Water Institute, US Business Council for Sustainable Development Form Strategic Alliance

water_institute_600x500      US BCSD with Text

BATON ROUGE, La. and AUSTIN, Texas (February 9, 2015) — Nearly a decade after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravaged the Louisiana coastline, two groups that have separately tackled a number of issues involving the protective role played by the region’s eroding wetlands and the importance of Louisiana’s water resources are now joining forces.

The Water Institute of the Gulf and the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) today announced an agreement that will allow the organizations to collaborate on applied research aimed at finding solutions to water challenges in the region and around the world.

The agreement creates an alliance between two groups that have been working to help industries and their surrounding communities find sustainable solutions to water resource issues. It joins The Water Institute, a Louisiana-based non-profit research institute, and the US BCSD, a Texas-based non-profit that uses collaborative projects and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges.

The US BCSD is composed of 55 U.S. companies sharing a commitment to pursuing sustainable development. It is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a global network of more than 200 international companies that serves as the umbrella organization for 65 similar national business councils worldwide.

“We’re extremely excited to add the US BCSD to our strong network of partners,” said Chip Groat, Ph.D., president and CEO of The Water Institute. “The council’s relationships with the private sector will add valuable capacity to efforts to meet challenges and develop solutions across the Gulf Coast, the nation and beyond.”

“This collaboration will provide valuable technical expertise to project participants as they tackle water challenges that are key to their businesses and communities,” said Andrew Mangan, Executive Director of the US BCSD. “Together, our two organizations will seek ways to convert water challenges to economic opportunities in ways that benefit people, ecosystems and businesses.”

The US BCSD’s Louisiana Water Synergy Project will serve as the platform for the organizations’ initial cooperative venture. The project, which began in May 2012, provides a forum for business leaders with infrastructure investments in southern Louisiana to collaborate on efforts to help ensure sustainable water supplies while protecting wetlands and improving water quality in the region.

The project involves 21 companies representing a wide range of industrial sectors, including manufacturing, beverages, oil and gas, chemicals and utilities. Participants also include representatives from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

A key objective for the pilot is to develop a replicable work process that can be applied in other watersheds and regions.

About The Water Institute of the Gulf
The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world. This mission supports the practical application of innovative science and engineering, providing solutions that benefit society. For more information, visit www.thewaterinstitute.org.

About the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD)
The US BCSD is an action oriented and member-led nonprofit business association that harnesses the power of collaborative projects, platforms and partnerships to develop, deploy and scale solutions to ecosystems, energy, materials and water challenges. For more information, visit www.usbcsd.org.

Louisiana Water Synergy Project highlighted in The Advocate


Industries in Louisiana have been working with environmental groups, state agencies and university scientists to brainstorm potential solutions addressing water quality issues. Ranging from wetlands restoration to reducing the size of the annual low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, the collaboration through the Louisiana Water Synergy Project is meant to deal with potential risks to water in the Baton Rouge-New Orleans industrial corridor and beyond.

The project got started several years ago through the efforts of the nonprofit United States Business Council for Sustainable Development, said Susan Fernandes, manager of the project with the council. “Water is critical to business, but it’s also critical to agriculture, the cities where we live and the environment,” Fernandes said Wednesday. Fernandes’ comments came on the first day of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association annual meeting in New Orleans. Read more.

What participants are saying about the Louisiana Water Synergy Project

We recently asked three participants in the US BCSD’s Louisiana Water Synergy Project to provide comments about the project – here’s what they had to say:

“I think the Water Synergy Project was and is a great idea. All that I can say is that the sky is the limit as to where it can go and is up to the team to determine. The best thing about the project is the diverse group of stakeholders at all levels that it brought together. We have industry, agriculture, and regulatory representatives sitting at the same table, working together to develop innovative solutions to complex issues. I would be glad to discuss the Water Synergy Project with people from other regions.” Eric Hillman, EHS Specialist, BASF

“The Water Synergy Project has offered an excellent opportunity to interface with a diverse group of stakeholders in southeast Louisiana. Unlike our industry specific work groups, e.g. oil and gas, the project included voices from the food and beverage industry, regional planning officials, state regulatory officials, non-chemical manufacturing, and wetlands restoration experts. Through the project we were able to perform a study for alternate uses of wastewater to enhance wetlands growth. This initial work helped to build relationships within the team that have fostered communication and idea developments as we continue to identify ways to use water sustainably, minimize wastewater discharge impacts, and foster healthy wetlands systems. Through one of the participants in the project, our company contributed $10,000 and many volunteers as part of a wetlands reforestation project in our area.

