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Healthy Headwaters Program
The headwaters landscapes that provide most of the West’s water for cities, farms, businesses and ecosystems are fundamentally threatened by climate change. Downstream communities are concerned about their water security. These factors provide an opportunity to build the next generation of ecological protection and restoration.
Carpe Diem West’s Healthy Headwaters Program is an alliance of upstream
land managers, downstream water utilities, scientists, economists, and conservation advocates whose goal is to increase the climate resiliency of the headwaters systems that provide water for the West.
The Healthy Headwaters Alliance Policy Platform
In May 2012, the Helathy Headwaters Ladership Team came together produced an extraordinary accomplishment and came together around a Policy Platform for protecting headwaters regions.
The source of most of the American West’s water lies in high-elevation watersheds. Much of this supply is on public land, specifically belonging to the US Forest Service and other federal agencies; but private landholdings play a major role as well. Climate change is threatening these vital headwaters by:
- increasing the risk of wildfire and invasive species
- decreasing snowpack levels
- altering the timing of runoff
- changing vegetation patterns on a landscape scale
Downstream water utilities are becoming increasingly concerned about the ability of the West’s watersheds to continue providing reliable supplies of clean water. Even as these new threats are emerging, important changes are occurring at the federal level. Land management agencies are placing a renewed emphasis on their mission of providing water supplies for downstream use. At the same time, their ability to manage headwaters is coming under increasing strain from tightening budgets.
Together, these factors — climate stress, shifting agency priorities, and the need for new funding sources — create the opportunity to forge new partnerships in support of headwaters protection. Carpe Diem West’s Healthy Headwaters Program is built around a strong, non-traditional alliance of water utilities, agency officials, conservationists, and others who are creating on-the-ground examples of successful headwaters restoration. The goal of this Healthy Headwaters Alliance is to replicate these successful models in communities and watersheds across the American West.
"We are developing a new understanding of where water comes from - not from the streams, but from the forest.”
Ron Lehr President, Denver Water Board (1993-1999)
"What we really like about working with Carpe Diem West, is that for us to be successful, we need other utilities in the region to be successful. We're all learning from each other."
Karl Morgenstern Eugene Water & Electric Board
"Carpe Diem West is a natural partner for the Forest Service to work with as we figure out how to implement the Watershed Condition Framework. The whole connection with downstream users is a critical piece."
Anne Zimmermann U.S. Forest Service
"Leadership Convening Summary: Healthy Headwaters," Carpe Diem West, Denver, March 2011
"User Contribution Programs: Linking Upstream Watershed Health to the Hearts, Minds & Wallets of Downstream Water Users", Carpe Diem West, October 2010
Latest webinar recording posted!
Effective Messaging: Communicating Nature's Benefits
Carpe Diem West releases report New Visions, Smart Choices - Western Water Security in a Changing Climate
Healthy Headwaters Alliance rolls out inaugural Policy Platform
Latest Academy webinar recording archived- Watershed Valuation: A Closer Look
Healthy Headwaters 6th Leadership Convening in Portland a resounding success
Academy Webinar Series: November 14
Robust Decision Making
Academy Webinar Series: September 20th
Vulnerability Assessment - Take Two
View the Archive
We've moved! Please update your records with our new address
Carpe Diem West's new Director of Programs starts July 9th!
Meet Cynthia Koehler
Academy Webinar Series: June 21st
Watershed Valuation - From Australia to the American West
View the Archive
Healthy Headwaters Alliance rolled out April 2012, releases charter Policy Platform
Carpe Diem West Academy launches its newsletter!
Academy Webinar Series: March 21st
Getting Through the Bottleneck: Assessing Vulnerability
View the archive
Leadership Convening Summary: Healthy Headwaters
Carpe Diem West’s fourth Healthy Headwaters convening, an invited leadership group from water utilities, conservation NGOs, government, and the scientific community addressed emerging issues arising in their work to create resilient watersheds and water security in the American West in a time of climate change – in Oakland on October 28, 2011. Read More
NEW Report: Governing Like A River Basin: Options for Expanded Stakeholder Engagement in the Colorado River Basin examines examples of successful stakeholder engagement processes and how they may be used in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Basin Study to build long-term solutions for the Colorado River. Read More
NEW Report: Read Carpe Diem West's report, Watershed Investment Programs in the American West. An Updated Look: Linking Upstream Watershed Health & Downstream Security, which provides information on what communities are doing to protect their headwaters. Read the report
Charting the Rapids Ahead
In partnership with the Center for Public Health & Climate Change, Carpe Diem West conducted an overview analysis to assess the intersection of western water, climate change and public health.
Read the report
Webinar on the U.S. Forest Service's Watershed Condition Framework (WCF)
Hosted by Carpe Diem West –
U.S. Forest Service's Anne Zimmermann, Director of Watersheds, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants talks about the WCF and how is it guiding on-the-ground restoration.
View the archive
Carpe Diem West Academy Website Phase II
Thanks to the generous funding of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, we're off and running on Phase II of the Carpe Diem West Academy. Launching in December 2011, Phase II will be even more dynamic, offering webinars, discussion forums, feedback mechanisms, user profiles, and new tools and best practices. Read More
Healthy Headwaters Meeting Summary
Carpe Diem West's Healthy Headwaters Working Group held its third face-to-face meeting - along with an invited group of western water leaders – in Denver on March 25, 2011. Read More
'Thinking Like a River Basin' Report
Carpe Diem West's report, Thinking Like a River Basin: Leaders' Perspectives on Options and Opportunities in Colorado River Management, paints a portrait of a river basin – and a leadership community – at a crossroads. Read More
Denver Post Colorado River Op-Ed
On February 25, the Denver Post ran an insightful op-ed by Carpe Diem West leader Doug Kenney of the Colorado River Governance Initiative at the University of Colorado in Boulder, about the long-term future of dwindling Colorado River supplies in the face of climate change – and what people are doing about it.
New CRS Report on Energy's Water Demands
In January 2011, lead author Nicole Carter and her colleagues at the Congressional Research Service submitted their new report, Energy's Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management, to Congress. It provides an excellent overview analysis of the water footprint of energy in the United States. Read More