Healthy Water

We focus on projects that protect water quality and quantity both in the urban and rural/agricultural landscapes by influencing water management and water conservation practices. In addition to addressing water quality and conservation through land management, we also work with innovative technology companies, industry and research centers, with a special interest in the water-energy nexus.

Our work:

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters and Healthy Foods

In its sixth year, this symposium series led by Greenleaf with partners convenes industry, research, and policy leadership working toward an integrated, whole-systems approach to sustainable agriculture. Healthy soils yield nutritious crops while avoiding excess nutrient discharges that pollute area waterways, contributing to toxic algal blooms. For 2020, Greenleaf is working with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois on developing a workshop on sensor technology for soil health.

Sustainable Water Infrastructure

Greenleaf co-hosted a roundtable of water experts to guide the establishment of a new economic research initiative by Resources for the Future, a Washington, DC based independent institution. The deliberations on urban infrastructure needs focused on the availability of safe, affordable water, and the mitigation of flood risks through improved stormwater management. Issues of governance, fragmentation, equity, and affordability were explored. Greenleaf brings water leadership and partners to this initiative and works with those partners to frame program priorities for RFF’s investigation.

We are currently working to guide the optimization of water resources to develop a strategy for more efficient water allocation in northern Illinois, where some communities face dwindling groundwater supplies.

Securing Water Supplies through Market-based Solutions

Water supplies are threatened in many places, especially in the agricultural west. Brian Richter, Founder of Sustainable Waters and Greenleaf board member, is accessing water trading markets to serve the water needs of western agriculture, cities and conservation, informing capital investments into more efficient water management practices on agricultural lands. Brian delivered keynote addresses at both the HSHW conference (at the National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting) in 2016 and the fall 2018 Wealth Management conference at DePaul University where impact investors discussed sustainable resource investment opportunities that included water resource solutions.

Other Water Projects

  • Conservation of Ontario’s Lake Superior coast by the Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect unique land and water resources and the life they support.
  • Agricultural demonstration projects in multiple Midwestern states illustrate how best practices including gypsum application can reduce nutrient runoff into area waterways by an average of 50%.
  • Advancement of Argonne National Laboratory’s soil and water project in Illinois demonstrating how growing perennial native grasses in unproductive sections of farmland can turn profits by yielding crops for bioenergy while reducing pollutants to our waterways and atmosphere.
  • Informed health care industry leaders at CleanMed on climate change and solutions for water security with Jacobs Engineering.