The project is now looking forward to a nutrient reduction trading program in preparation for expected nutrient discharge rules for the Lower Mississippi River. This is a very exciting approach that may offer significant benefits for the region. For instance, rather than building a multimillion dollar reactor for enhanced nutrient removal from wastewater, these resources could be used to restore lost areas of wetlands which in turn become sinks for nutrients and for carbon.” Robert J.T. Martin, P.E.; Director Health, Safety, and Environment; Valero St. Charles Refinery

“When I was initially approached about the Water Synergy Project, I saw it as an opportunity for my members and others to discuss water issues and needs outside the typical day-to-day regulatory constraints. For Louisiana, this includes groundwater protection, wetlands restoration, hurricane protection, Mississippi River nutrient loading, historic industry growth potential, etc. I saw the Project providing a forum to explore these related, yet regulatory separated, issues to identify and explore innovative common sense solutions. It is allowing us to have conversations we otherwise would not have gotten together to discuss.” Richard Metcalf, Director of Environmental Affairs, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Assn.

New USCCF Report Highlights the US BCSD’s Industrial Scale Water Collaboration


On March 20th the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation released a new report titled “Achieving Energy and Water Security: Scalable Solutions from the Private Sector.” Featuring more than 25 business success stories, the report shows how companies solve energy and water challenges in their operations and supply chains. The US BCSD’s Louisiana Water Synergy Project is highlighted as one of the 25.

For the past two years, the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) has worked with 21 diverse companies in the lower Mississippi River watershed to address a range of water issues. Coca-Cola is working with Mosaic Fertilizer to address water quality concerns. Valero Energy and Nucor Steel Louisiana LLC have explored new options for wetlands restoration through changes in water management. Projects and policy recommendations have emerged that have been greeted with high interest by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and from a concurrent public sector regional water planning effort.

This multi-sector teaming demonstrates that there is considerable regional interest in using the speed and efficiency of market-based institutions to seek out ways of converting water problems into economic opportunities, and to develop a collective capacity for conserving watershed systems as both private and public goods. (Page 40)

Visit the USCCF’s website to download the report and learn more about how the private sector leverages new technologies, innovation, partnerships, and other approaches to help achieve greater energy and water security. The report also features best practices from leading companies including FedEx, Shell, Ford, Microsoft, Office Depot, and more.

Voluntary Action Leads New Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy

NutrientThe Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) are working together to create a new Nutrient Management Strategy for the state of Louisiana. Their purpose is to manage nitrogen and phosphorous to protect and restore water quality in Louisiana’s inland and coastal waters – using incentives and voluntary action to get there.

The task force released a review draft of the strategy in December 2013, calling on numerous state and federal agencies and stakeholders from the watershed to play a part in implementing the strategy.

The US BCSD’s Water Synergy Project is highlighted for proactively addressing nutrient management issues and is cited for providing input to the Louisiana Statewide Nutrient Management Strategy. The project’s focus on stakeholder engagement, voluntary action, and cross-sector collaboration provided examples of nutrient management efforts already at work.

Implementation of the multi-component strategy includes creating river diversions, using best management practices and conservation practices at non-point sources, promoting wetland assimilation at point sources, providing incentives to practice stewardship, taking advantage of opportunities to leverage current efforts, and utilizing new science-based technologies and applications.

The state of Louisiana is currently accepting comment on the review draft of the strategy through January 31, 2014. To view the draft yourself, visit http://www.lanutrientmanagement.org/. For more information on the Louisiana Water Synergy Project, visit http://water-synergy.org/.

Water Quality and Nutrients Management Unites Industry, Regulators and the Agriculture Community

In a multi-part release over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting a series of updates exploring key themes and recent outcomes from the Louisiana Water Synergy Project. While these themes are Louisiana-specific, all of them can be applicable to most watersheds in the US.

During the July 30th Louisiana Water Synergy Project meeting, guests from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), and the Louisiana State University AgCenter joined project participants to discuss nutrients management and water quality in watersheds across the state of Louisiana.

LDEQ, the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority (CPRA), LDAF, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) are working on a comprehensive Louisiana nutrient management plan with the goal of managing nutrient levels in inland and coastal water bodies.

AgricultureThe nutrient management plan will be released by the end of 2013, and includes water quality monitoring, point source wetland assimilation, coastal river diversions, and best management practices. LDEQ is seeking to incentivize non-point sources – like municipalities and agricultural operations – to adopt best management practices. They also encourage industry in LA to openly communicate what they’re already doing to manage nutrients in an effort to foster a positive relationship between point and non-point sources.

Farmers and ranchers face significant challenges to produce more and impact less in this era of rapidly increasing global population. While interested in using best management practices, producers look to their consumers for help getting there. An example of such collaboration is Kellogg’s Rice Master Grower program, a joint effort between the Kellogg Company, the Louisiana Rice Mill, and the Louisiana State University AgCenter. The program recognizes farmers based on their growing practices, giving the highest honors to those who utilize best management practices most extensively.

Discussions between regulators, industry, and the agriculture community at Water Synergy Project meetings have proven the common goal of managing nutrients and water quality unites the sectors – with all sides interested in collaboration. One pilot project currently being explored would focus on an impaired inland lake where facilities and farmers operating in the region could work together to identify needs, take action, and possibly engage in environmental markets where the costs and benefits of the project are shared among participating parties.

