(PHOENIX)—Environmental Defense Fund, Business for Water Stewardship and the National Audubon Society today announced that corporations and foundations have committed the funding to close an $8 million funding gap required to complete a landmark water conservation project with the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) and the state of Arizona.
The announcement marks the completion of one of the largest multi-sector collaborative drought response efforts ever achieved. To date, a combination of Arizona state, philanthropic, and corporate funding has provided over $38 million to secure 150,000 acre-feet of conservation (nearly 49 billion gallons of water) to help shore up Lake Mead through the CRIT system conservation project.
Funding was provided by leading corporations spanning many sectors. Companies and brands include: Intel Corp.; Google; Microsoft; Procter & Gamble; Reformation; Keurig Dr Pepper; Ecolab; Cascade; Cox; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Silk; Target; Brochu Walker; and Swire Coca-Cola, USA. The corporate funding is joined by private philanthropic funds, led by the Walton Family Foundation and Water Funder Initiative, with additional contributions from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation.
“How we use, manage, and value water will dictate our future,” said Todd Reeve, CEO of Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Co-Founder of Business for Water Stewardship. “Today is a major milestone made possible by collective impact. We’re redefining how businesses work collaboratively with tribes, community and policy stakeholders, philanthropy, and nonprofit partners to advance solutions that ensure that the people, economies, and ecosystems along the Colorado River have enough clean water to flourish.”
The funding directly supports the CRIT and their comprehensive system conservation project developed as part of the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) negotiations that included Arizona and six other states that rely on water supply from the Colorado River. The project will help shore up declining water levels in Lake Mead, which has fallen to 36% of capacity, the lowest levels since it was filled in 1935, and help delay and reduce future water shortages that would impact Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico. As a result of dry conditions, Arizona is expected to have to reduce its take of water from Lake Mead by 512,000 acre-feet (nearly 167 billion gallons) in 2022.
“The importance of the DCP cannot be overstated as drought conditions persist,” said Amelia Flores, Chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. “CRIT is proud to play a key role in mitigating water shortfalls facing Arizona. We are able to do so by careful conservation that benefits Arizona while protecting our water rights. The partnerships and alliances that have been forged across all levels of government as well as corporate and non-profit entities demonstrate the level of commitment needed to solve this crisis.”
“Through our water positive commitment, Microsoft is focused on improving water conditions for people, nature, and society in water-stressed locations around the world,” said Paul Fleming, Microsoft Global Water Program Manager. “We’ve supported the CRIT project because of its tangible benefits to the community and because it has helped to coalesce and scale the activities of individual entities into a collective action framework. By aligning state government, tribal government, the non-profit and philanthropic communities, and the private sector, the CRIT project provides an example of how we can work together to steward a resource that sustains us all.”
“P&G is continually looking for innovative solutions to protect water for people and nature. We recognize millions of people, hundreds of species and thousands of miles of land rely on theColorado River to thrive each day,” said Shannon Quinn, P&G Global Water Stewardship Leader. ”Being a part of the CRIT project gives P&G the opportunity to collaborate with partners that make a positive impact and build a more resilient future for the states and Tribal Nations that rely on this precious resource.”
“The stakes couldn’t have been higher for this work, but together with the Colorado River Indian Tribes, philanthropic and private sector support, we were able to find solutions that work for nature and people together,” said Ted Kowalski, Director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River Initiative. “This needs to be the way of the future. There is obviously still a tremendous amount of work to be done across the Colorado River Basin, and no one sector or group meets this challenge on their own. The only way to meet the challenges of climate change and water is through collaboration.
Joey Kahn, firstname.lastname@example.org