“Partnerships like the one between Dow, TNC and Ecolab, focused on bringing solutions to sustainably manage scarce freshwater, are the key to ensuring abundant water and healthy ecosystems.”
- Andre Argenton, chief sustainability officer, Dow
Rivers like the Mississippi are critical corridors that connect cities and natural ecosystems alike. As the climate precipitation patterns change, water levels vary widely between extreme lows and highs. Water quality is also impacted as saltwater slowly moves upriver. These have extraordinary effects on people and nature.
Recognizing the important role industry and conservation organizations play in restoring healthy, functioning ecosystems, we are working with like-minded organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Ecolab to restore and enhance wetlands in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Louisiana.
Called “Loch Leven,” this project is reconnecting flood plains to the Mississippi River by installing improved water control structures to increase water supply to 4500 acres of wetlands. Our team came in during phase 2 of the project to reconnect the internal water flow within those wetlands. This work followed phase 1, which connected the river to the wetlands. This project is part of a larger effort by The Nature Conservancy to restore over 10,000 wetland acres.
Projects like Loch Leven help provide floodwater storage and improve water quality, all pivotal components of watershed management. By holding water and slowly releasing it, the wetlands on Loch Leven remove excess fertilizer runoff from upstream, and, in turn, those nutrients help the wetlands and all that live in it, thrive.
Floodplain restoration projects such as Loch Leven also provide hydrologic stability, meaning that they slow water down, hold it and slowly release it. The Loch Leven project will help provide 12.1 billion gallons (45.8 million cubic meters) of flood storage capacity to local communities in Louisiana.
“As our climate system makes weather events more variable, extreme and uncertain, the stability that nature provides is even more important,” said Bryan Piazza, Director of Science with The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana.
The Mississippi Watershed is a water-stressed basin identified by the CEO Water Mandate’s Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) under the U.N. Global Compact. Investing in nature-based solutions like the Loch Leven project is one way to reduce nutrient runoff, restore biodiversity and enhance communities’ ability to adapt to climate change.
“The issue, however, is having the resources needed to work at the speed necessary to meet these threats in the Lower Mississippi Valley,” Piazza said. “There simply isn’t enough public grant money available to do the number of Loch Leven projects that we need in the lower river. That’s why it’s so important to figure out how to attract private investment in our work. Without it, we cannot get to the scale we need to improve water quality and habitat and remove greenhouse gases.”
As founding members of the WRC, companies like Dow and Ecolab are investing beyond their own operations and working collaboratively to enhance water stewardship management at the local watershed level.
“As the world’s natural resources come under ever-growing pressure, it becomes increasingly clear that businesses must work to find ways to help correct course and build a positive future,” said Emilio Tenuta, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Ecolab. “It is critical that businesses reach outside their facilities to work with those who share the same water resources and strive to ensure water availability, quality and access for all.”
For us at Dow, investments in projects such as Loch Leven contribute to the overall improvement of watershed health while advancing sustainable business growth. Everyone – including communities and industry - must play a role to protect our water resources.
“Water is central to our manufacturing process, and safe, accessible water is also essential to the health of the communities in which we operate, critical to ecosystems and integral to economic growth. Partnerships like the one between Dow, TNC and Ecolab, focused on bringing solutions to sustainably manage scarce freshwater, are the key to ensuring abundant water and healthy ecosystems,” said Andre Argenton, chief sustainability officer at Dow.
Carrie Houtman, EH&S and Sustainability Director