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  • Writer's picturePeter Yolles

Echo River Capital Update – MARCH 2024

Updated: Apr 9

March signals transition with the spring equinox, as the sun shifts from the southern to the northern hemisphere, marking the end of winter and the onset of spring. Brisk mornings gradually give way to warm afternoons. Not coincidentally, March 22nd marks the World Water Day, drawing global attention to the vital significance of this resource, while highlighting the focus of the United Nations on water-related issues. March also heralds the commencement of the spring conference season. I participated in two gatherings, each uniquely centered on sustainability from varying perspectives.


At the Sustainable Water Investment Summit in early March, water and finance professionals gathered on a scenic ocean bluff overlooking the glorious Pacific Ocean in southern California. Among them were old friends and colleagues including Clay Landry and Harry Seely of Westwater Research, who co-hosted the conference alongside law firm Brownstein Hyatt. The event, predominantly attended by capitalists, featured panels focused on projects and technologies aimed at enhancing supply reliability while generating returns for water and land asset owners. Numerous private equity firms as well as early-stage technology investors like Echo River Capital, Burnt Island Ventures and XPV Capital participated, signaling the growing mainstream interest in water investing.

During my presentation on Echo River Capital’s investments in nature-based solutions including Open Hydro, CREW Carbon and Gybe, I emphasized the crucial role of water management in mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s noteworthy that 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from aquatic ecosystems. I also highlighted portfolio company, AgMonitor, as a valuable tool for institutional agriculture landowners to monitor, manage, and report on energy use and emissions across tens or hundreds of thousands of acres.

The overarching takeaway of the conference was clear: capital allocators recognize the escalating water risk and acknowledge the need for additional funds to support food production and drinking water supplies.

These observations were reinforced by a recent report titled “Investing in a Water Secure Future,” jointly published by Global Water Intelligence and XPV Capital. The report projects a significant increase in global capital deployed for water security, with the figure set to surge from $3.8 trillion in 2024 to over $12 trillion by 2034, as the atmosphere breaches the critical 1.5C threshold.

As a steward of impact capital, Echo River is strategically positioned to support the technologies essential for ensuring clean, reliable, and affordable water, while  reducing harmful emissions from the water cycle. While the conference attendees deliberated on where to deploy assets to meet the burgeoning needs of the water sector, a different group, the Bioneers, was gearing up for a different, more heart-centered approach to tackling similar problems.


Bioneers celebrated their 35th annual conference in Berkeley, California highlighting the critical role of social movements to address the ecological crisis, including water’s role. Over 100 indigenous tribes were represented among the 2,000+ attendees, a critical pillar in understanding the current state of the ecological crisis. The conversation focused on how both traditional ecological knowledge and new scientific discoveries play a role in society’s understanding of just how tenuous the human enterprise is on Earth.

During keynote addresses by esteemed indigenous elders such as Oren Lyons (Onondaga), Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca), and Samuel Genshaw III (Yurok)) attendees were reminded of humanity's precarious position on Earth, likened to "fleas on a dog" subject to the whims of Mother Nature. These elders emphasized that indigenous communities have long recognized the destructive tendencies of the dominant culture of European democratic-capitalism driven by extraction and greed that was imported from war-torn Europe from the 1300s to 1900s. They shared ancestral wisdom, foreseeing a future where communities like the ones represented at the event would be essential guides in reestablishing a harmonious relationship with nature as climate-driven "purification" unfolds.

The conference also featured presentations advocating for new paradigms of relating to the Earth, such as the Slow Water Movement, championed by Erica Gies. Genshaw eloquently discussed the ongoing dam removal efforts along the Klamath River, citing it as a model for freeing rivers worldwide. Dams, he explained, not only disrupt water supplies but also harm biodiversity and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

The traditional ecological knowledge shared by these wise elders holds immense potential to inform modern projects and technologies, enhancing community resilience and fostering a more harmonious coexistence with water and nature. Echo River Capital's mission aligns with this ethos, striving to integrate such wisdom into contemporary initiatives, ultimately working towards a future where communities thrive in water harmony with nature.

These two conferences reflect the parallel efforts of progress towards sustainable water management – harnessing capital to develop nature-base solutions; and social movements powered by traditional ecological knowledge to unite in stewardship of our most precious source of life – water.


What I’m listening to:

“We Are Water” meditation. In honor of this year’s World Water Day, we can all take a moment to find new ways to appreciate water. As native peoples remind us, water holds memory. Water is spiritual. Water is our relative. By listening to this just released 30-minute meditation on Insight Timer, get ready to embark on an interior journey to a new understanding of water’s role in our personal lives. "We Are Water" is a meditation journey in which we experience ourselves as a water being in a new embodied way. Helena Petersen, Jeremy Boxer, and Water Group 6 of the Le Ciel Foundation co-created this remarkable experience opening new pathways for people to feel connected to life’s fundamental element.


New Investment:

Open Hydro is a leader in modelling, reporting, and tracking emissions from reservoirs. Echo River participated in this $600,000 investment round to propel its efforts in decarbonizing freshwater systems. This funding round was led by Sustainable Ventures, a key player in climate tech investments. Find the press release here.


Portfolio News:

Imagine H2O released their latest cohort that includes two Echo River portfolio companies: Open Hydro and CREW Carbon Congratulations to both teams, and kudos to Imagine H2O for acknowledging the brilliance of these companies and their capacity to mitigate emissions from aquatic ecosystems and wastewater, respectively. Open Hydro has set its sights on preventing the emissions of over 1 gigaton of CO2e.


AgMonitor released its 2023 impact report showing reductions in over 1,200 metric tons of CO2.




Reath is hiring a UK-based sales leader. Pass it on!

Hohonu is raising Series A. If you’re interested in participating, schedule a meeting with Brian and Kevin here.


What I’m reading



(New York Times)



What I’m Watching

Watching Dune 2 on IMAX was an unparalleled cinematic experience, fulfilling my curiosity about the next chapter in the struggle of desert dwellers on Arrakis against those aiming to exploit "spice." While some interpret the story as an allegory of western exploitation of oil in the Middle East, I prefer to view Dune as an exploration of how communities adapt and flourish in an era of water scarcity - from the utilization of evaporator suits to the ritualistic recapturing of water during burial processes.


3 Body Problem is a new series on Netflix by the same creators of Game of Thrones. In a weirdly similar imagining to the Dune dehydration process, virtual lives can be preserved and re-animated through desiccation and re-hydration. 



What’s Happening in April:


Elemental Interactive in San Francisco:  Several portfolio companies will be in town, including Emily from Reath and Mansi from Digital Paani.


Imagine H2O is hosting its Startup Summit welcoming the next batch of 10 startups in this year’s cohort including Open Hydro and CREW Carbon.


Global Water Intelligence is hosting its Global Water Summit 2024 in London April 15-17.

San Francisco Climate Week is featuring our portco Waterplan.


Peter Yolles

General Partner


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