Coinciding with World Water Day, a coalition of industry, nonprofit, and governmental organizations have come together to launch a new group dedicated to improving water in Texas.
The new Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC) will focus on the Trinity River, a body of water that around 7.5 million people in Dallas-Fort Worth depend on. Its use extends across domestic, industrial, and agricultural sectors—but historically, the urban stretch of the Trinity River that runs through DFW has been inaccessible due to pollutants like runoff, illegal dumping, and litter.
That has caused a rippling effect.
The Trinity River Basin flows 715 river miles, draining 18,000 square miles before emptying into Trinity Bay near Anahuac in Southeast Texas. Downstream, a population of around 6 million, including the city of Houston, depend on the Trinity as a water source. What’s happening up north directly impacts them: And that’s where the new collaborative aims to come in.
“Texas’ population of 29 million people is expected to double by 2050, putting pressure on the state’s land, water, wildlife, and infrastructure,” Joni Carswell, CEO of Texan by Nature, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, innovative and collaborative partnerships between industry and conservation organizations are critical to conserve, restore, and maintain Texas’ diverse and bountiful natural resources as well as economic leadership.”
TxWAC hopes its efforts will be a “win-win for conservation and business.” Though the water quality conditions of the river have improved, stakeholders know there is still work to be done to ensure a clean and healthy future for generations to come. It intends to serve as a catalyst for impactful conservation efforts throughout the region.
The group will invest in the Upper Trinity River to yield positive return for water volume and quality. Currently, involved organizations are developing best practices, metrics, proposals, and investment matching methodology to create a model that could be used along the entirety of the Trinity River.
Eventually, the hope is to extend action to river systems across the state.
Leading conservation organizations have already joined in TxWAC, including Texan by Nature, Trinity River Authority, Tarrant Regional Water District, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
There’s also a number of corporate partners involved: Molson Coors Beverage Company, Coca-Cola North America, Frito-Lay North America and PepsiCo, and Keurig Dr Pepper.
Interested parties are currently being surveyed for participation. Texan by Nature, a conservation nonprofit founded by former First Lady Laura Bush, will collaborate with additional corporate partners, conservation organizations, and local communities on project proposals and the matching process for partners.
It’s not a new feat for Texan by Nature, though: The organization already works with the Trinity Coalition to raise awareness and educate the public on the importance of the Trinity River and its ecosystems. Trinity Coalition joins forces with local municipalities to increase river access along its contiguous 130-mile paddling trail.
“The future of conservation is dependent on deep, results oriented collaboration between industry, community, conservation organizations, and landowners,” Carswell said. “TxWAC will epitomize this level of collaboration and increase awareness, funding, and activity in Texas water conservation.”
Numerous corporate partners plan to use existing programs to contribute to TxWAC.
“The Brazos-Trinity basin is home to several of PepsiCo’s food and beverage manufacturing sites, which rely on the basin’s critical water supply,” David Allen, VP of Sustainability at PepsiCo Foods North America, said in a statement. “We remain invested in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other regions across Texas to provide future water security, and this group will allow us to share best practices among our peers to help meet our shared goals for water sustainability.”
Molson Coors Beverage Company and its previous projects with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be used as a template for corporate funding opportunities, and to develop proposals for conservation organizations that need development assistance and funding in the Upper Trinity River region.
The multinational drink and brewing company has actually been involved in restoring the Trinity River Basin for the past decade. As Kim Marotta, senior director of global sustainability for Molson Coors, puts it: “Clean water is a critical element to human health, a balanced environment, and, as it turns out, great tasting beer.”
“Since 2012, Molson Coors, Tarrant Regional Water District, and the NRCS have been able to provide close to $9 million in collective funding assistance to Texas farmers and ranchers to improve the water supply for more than 45 percent of state users,” she said. “Through collective partnership, we have restored an estimated eight billion gallons of water to the watershed, and we look forward to scaling our impact by working with more organizations through this collaborative.”
Coca-Cola has teamed up with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Business for Water Stewardship Program to bring many private-sector funders to the TxWAC table. The beverage corporation is also looking to bring other companies in the pipeline to the coalition.
“To balance the water contained in our beverages, we support more than 60 replenishment projects in watersheds and communities throughout the U.S.,” Jon Radtke, water sustainability program manager at Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. “As part of our 2030 Water Strategy, we are prioritizing action in the areas with the highest risks and vulnerability to our shared water resources, such as the Upper Trinity River Basin. This collaborative will allow us to leverage collective expertise and support to achieve greater results at scale while securing a sustainable water future for the region.”
The entire list of founding companies and organizations for TxWAC includes:
- Molson Coors Beverage Company
- Frito-Lay North America and PepsiCo Beverages North America
- Coca-Cola North America and Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages
- Keurig Dr Pepper
- Bonneville Environmental Foundation
- Natural Resources Conservation Service – Texas
- Tarrant Regional Water District
- Trinity River Authority
- Texan by Nature
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