Can California Tap Carbon Markets To Save Its Delta (And Its Drinking Water)?Leave a Comment
The inland marshes that provide half of California’s drinking water and support its massive agriculture sector are sinking into the ground and drowning in fertilizer running off from farms. They’re also emitting massive amounts of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. Here’s how that could be the key to their salvation.
….Managed wetlands deposit dead plants on the bottom of the water, adding up to three centimeters of soil per year. They are, however, neither easy nor cheap to create, which is why local authorities started looking to carbon markets.
“State and federal funding remains insufficient to address land subsidence that threatens the California water system, and carbon market revenues could help fill the funding gap,” said Ingram… the [American Carbon Registry] ACR approved the methodology for generating carbon offsets by converting sunken farms to managed wetlands or rice plantations in the Delta. Those offsets can then be sold to people and companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints – initially through the voluntary carbon market, and perhaps through the state’s cap-and-trade program, under which power plants and oil refineries are required by law to reduce or offset their emissions.
….In 2013, a Louisiana company called Tierra Resources received approval for a wetlands methodology that it’s now using to restore degraded marshes in the bayou, inspiring the Delta Conservancy to begin pushing for the creation of a similar methodology in California. The Conservancy partnered with HydroFocus, which developed the procedure in cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley and Tierra Resources. Funding for the methodology was provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the California Coastal Conservancy, the Metropolitan Water District and California Department of Water Resources (DWR).With the help of data collected by UC Berkeley and the US Geological Survey over the last twenty years, … estimated that each acre converted to wetlands keeps about five tonnes of CO2 out of the air per year compared to those acres kept for agriculture….Now, Deverel and Ingram hope to use the methodology for a real project that will generate verified offsets. That will mean first identifying a site, then coming up with a plan, and finally bringing in third-party auditors to validate the plan and verify the results. They’re currently looking at public lands as well as some owned by non-profits, but they’ll need the participation of private landowners to really get the job done….