Jeff Hughes is the Director of the Environmental Finance Center.
Falls Lake Watershed
Remember the good ‘ole days when a billion dollar price tag for addressing a local environmental problem was relatively rare? Those days appear to be gone and much to the dismay of local governments, the billion-dollar threshold seems to be quite common. Addressing nutrient management in the Falls Lake Area of Central North Carolina is one of the latest entries into the billion-dollar club.
The above graphic illustrates one of the main challenges of watershed protection: jurisdictional and watershed boundaries rarely align. This issue generates questions about who is responsible for, and who should pay for, watershed protection. Over the past decade, the Environmental Finance Center at UNC has developed and applied the concept of a revenueshed to help communities answer such questions. We define a watershed protection revenueshed as the area within which revenue is generated for watershed protection. Thinking in terms of this concept can help address watershed protection challenges by (1) cultivating accountability, (2) generating discussions among local governments, and (3) developing interactive financial tools to assist in policy decision-making. In a recent report for the Conservation Trust of North Carolina, we applied the revenueshed concept to the local framework of North Carolina’s Upper Neuse River Basin.