Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) — One-fourth of cities would see a
“positive return on investment” if spending was directed at
conserving and protecting vital watershed sources, according to
The Nature Conservancy.
Preventing pollution and sediment from reaching potable
sources often costs less than later treating that water, the
Arlington, Virginia-based organization said today in a report
that analyzed 2,000 sources of drinking water for 534 cities.
The Urban Water Blueprint was completed through a partnership
with the International Water Association and the C40 Cities
Climate Leadership Group.
“I live in New York, I get my water from the Catskills,
and the city 20 years ago decided to invest to protect the
source of its water supply,” Daniel Shemie, director of water
funds for The Nature Conservancy, said today. “They found it to
be very cost-effective — an investment of about $1.5 billion
saved a $6 billion to $8 billion expenditure. For years, we’ve
been asking ourselves, ‘Where are the other New Yorks?’”
More than 700 million people in the 100 largest and mid-sized cities could benefit from similar investments as well as
from improved agricultural and forest-management techniques,
according to the report, released a day ahead of the UN’s World
Toilet Day that highlights improving global sanitation.
The report described Britain’s water quality as under
“unprecedented pressure from high nutrient and sediment levels
due to increasing populations, climate change and environmental
degradation.” Bristol and Glasgow were cited as cities that
could improve their waters through conservation efforts and
lower water-treatment costs by about 5 percent.
“We wanted to go beyond the risk picture and just painting
the map red with elements of risk to painting the map green —
where conservation activities can help cities and where are the
best investment opportunities,” said Robert McDonald, a senior
scientist for The Nature Conservancy.
The report said the potential market for global cities’
conservation spending efforts may approach $18 billion.
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