Collaboration between regulators, industry, and the agriculture community has the potential to comprehensively improve water quality in Southern Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, and replicating the project process in other watersheds has potential to improve water quality throughout the country. Visit our water page or contact Susan Fernandes for information.

WBCSD Business Guide to Water Valuation

water valuationThe WBSCD has launched a Business guide to water valuation in recognition of the difficulty businesses face in accurately measuring the importance of water. This new publication aims to provide business guidance on how to assess the value of water to their operations but also to society as a whole. Better valuing water can in fact help companies better manage water, thus reduce water stress and ensure the sustainability of their future operations. The guide shares best practices concepts and techniques to help managers commission, manage and review water valuation studies, and make the best use of the findings.

It draws upon 25 business-related valuation cases that demonstrate how water valuation can be used to reach different goals, and that illustrate the valuation concepts and techniques. Peter Bakker, President, WBCSD said,

“There is a global recognition that water is rarely valued appropriately and as water demand continues to stretch and stress our water supply, businesses will increasingly need to account for the real value of water they are using in order to inform decision-making. And more broadly, greater practical collaboration and local participation is needed in the collective management of water to ensure long-term access to the resource in the context of competing demands.”

This collaboration is a key part of the WBCSD’s Action 2020 framework to achieve core societal and planetary goals through business solutions by 2020. Click here to download the full report.

Impacts of Industrial Development on Water Resources

In a multi-part release over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting a series of updates exploring key themes and recent outcomes from the Louisiana Water Synergy Project. While these themes are Louisiana-specific, all of them can be applicable to most watersheds in the US.

On July 30th, the Louisiana Water Synergy Project held its quarterly meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, bringing over 35 representatives of academia, industry, service companies, and regulators together to discuss their shared interests in water quality, quantity, storm water management, and coastal resiliency.

LSU(1)The LSU Center for Energy Studies estimates $62 billion in industrial investments are planned for Louisiana including new facilities and expansions of existing facilities, with a large portion coming from the chemical, refining, and manufacturing sectors. The Center predicts most of the development will occur along the Mississippi River corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans – the heart of the Water Synergy Project area.

David Dismukes, Associate Director at the Center, is examining the potential economic impacts associated with these planned capital investments in Louisiana over the next nine years, which are driven in large part by the increased availability and low cost of natural gas.

Facilities highlighted for expansions or new construction include liquid natural gas (LNG), gas to liquid (GTL), and chemical production including methanol, ammonia, and polymer. Water is used to re-vaporize LNG, as a feedstock for chemical production, and in the transport of goods to terminals. Each use is accompanied by potential water management challenges; and as industry grows, water use will intensify.

An influx of industrial development comes with a substantial increase the number of jobs, and workers to fill those positions. Louisiana will not only experience economic development, but also infrastructure challenges as the population rises. Non-point source pollution is often solely attributed to agriculture, but according to the EPA, the second leading source of water quality impairment in the United States is municipal point sources, followed by changes in land use and urban runoff. (source) As neighborhoods expand, impacts to water quality and quantity will follow.

The scale of the development projected for Louisiana is unprecedented and exponentially raises the importance of cross-sector communication and management of water resources. The Louisiana Water Synergy Project is led by members of oil and gas, chemical, energy, alumina, steel, cement, fertilizer industries and service companies. Representation from the agriculture sector is expected to join soon. Through our meetings individual water challenges are revealed to be common issues, best management practices are shared, and unified strategies are developed; strategies that will be crucial for effective water management in the years to come.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Approves PACE Program for Low-Cost Financing of Water, Energy Conservation Projects

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation allowing local property taxing authorities to enact ordinances enabling Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs across the state. PACE financing will allow commercial and industrial building owners to obtain low-cost, long-term private sector financing for water conservation and energy-efficiency improvements. With Gov. Perry’s signature, the PACE program is effective immediately.

The Texas PACE Act places emphasis on energy and water saving retrofits in industrial and commercial properties, effectively incentivizing some of the largest energy consumers in the country to reduce their consumption. Texas consumes more electricity than any other state, and industry accounts for almost half of that energy use, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

New efficiencies in equipment and processes – including some efficiencies identified through the US BCSD’s By-Product and Water Synergy methodologies – will dramatically lower water usage, energy needs and costs, as well as reduced waste and disposal costs. PACE districts have been authorized in 30 states, with impressive financial benefits already apparent. Recently in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a $65,000 project to improve lighting, insulation, heating and cooling systems and reducing water use at a commercial property was completed and projected savings for tenants in energy costs range from $500 to $5,000 a year.

For the last nine years, CEOs have ranked Texas as the best state in which to do business. “PACE will help Texans meet the conservation goals in our State Water Plan and reduce demand on our electric grid,” says Sen. John Carona, sponsor of SB 385. “These savings will benefit the building owners directly and help keep the Texas economic engine primed for growth and prepared for the continuing influx of people moving to Texas to share in our prosperity.”

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