White House Honors HRI, Partners for Water Initiative
The Texas Environmental Flows Initiative has been recognized by the White House for its efforts to use science and market analysis to address looming water challenges and keep Texas rivers flowing for the benefits of bays and estuaries.
The Texas Environmental Flows Initiative is a joint effort of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
President Barack Obama hosted the first-ever White House Water Summit last month to recognize World Water Day in light of water challenges facing communities and regions across the United States. These issues are impacting millions of lives and costing the nation billions of dollars. Recent events including record-breaking drought in the West, severe flooding in the Southeast and the water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan, have elevated the dialogue on the state of the nation’s water resources and infrastructure.
Environmental flows represent the flowing waters necessary to sustain a river, wetland or coastal zone and associated fish and wildlife that depend on it. These flows are increasingly threatened in Texas by climate change and the pressures of economic and residential growth.
Texas is growing faster than any other state in the nation, and the state’s population may double by mid-century. Projections indicate that many of the state’s estuaries could end up deprived of adequate freshwater on a frequent basis, particularly in drier years, if we do not take aggressive action to implement sufficient environmental flow protections.
Over the next two years, the Texas Environmental Flows Initiative will develop a water transaction market in Texas, executing at least one significant water transaction with a demonstrable benefit to resources impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Groundwork will also be laid for market development in three bay systems whose ecological health and commercial fishing productivity are endangered by declining freshwater inflows.