Video Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting
Decarbonizing the water cycle- Part I
This month marked a significant milestone in the restoration of the Klamath River, as the mainstem dams are being breached, allowing the river to continue its journey towards returning to its free-flowing state. On January 16, 2024, the JC Boyle Dam began flowing after this explosion opened its tunnels. (I had the privilege of supporting this effort during my tenure as Klamath River Project Director at The Nature Conservancy of California.) The many benefits of a newly free-flowing Klamath River include the restoration of the Klamath Basin salmon fishery, which will sustain native tribal communities and their cultures. Under-appreciated is the fact that these dams and reservoirs are a source of methane emissions, estimated from 4,000 and 14,000 metric tons of CO2e annually. This highlights the direct links between energy and water – energy is needed to deliver water, and water is often harnessed to create energy. Nowhere is that connection more direct than in hydropower.
Globally, methane (CH4) is a significant contributor to climate change, responsible for 30% of the warming observed so far. Its potency as a greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential over 80 times that of CO2 over 20 years, underscores the urgency of addressing methane emissions. Moreover, methane emissions are increasing annually, necessitating immediate mitigation.
Fortunately, methane’s increasing emissions are finally getting the attention and regulation it deserves. On January 12, the Biden Administration’s EPA released rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas through a fee on methane pollution. This marks only the first of three steps in the Methane Emissions Reduction Program for methane detection, monitoring and mitigation techniques. The Program specifically targets the oil and gas industry, the largest source of methane in the United States.
As the Klamath Dams illustrate, the water industry is responsible for significant emissions as well. Aquatic ecosystems, including dams, reservoirs and lakes, contribute up to half of global methane emissions. And, according to hydropower’s own industry association, approximately 5.2% of global methane emissions are attributed to reservoirs (hydropower and others).
As readers of this blog know, decarbonizing the water cycle is one of Echo River Capital’s three investment pillars. We are excited to deepen our commitment with a new investment into Open Hydro, the global leader in modelling, reporting, and managing emissions from reservoirs. Founders Cristina Diez and Maria Ubierna both honed their knowledge and expertise at ETH Zurich and the International Hydropower Association, where they developed the skills and networks necessary to establish Open Hydro as a global leader in accelerating reductions in emissions from aquatic ecosystems.
I’m looking forward to supporting Open Hydro’s team and continuing to invest in additional startups driving decarbonization of the water cycle.
Echo River Capital is now a certified B-Corp!
Echo River is proud to announce its certification as a Benefit Corporation by B-Lab, an independent organization that evaluates and scores companies according to hundreds of different factors.
This certification is a testament to our ongoing commitment to making a positive impact through our investments in cutting-edge water technologies. At Echo River Capital, we believe in the power of business to drive social and environmental change, and becoming a B Corp aligns perfectly with our values.
As a B Corp, we have undergone a rigorous assessment process to demonstrate our dedication to meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. In the process, Echo River also amended its by-laws to prioritize the interests of various stakeholders, reaffirming its commitment to investing 100% of its capital in impactful companies. We are proud to join a global community of companies using business as a force for good.
New team members
Echo River is excited to engage two new MBA interns from UC Davis who joined us in January, Jack Schaufler and Graham Wesolowski. They will be tasked with exploring new sectors and identifying fresh opportunities to bolster our efforts in digitizing, decentralizing and decarbonizing the water cycle. Jack will initially explore the water-energy nexus, while Graham will focus on nature-based solutions. Welcome aboard!