Experts offer solutions to our planet’s freshwater crisis.
A few years ago Circle of Blue reported the results of a global opinion poll of more than 1,200 sustainability experts. The survey concluded that water shortages will shift public perception of the value of water, prompting governments and companies to view clean water not as a commodity to exploit but as a precious resource. We are seeing that beginning to happen. The article lists the top 19 sustainability solutions for freshwater.
At THI we especially like No. 10.
10. Holistically manage ecosystems
“Simply put, holistic management applies to a practical, common-sense approach to overseeing natural resources that takes into account economic, cultural, and ecological goals. In essence, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and each facet is related to and influences the others.”
Kudos are deserved for the North Carolina legislature for recently passing legislation (which Governor Perdue signed) addressing an issue that has plagued the stream and wetland restoration efforts for years: insufficient project assessment, design and monitoring. Fifteen years ago, Trout Headwaters, Inc (THI) entered the stream restoration industry, and unfortunately, a significant amount of our work today is “re-restoring” streams and wetlands due to failed designs and approaches.
The April 17 Charlotte Observer article (North Carolina spends $140 million on faulty water projects by Dan Kane and David Raynor) aptly highlights many of the problems that plague the still-emerging aquatic restoration industry. When funding escalates for a particular restoration action, money or politics may seek to “replace” sound science. In North Carolina, DOT mitigation became a very lucrative opportunity. One clear problem with failed stream and river restoration projects has been the rampant use of a formulaic or “cookbook” approach currently being used across the United States, and certainly in North Carolina. Unfortunately, this unreliable recipe has been responsible for many spectacular and expensive failures.
As one of the old guys in this relatively new industry of stream restoration we’ve been preaching for more than a decade against simplistic cookbook approaches to complex ecological problems, and have pleaded the case for better industry standards when it comes to assessment and monitoring. We have watched the growing debate over the uncertainty associated with restoration (and especially with aggressive, formula-based approaches) now reaching a broader public consciousness.
We urge North Carolina and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take a closer look at what works, and what doesn’t in stream restoration methodologies and approaches. Peter Raabe from American Rivers, an environmental watch group, summarized recently: “Giving more work to the people who are the absolute experts in the ﬁeld is probably the direction we should be going.”
THI agrees and is supportive of this state’s efforts to steer the industry in a sustainable direction.