoring Natural Fire Regimes Can Yield More Water Downstream

Author: Biosramé et al., University of California, Berkeley (2019)
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Research from Yosemite National Park provides a new understanding of one of the potential benefits of restoring a forest’s natural fire regime: more downstream flow and less water stress. Since the 1970s one watershed in Yosemite has been managed to allow for a natural fire regime, leading to a reduction in vegetation density across the basin. Their findings from modeling differences in water stress and downstream flow suggest that fire suppression would have led to increased water stress and decreased downstream flows as compared to the current management strategy of allowing for natural fires.

A Northwest Vision for 2040 Water Infrastructure

Author: Roth & Mazza, Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (2017)
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In A Northwest Vision for 2040 Water Infrastructure the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure presents a vision for the future of water management for the Northwestern U.S. The vision describes how Northwest communities can develop integrated, sustainable, and resilient water systems that address water quality, water supply, and flooding. The report is full of qualitative descriptions of the benefits of this more sustainable and equitable vision and provides numerous real-world examples of how and where Northwest communities are already working towards this future.

Performance of Two Bioswales on Urban Runoff Management

Author: Xiao et al., (2017)
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This study evaluated the effectiveness of two bioswales eight years after construction in Davis, California. An identically sized control bioswale consisting of non-disturbed native soil was located adjacent to the treatment bioswale. Surface runoff quantity and quality were measured during three experiments with different pollutant loads.

San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas

Author: San Francisco Estuary Institute, SPUR (2019)
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The San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas offers practitioners and decision makers in the region a comprehensive, science-based framework for assessing, planning, and designing sea level rise adaptation strategies. The framework organizes adaptation strategies around geographically connected areas, called Operational Landscape Units (OLUs); these OLUs are explained in depth with specific strategies considered for each within the Atlas’ mapping tool.

Measuring Benefits of Distributed, Nature-Based Stormwater Projects

Author: The River Project (2018)
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Measuring Benefits of Distributed, Nature-Based Stormwater Projects explores a variety of factors relevant to the assessment of distributed, nature-based stormwater projects. This report provides a useful discussion around definitions of terms, typology, scale, and other important factors related to the comparison of green, grey, and green/grey infrastructure.

Water LA

Author: The River Project (2018)
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The 2018 Water LA report by the River Project explores the opportunities for and challenges of building a resilient region by making small, distributed changes to the urban landscape. The report offers a case study from LA where parcel-scale water management projects provide different social, environmental, and economic benefits.

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

Author: Einstein & Litke, 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.

Healthy Lands and Healthy Economies: The multiple benefits of Sonoma County working and natural lands

Author: Sonoma County Ag + Open Space (2018)
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Sonoma County Ag + Open Space presents the results of a thorough economic assessment of the county’s agricultural and natural lands, incorporating the multiple benefits of these landscapes.

Health Lands and Healthy Economies website

Author: Sonoma County Ag + Open Space (N/A)
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This is the landing page for Sonoma County Ag + Open Space Health Lands & Healthy Economies program. This website includes links to many resources on multi-benefit valuation of agricultural and natural lands.

The estimated impact of California’s urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Author: Spang, Holguin, & Loge, (2018)
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In The estimated impact of California’s urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Spang et al. use the reported water conservation data to assess how the water utilities have responded to the 2015 California water reduction mandate and to estimate the electricity savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions associated with reduced operation of urban water infrastructure systems.

Embedded Energy in Water Studies 1, 2 and 3

Author: California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) (2010)
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CPUCs Embedded Energy in Water Studies provide a California statewide assessment of energy use by the water sector and energy use by water customers. There are three separate reports, each including supporting appendices and materials, that document methodology, data collection, case studies, and findings of the investigation.

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.

Informing watershed planning and policy in the Truckee River basin through stakeholder engagement, scenario development, and impact evaluation

Author: Podolak et al., (2017)
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In Informing watershed planning… Podolak et al. evaluate the water quality and water quantity impacts of stream andl and restoration activities in the Truckee River watershed, in the context of regulatory compliance goals. Using the InVEST model to compare stakeholder-determined scenarios of different restoration activities, locations, and investment levels, the results demonstrate how these differences impact water quality outcomes.

Climate information? Embedding climate futures within temporalities of California water management

Author: Baker, Ekstrom, & Bedsworth, (2018)
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Climate information? Embedding climate futures within temporalities of California water management analyzes the use of climate change information in water resources management decisions in California. The information was obtained by conducting interviews (n=61) with drinking water utility managers in California, analyzing three different methodologies for incorporation of climate change information: 1) modeled futures, 2) whose future?, and 3) truncated futures. The interviews revealed that ‘modeled futures’ most closely aligned with supply-demand projections in widely-accepted literature.

California Beach Restoration Study Chapter 3: The Benefits of California’s Beaches

Author: California State Parks, Division of Boating and Wildlife (2002)
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California Beach Restoration Study Chapter 3: The Benefits of California’s Beaches is a chapter of a larger report on beach restoration in California. The chapter is divided into five sections, including discussions on 1) how beaches fulfill recreational needs within California, 2) the fiscal impact of beaches in California, 3) the value of beach restoration projects to recreation, 4) a San Diego case study on beach overcrowding, and 5) the public safety and environmental benefits of beaches. This particular chapter focuses on the economic value of beaches and their restoration.

