The Freshwater Trust opens first office in California

February 10, 2016

The Freshwater Trust, a freshwater conservation nonprofit headquartered in Portland, Oregon, has opened its fourth office in California’s capital city of Sacramento.

In late January, the organization signed a lease on a 1,600 square foot space in the Boulevard Park area. The office is expected to hold 6 to 8 staffers in the coming years.

“It’s no secret that California has freshwater challenges,” said Kate Anderson, the organization’s first full-time staffer in the state. “We recognized the need and knew we offered unique expertise and viable solutions.”

The Freshwater Trust has expanded its footprint and impact over the last 30 years. Originally founded in 1983 as the first wild fish conservation group in the Pacific Northwest, the nonprofit now operates an array of programs to improve water quality and quantity and accelerate the pace and scale of river restoration through science and technology.

In addition to Portland and Sacramento, the nonprofit has offices in Boise, Idaho, and Ashland, Oregon.

“Like any good business, as the world has changed, we’ve changed,” said Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust. “Using new tools, such as modeling and satellite imagery, we’re able to bring conservation into the 21st century and make a bigger difference for our country’s waterways.”

In 2011, the organization stepped into the business of water quality trading. The program allows for regulated entities to meet their compliance obligations by purchasing credits generated from conservation actions.

The Freshwater Trust works with the city of Medford, Oregon, to plant trees along the banks of the Rogue River to offset the warm water discharged by the wastewater treatment plant.

The shade produced from the trees is quantified, expressed as credits, and purchased by the city to meet its temperature requirements under the Clean Water Act. It was the first regulator-approved program of its kind.

The organization’s natural infrastructure solution is millions cheaper than building of a cooling tower or storage lagoon, two ‘grey infrastructure’ solutions the city was considering to meet NPDES compliance.

Similar trading or offset programs can be crafted for nutrient compliance. The nonprofit has contracts with the City of Santa Rosa and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District to complete analyses of the range of possible nitrogen or phosphorus reductions through on-land and instream restoration actions. Both agencies are facing stringent limits for their wastewater treatment facilities, and The Freshwater Trust is assisting them in evaluating and potentially implementing watershed management or water quality trading programs.

“Just as we have in Oregon and Idaho, we’ll offer credible and innovative solutions for cities here,” said Anderson, who brings nearly a decade of experience in domestic and international natural resources conservation.

The Freshwater Trust is in the process of hiring a Business Development Director to work from the new Sacramento office. The position will interact directly with regulated entities, regulatory agency personnel, regional stakeholders, agribusinesses, agricultural producers, and conservation groups to develop conservation and river restoration programs that measure and track ecological outcomes.

“We’ve been on a growth streak due to a demand for practical watershed solutions but also due to our ability to bring together multiple stakeholders,” said Anderson. “We’re happy to be the one filling this need and look forward to building our community here in California.”


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