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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

Water stress is an increasing global problem with as much as 30% of the world's population facing water shortages on a regular basis. Water stress may be exacerbated by climate change and the expanding populations in urban centers. Water scarcity can directly impact human wellbeing by decreasing access to drinking water, sanitation and food security and constraining economic growth in developing countries. Traditionally, water stress has been addressed by large and costly infrastructure projects such as dams, wells and water treatment facilities. A new innovative mechanism called water funds have been created to mobilize and scale up investment in natural capital to meet cities' growing water security needs. This SNAP Working Group will develop and demonstrate a decision-oriented rapid assessment methodology to identify the most promising cities for water funds based on science. The group will also analyze current activity with water funds to draw out key lessons learned to inform the design and implementation of future water funds in the most promising cities. They will focus on Latin America, especially Brazil and Mexico, where water funds have been deployed on an ad-hoc basis over the past two decades, with the goal of using the results of the project to scale up investment in water funds over the next 5-10 years. This project is supported by the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) initiative, generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Principal Investigator(s)

Joshua Goldstein, Elizabeth Tellman

Project Dates

Start: November 1, 2013

End: October 31, 2016



Dan Auerbach
Cornell University
Paul Bates
University of Bristol
Jeffrey Cowan
The Nature Conservancy
Rachel Dryden
McGill University
Russ Dudley
Tetra Tech, Inc.
Caitlin Feehan
Yale University
Martina Flörke
University of Kassel
Gerry Galloway
Water Resources Professional LLC
Joshua Goldstein
Stanford University
Alan Hamlet
Hope Herron
Tetra Tech, Inc.
Wesley Highfield
Texas A and M University
Jennifer Hoyle
Yale University
Kris Johnson
The Nature Conservancy
Peter Kareiva
The Nature Conservancy
Timm Kroeger
The Nature Conservancy
Guillaume Mauger
University of Washington
Robert I. McDonald
The Nature Conservancy
Rob McDonnald
The Nature Conservancy
Abel Mejia
Development Bank of Latin America (CAF)
Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm
Inter-American Development Bank
Jensen Montambault
The Nature Conservancy
Sarah Murdock
The Nature Conservancy
Paul Osman
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Paulo Petry
The Nature Conservancy
Daniel Shemie
The Nature Conservancy
Mark Smith
The Nature Conservancy
Brian Stenquist
Meeting Challenges
Eric Tate
University of Iowa
Elizabeth Tellman
Yale University
Molly Van Appledorn
US Geological Survey (USGS)
Fernando Veiga
The Nature Conservancy
Adrian Vogl
Stanford University
Margaret A. Walls
Resources for the Future
Larry Weber
University of Iowa


  1. Journal Article / 2016

    One size does not fit all: Natural infrastructure investments within the Latin American Water Funds Partnership

  2. Presentations / 2015

    Evaluation of flood mitigation strategies for the Santa Catarina watershed using a multi-model approach

  3. Presentations / 2015

    Natural infrastructure: An opportunity for water security in 25 cities in Latin America

  4. Presentations / 2015

    Natural infrastructure: An opportunity for water security in 25 cities in Latin America

  5. Presentations / 2015

    SNAP Water Security Working Group

  6. Report or White Paper / 2014

    Urban Water Blueprint: Mapping conservation solutions to the global water challenge

  7. Presentations / 2015

    Investing in source water conservation: Why and where it makes sense for cities

  8. Presentations / 2015

    Securing clean water and reducing flood risk for cities with investments in watershed services

  9. Presentations / 2015

    Watershed conservation screening tool live demonstration

  10. Data Set / 2016

    City Water Map (version 2.2)

  11. Journal Article / 2016

    Estimating watershed degradation over the last century and its impact on water-treatment costs for the world’s large cities

  12. Report or White Paper / 2016

    China urban water blueprint

  13. Presentations / 2015

    Identifying opportunities for natural infrastructure to improve urban water security in Latin America

  14. Data Set / 2016

    Floodsheds shapefile for 70 Latin America cities

  15. Data Set / 2016

    Riverine Flood Mitigation Opportunity Indicators for 70 Latin American Cities

  16. Presentations / 2015

    Decision-relevant science for water security: An iterative process for targeting and evaluating impacts of watershed investments

  17. Journal Article / 2017

    Mainstreaming investments in watershed services to enhance water security: Barriers and opportunities

  18. Journal Article / 2018

    Estimates of present and future flood risk in the conterminous United States

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