Nature Conservancy launches major water fund to protect clean water in MN

The Nature Conservancy announced that it is establishing the Minnesota Headwaters Fund to support high-impact water conservation projects to protect clean water in the state's lakes and rivers for the benefit of nature, people and business.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Sept. 11, 2015 -- Today, the Nature Conservancy announced that it is establishing the Minnesota Headwaters Fund to support high-impact water conservation projects to protect clean water in the state's lakes and rivers for the benefit of nature, people and business.

This $10-million privately funded investment will support protection and conservation work throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin, including easements, stream bank and floodplain restoration, and other projects that prevent pollutants such as nitrates and sediment from entering key rivers and lakes.

The Conservancy is working to raise $10 million in private dollars over the next three years from companies, foundations and individuals. For example, Ecolab Inc., a provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, is the first company to contribute to the Fund, with a $500,000 commitment through the Ecolab Foundation.

The Minnesota Headwaters Fund will support initiatives to protect clean water supplies from the impacts of converting land from forest to urban and agricultural uses. Land conversion has been proven to significantly impact water quality by elevating levels of nitrogen and other pollutants and, in turn, increasing the costs to communities of providing clean water.

According to projections based on the 2010 census, Minnesota's population is likely to grow by approximately one million people by 2030. Much of that growth is expected to occur in the Twin Cities metro area and central Minnesota, where demand for Mississippi River water is already high.

At the same time that demand for fresh water is increasing, rapid land conversion around these critical watersheds is threatening water quality. Recent studies show that Minnesota has the second-highest rate of deforestation in the country. More than 260,000 acres of forest, wetland and grassland that drain into the Mississippi River above the Twin Cities were converted to agriculture and urban development between 2008 and 2013, according to data compiled by the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and the Conservancy.

The Minnesota Headwaters Fund's protection and restoration work will be guided by InVest, a science-based model developed by the Natural Capital Project to map and document the benefits nature provides to people. The Natural Capital Project works to integrate the values of nature into all major decisions affecting the environment and human well-being.

See also:

"Nature's Return: Investment in Watershed Conservation Yields Significant Cost-Savings for Water Utilities"

"Broad coalition of NGOs announce support for Urban Waters Federal Partnership"

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