Craft3 helps The Freshwater Trust implement Water Quality Trading program

By: - Jan 10, 2013

$860,000 loan to Oregon non-profit restores streamside vegetation in the Rogue River basin

PORTLAND – Craft3 announced a loan to help The Freshwater Trust to develop and implement a water quality trading program for the City of Medford. This is a pioneering project to meet temperature restrictions by restoring shade-producing streamside vegetation. The project will result in nearly 30 miles of restored riparian vegetation in the Rogue River basin in southern Oregon.

Overly warm water in many of Oregon’s rivers and streams can be harmful to native fish. For this reason, temperature conditions in rivers are regulated under the Clean Water Act, and wastewater treatment facilities like Medford’s must take steps to minimize the potential impacts of the clean but warm water it discharges.

Options to address new temperature restrictions in permits are limited and include expensive mechanical cooling – essentially refrigeration.  The Freshwater Trust believes that in many cases planting trees to reduce warming caused by exposure to long stretches of sun is a better alternative that addresses the larger-scale water quality and habitat conditions facing our river systems. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality agrees and has approved restoration alternatives like the one The Freshwater Trust is implementing in Oregon.

By restoring streamside trees planted on farms and ranches, the program will help to keep water cooler throughout the year and create other water quality and habitat benefits. The amount by which a tree’s shade reduces the sun’s impact on a river or stream is measured and quantified as a credit. Credits are generated when streamside vegetation is restored. Once the credits are verified as to meeting rigorous quality standards and registered on an online registry that tracks performance and custody of the credits, they can be used by the treatment facility to meet its regulatory obligations. 

“Retooling the way we spend money on environmental compliance is essential for the future of conservation,” said Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust. “This loan, provided by Craft3 and Meyer Memorial Trust, will allow us to finance restoration projects and launch rigorous restoration programs as a powerful new tool for regulatory compliance that truly improves improve freshwater conditions.”

As part of needing to meet temperature compliance, the City of Medford’s wastewater treatment facility has opted to engage in a restoration effort using The Freshwater Trust’s water quality trading program. To help fund the front end of this large-scale restoration project, The Freshwater Trust contacted Craft3 and Meyer Memorial Trust for financial assistance. Craft3 provided a loan to cover development and implementation costs. Meyer Memorial Trust provided The Freshwater Trust with a grant for operations and a loan guarantee to Craft3.

“We are excited to support The Freshwater Trust’s efforts to minimize a negative impact of urban development,” said Brad Hunter, Craft3 business lender. “With the help of Meyer Memorial Trust, Craft3 was able to strengthen the ecological resilience of this stretch of Rogue River.”

“Recognizing the early stage needs of a market, Meyer Memorial Trust guaranteed Craft3’s loan to provide confidence and allow the demonstration of water quality trading to fix our rivers, provide local jobs and support agriculture on a meaningful scale,” said Paul Reich, program officer at Meyer Memorial Trust. 

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