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Author: Cooley, Christian-Smith, & Gleick, 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.

An Analysis of the Energy Intensity of Water in California: Providing a Basis for Quantification of Energy Savings from Water System Improvements

Author: Wilkinson et al., (2006)
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An Analysis of the Energy Intensity of Water in California: Providing a Basis for Quantification of Energy Savings from Water System Improvements analyzes water-related energy use in California. The report examines energy inputs to water systems for: 1) primary water extraction, conveyance, and storage, 2) treatment and distribution within service areas, 3) on-site water pumping, treatment, and thermal inputs, and 4) wastewater collection, treatment, and discharge. The report concludes that “with better information regarding the energy implications of water use, public policy and combined investment and management strategies between energy, water, and wastewater agencies and utilities can be improved.” The benefits cited for these energy savings include avoided capital and operating costs, reduced burden on rate-payers, improved distribution of capital, and environmental benefits.

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

Author: Vahmani & Ban-Weiss, (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.

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 conservation benefits of urban heat mitigation

Author: Vahmani & Jones, (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.

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.

OneWaterSF

Author: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) (2018)
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OneWaterSF is an integrated systems approach adopted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) that aims to provide greater water and energy resource reliability and resiliency, water infrastructure optimization, and contributions to the livability and sustainability of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.The source contains examples of OneWaterSF programs in San Francisco, including a Water Reuse Program, a Resource Recovery and Solar Energy Program, a Stormwater Management Ordinance, and Westside Recycled Water Project and San Francisco Groundwater Project. The benefits cited in these projects and programs include water and energy savings, stormwater management, restoration of watersheds and ecosystems, improvements to community aesthetics, and increased educational opportunities.

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

Author: Cohen, Nelson, & Wolff, 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.

Green Infrastructure and Water Supply: A Case Study of the City of Los Angeles

Author: TreePeople, Council for Watershed Health, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (2015)
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Green Infrastructure and Water Supply: A Case Study of the City of Los Angeles presents a two-page report on a modeling effort that identified areas in Los Angeles with potential for groundwater recharge, particularly using stormwater. The results showed potential for recharge to go from the current average of 0.274 AF/acre to an average of 0.97 AF/acre, using low impact development (LID) practices.

Rainwater as a Resource: A Report on Three Sites Demonstrating Sustainable Stormwater Management

Author: TreePeople (2007)
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Rainwater as a Resource: A Report on Three Sites Demonstrating Sustainable Stormwater Management (2007) presents three case studies for stormwater management: (1) single-family, parcel sized greening in South Los Angeles, CA, (2) campus greening at Hillery T. Broadous Elementary School in Pacoima, CA, and (3) campus greening at Open Charter Magnet Elementary School in Westchester, CA. The report includes costs and quantified benefits for tree benefits (tree canopy, carbon storage, carbon sequestration, energy savings), stormwater benefits (runoff reduction, avoided storage), and air pollution benefits (ozone, SO2, NO2, PM10, and CO removal). The report also includes a discussion of additional non-quantified benefits including student health and safety, green waste reuse, and green recreation space.

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

Author: Tran, Jassby, & Schwabe, (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.

The Value of Water Supply Reliability in the Residential Sector

Author: Raucher et al., WateReuse Research Foundation, Bureau of Reclamation, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (2006)
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The Value of Water Supply Reliability in the Residential Sector describes residential customer’s willingness to pay for improving water reliability. The ‘stated preference’ surveys revealed that residential customers were willing to pay in the range of $20-$40 per year to improve water supply reliability and avoid relatively severe water use restrictions, but are not willing to pay as much to reduce low-level water use restrictions. The survey also revealed that water reuse had large customer support, whereas raising water rates and increasing water imports did not have much support.

One Water Plan

Author: Santa Clara Valley Water District (2017)
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The One Water Plan for the Santa Clara Valley Water District integrates water supply, water quality, and flood control initiatives to promote overall system efficiency. The One Water approach to water resource management is set by the 1) vision, 2) goals, 3) objectives, 4) strategies, and 5) project, program, policy, and partnership. The goals for implementing this integrated stormwater approach include improved water supply reliability and water quality, ecological sustainability, resilient baylands, and community collaboration. This plan acts as a guide for management decisions within the five major basins in Santa Clara County: Guadalupe, Coyote, Uvas/Llagas, Lower Peninsula, and West Valley.

Just the FACTS: Dams in California

Author: Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) (2017)
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Just the FACTS: Dams in California highlights several key considerations of dams in California. The considerations include the crucial role of dams in water management in California, the multiple objectives that dams are designed to meet and the conflicts that exist within these objectives, the need for dam infrastructure upgrades, the benefits of new dams, and the reasons to remove old dams. The multiple benefits of dams include supplying water, reducing flood risk, providing energy, and recreation, however, in order to provide these benefits dam operations conflict with several public benefits, including wildlife habitats and recreation.