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Water Restoration Certificates—U.S.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Did you know that the average American’s embedded water footprint is 2,000 gallons per day? Most of this footprint is embedded in the electricity we use, the products we buy, and the food and beverages we consume.

In response to the rise of global water scarcity, more and more individuals are seeking ways to minimize their personal water footprint through conservation and lifestyle choices. BEF’s Water Restoration Certificates® (WRCs) offer the first-of-its-kind tool to go a step further—and actually restore your unavoidable water footprint, gallon-for-gallon, to critically dewatered rivers and streams.

Each WRC represents 1,000 gallons of water restored in stream on your behalf and directly contributes to restoring the economic, recreational and ecological vitality of critical freshwater ecosystems. All WRC projects are certified by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's strict set of criteria to ensure flow is restored to the environment in locations and at a time that will have optimum environmental benefit.

where we get it

This product contains a blend of WRCs from our diverse portfolio of flow restoration projects.

View project portfolio ::

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collectively, BEF and its partners have restored over 10 billion gallons of water to critically dewatered rivers and streams in throughout the nation through the purchase of Water Restoration Certificates®... that's the equivalent water in 2 billion standard five gallon water containers.

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how WRCs work…

WRCs are a voluntary, market-based program that provides farmers, ranchers and water users an economic incentive to devise new water management solutions that restore water to critically dewatered ecosystems. Each WRC represents 1,000 gallons of water restored in stream on your behalf and directly contributes to restoring the recreational and ecological vitality of critical freshwater ecosystems.

1 WRC = 1,000 gallons of water restored

VERIFICATION—The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a widely recognized leader in freshwater restoration for the past 12 years, reviews all WRC flow restoration projects to ensure optimum environmental benefit.

PROOF OF PURCHASE—BEF provides you with a proof of purchase certificate by email to ensure that only you own the environmental attributes associated with the specific quantity of restored flow made possible by your purchase and to confirm the project supply from which your WRC was generated.

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types of WRC projects

BEF partners with many organizations to channel funding from the sale of Water Restoration Certificates® to a range of projects that actually enhance or restore flows and water to benefit critically dewatered sections of rivers, streams and wetlands. There are several project types that are used to achieve flow restoration goals.

The project types described below represent the diversity of projects that could make up BEF's WRC portfolio. They are provided as information only to help inform our customers about where and how WRCs are generated. View our current project portfolio online now ::

WATER CONSERVATION—Opportunities to conserve water used for agriculture in the U.S. abound, however funding to support water conservation is lacking. BEF's Water Restoration Certificate® program funds projects that invest in new irrigation infrastructure to allow irrigators to conserve and divert less water from dewatered rivers, streams and aquifers. By funding irrigation system upgrades BEF supports projects that leave significant “saved water” in the river to benefit fish, wildlife and water quality. While projects of this type do not create “new water” they play a central role in enhancing flows in critically dewatered streams.

WATER MANAGEMENT—Each year, outdated irrigation systems in the U.S. can leak up to 80% of the water they attempt to transfer to thirsty crops. Addressing this challenge with modernized systems is just one of the innovative solutions that funding from the BEF Water Restoration Certificate® program supports. As a result, irrigators divert less water from rivers, thus restoring water to dewatered sections of vital streams and rivers.

WATER LEASING AND FORBEARANCE AGREEMENTS—In many circumstances, water rights holders may not need or use all of the water that they have a right to use. Through “leasing” agreements, water rights holders can designate some of their water to be used for “environmental benefit”—meaning that these water rights holders choose to leave some portion of their water in dewatered rivers and streams to enhance flows and improve environmental conditions. Under the right circumstances, many states in the West allow this “leased” water to be legally protected against other downstream water use. The BEF Water Restoration Certificate® program provides funding to local organizations to pay for the costs associated with implementing water leasing and forbearance agreements.

PERMANENT TRANSFERS—In many states, water rights can be permanently transferred from one use to another. In some cases, water rights can be transferred to serve high-value environmental needs from low-value economic uses. Funding for these transfers can provide permanent environmental benefit by restoring flows of water to critical wetland areas or chronically dewatered stream reaches to benefit endangered fish and wildlife and enhance recreational values.

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how to shrink your water footprint

YOUR PLEDGE TO CONSERVE = 1,000 GALLONS RESTORED—Through Change the Course campaign (led by BEF, National Geographic and Participant Media) your simple pledge to conserve will restore 1,000 gallons to critically dewatered reaches of the Colorado River Basin, one of the most endangered rivers in the U.S. LEARN MORE OR MAKE THE PLEDGE NOW ::

SANDRA POSTEL'S 10 TIPS TO CONSERVE WATER—Read tips from National Geographic Freshwater Fellow and co-founded of the Change the Course campaign, Sandra Postel. GO TO NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ARTICLE NOW ::