Watershed investment programs offer promising pathways to securing safe drinking water. But what does it take to establish and grow a successful watershed investment program? Program investors and practitioners are looking for guidance and ideas on how to build a program that works for their own context.

This report addresses this need by compiling experiences and lessons from 13 watershed investment programs from across the United States. Based on a 3-year comparative case study analysis, it serves as a roadmap to guide utilities and communities as they work together to protect precious source waters.

Key Findings

Based on comparison of 13 case studies from across the U.S., this report identifies 10 lessons for successful program establishment and development. These lessons were commonly identified by program practitioners as key to success, despite differences in geography or context.

Executive Summary

Watershed investment programs aim to sustain the supply of clean and safe water to communities by funding the conservation and restoration of lands that protect water quantity and quality. These programs connect downstream water users (such as water utilities, municipal governments, businesses, and the public) to upstream landowners (such as private forest owners and public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service). They unite drinking water utilities, rural landowners, government agencies, conservation organizations, and others around the goal of providing safe drinking water through sustainably managed watersheds.