Ore.-based West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, a non-profit created in 2012 by California, Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia to spur infrastructure invest- ment.
While quite a bit of funding cur-
rently goes to programs in the Colorado River Basin, Munévar said not all of it is designated “specifically on creating a water savings aspect.” “We’re investing currently on the
order of half a billion annually and not all of that is focused on the water gap aspects or the water related vulnerabili- ties in order to address those challenges. We need something on the order of three times the investment that has historically been occurring,” he said. Much of the investment will occur at the local level to ensure continued resiliency. Federal and state funding will continue, with the former remain- ing fairly static. Tat leaves an opening for new sources of funding, whether it’s private investment or user fees or surcharges.
“A Basin fund that would allow for some private equity distributed to the common cause? I wouldn’t say no to that out of the box.”
– John Entsminger, SNWA
“We’ll likely need all of these differ-
ent investment types to address the long- term challenges,” Munévar said. “It’s not one or the other.” Private investment is intriguing
because “we’ve barely tapped the space of [it],” he said, adding that “a large range of project packages could be put together to attract different types of investments” and that private capital’s need for a specific return on its invest- ment could clearly identified within the scope of the project.
Drought preparedness is one example identified as something that could attract private funding through a watershed conservation fund.
“With investment, we need certain assurances and performance metrics,” Munévar said. “Tat is essentially the return on that investment and how we measure that. So, if we want to broaden the investment base for the Basin, we need to provide those assurances.” Te process requires proper oversight, criteria development and the long-term governance of a fund. From there is consideration of the benefits achieved and their allocation “We have this system water versus
what I’d call target beneficiary water,” Munévar said. “Tere are some who will make the case that the only way you can stoke real investment is if we make it a target beneficiary or user ‘X’ pays for user ‘Y’ to save water and that water gets transferred and colored and shepherded down the river to user ‘X.’ Along with that comes an awful lot of legal chal- lenges of shepherding that water which makes the transaction costs quite high.” Munévar pointed to the Colorado
River System Conservation Program where the tracking of saved water does not occur directly. Te program was launched in October 2014 with $11 million in federal and water district funds to find ways to reduce demand. Noting that the majority of Colorado
River water use occurs outside the hydrologic basin, Munévar said invest- ment in urban water savings “will certainly improve the resiliency of those water districts” though “it may not directly translate into new water into the Colorado River Basin or it may not be a one-for-one transaction.” Because of that, it is necessary to
attach value to actions that achieve ben- efits inside and outside the Basin. “We have a hard time deriving benefits across state lines,” he said. “And that doesn’t mean we need to transfer water across state lines, but we need to be able to ac- count for investments made in one area and benefits derived elsewhere.” A Basin sustainability fund could
be developed as a central repository for the “sporadic, emergency-type funding” for drought preparedness, Munévar
8 • Colorado River Project • River Report • Winter 2015-2016
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11