We empower governments, businesses, utilities, and communities to enhance water security by investing in “natural infrastructure,” like forests and wetlands, as part of a portfolio of smart solutions to growing water challenges.
Nos últimos anos, graves crises de água têm preocupado as principais cidades do Brasil. No Rio de Janeiro, a poluição severa na Baía de Guanabara está colocando em risco as competições de vela e outros esportes aquáticos dos próximos Jogos Olímpicos. A...
Natural infrastructure, strategically managed natural and open spaces like forests or wetlands, can direct more clean water to cities by controlling water flows, preventing sediment buildup and absorbing pollutants before they flow into waterways.
While droughts, floods and increasingly rapid groundwater depletion are cause for concern, this year presents unprecedented opportunities to pursue better water management. Director of WRI's Global Water program Betsy Otto explains.
Recent extreme droughts and floods have forced an evaluation of how water infrastructure impacts other sectors, highlighting the need for a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral approach to balance environmental, social and economic concerns against a backdrop of climate change.
Securing clean water is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States. Infrastructure like dams and treatment plants are aging, water demand is increasing, and more frequent extreme weather events like wildfires and flooding are driving up the cost of water management.
It’s a complex problem, but one of the potential solutions is decidedly low-tech: Invest in nature.
Natural ecosystems provide essential services for our communities. Forests and wetlands, for example, filter the water we drink, protect neighborhoods from floods and droughts, and shade aquatic habitat for fish populations.
While nature provides this “green infrastructure,” water utilities and other decision-makers often attempt to replicate these services with concrete-and-steel “gray infrastructure”—usually at a much greater cost. Particularly where the equivalent natural ecosystems are degraded, we build filtration plants to clean water, reservoirs to regulate water flow, and mechanical chillers to protect fish from increasing stream temperatures. And even though healthy ecosystems can reduce the operational costs of these structures, investing in restoring or enhancing various types of green infrastructure is rarely pursued—either as a substitute for or complement to gray infrastructure.
Despite America’s history of reliance on gray infrastructure, now is a critical time to tip the scales in favor of a green infrastructure approach to water-resource management. Investing in the conservation and improved management of natural ecosystems to secure and protect water systems can keep costs down and create jobs. Green infrastructure can also provide a suite of co-benefits for the air we breathe, the places we play, the wildlife we share our landscapes with, and the climate we live in.