The EFC is providing project assistance to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, one
of the three partners selected by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the Natural Resources Conservation Service
to participate in the national "Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative" under award number
This $6 million dollar initiative seeks to advance the connection between
forest management and water quality and quantity. The EFC is assisting the Conservation Trust for North Carolina in its work on the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative,
which seeks to protect lands critical to the long-term health of drinking water supplies in the basin, from groundwater to streams to reservoirs.
The Upper Neuse River Basin (UNRB) serves 500,000 people and drains into Falls Lake,
the City of Raleigh's drinking water supply. The region is experiencing rapid population growth with
a prediction that the number of people receiving drinking water from the UNRB is expected to double
between 2002 and 2030. However, Falls Lake was added to the 303d list in 2008. In response, state
and local agencies are participating in a stakeholder process to inform the development of the Falls
Lake Nutrient Management Strategy.
The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (UNCWI) is working towards forest conservation
and water quality protection. Currently, 60% of the Basin is forested and is of increasing importance
in the development of the Nutrient Management Strategy for Falls Lake. Even in the current economic
downturn, the region continues to experience development pressure and forests are vulnerable as
landowners are anxious to liquidate their assets. The opportunity exists to target conservation
of the most critical forested areas through sustainable forestry management and conservation easements -
thereby providing landowners with a source of income while attending to the critical issue of water quality protection.
The second goal of UNCWI is to establish funding streams from water resource programs
within the local municipalities. The UNCWI currently receives part of its funding from the City of Raleigh
Public Utilities Department's impact fees. The City Council has recognized the direct relationship between
protecting the water resource and providing clean water to its constituents downstream. The City has
invested funding in more targeted land acquisition efforts outside of its jurisdiction than within.
The EFC is working with UNCWI to build a funding model for the entire UNRB,
including Raleigh. The first step is to develop a financial assessment or "revenue-shed"
for the entire basin, as well as each county, outlining current revenue sources and investments.
Using the results of the Basin and county financial assessments, the EFC and Land Trusts would
design county-specific options for conservation funding - focusing on public utilities, stormwater
funding and other related revenue sources. In addition, the EFC is partnering with land trusts in
the development and presentation of an outreach program to local governments, while concurrently
building support with agency staff, elected officials and locals groups to support funding allocations
to priority working forests.
Upper Neuse River Basin Watershed Protection Revenueshed Analysis
Read the Executive Summary
Authors: Jeff Hughes, Jon Breece, and Lauren Patterson
Date: August 2012
The project's final report on how local governments in the Upper Neuse River Basin can cooperatively generate a sustainable revenue stream to implement watershed protection strategies.
A Question of Boundaries: The Importance of "Revenuesheds" for Watershed Protection (off-site link)
Author: Lauren Patterson, Jeff Hughs, Jon Breece, and Stacey Berahzer
Publication: Peer-reviewed Article in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol 8, Issue 4, Pages 838-848
Date: August 2012
The focus of this article is to contribute to the financing component of watershed governance. We developed an approach to objectively investigate financing mechanisms and engage local governments into discussions about how they can generate revenue collaboratively to address problems that extend beyond their territory. With respect to watershed protection, the “revenueshed” approach takes into consideration those local governments that directly impact the watershed (upstream land users), as well as those that benefit from the watershed (water users outside the watershed). Water quality rules and regulations place water quality improvement responsibilities on local governments inside the watershed. The revenueshed approach extends the financial and stewardship discussion to include local governments that directly benefit from the watershed, even if they are located outside of the watershed.
Communicating Revenuesheds: A User Guide (pdf)
Contributors: Jeff Hughes, Glenn Barnes, Mary Tiger, Christine Boyle, Lauren Patterson, Jordan McMillen, and Jon Breece
Date: August 2012
The Revenueshed User Guide is a tool for educators, civic leaders, land trusts, and other stakeholders in watershed protection to introduce the revenueshed concept to their communities. This document is an overview of the concepts and content presented in the Curriculum Package. Included in the footnotes of each page is the file name(s) of the following presentations from which the slides displayed were taken:
The Cost of Conservation: Property Tax Revenues and Land Protection (pdf)
Author: Jon Breece
Publication: UNC Master of Public Administration Capstone Project
Date: March 2011
Private land trusts, conservation groups, and all levels of government are increasingly using conservation easements to protect ecologically-important lands from development. A Healthy Watersheds through Healthy Forests Initiative-funded report in North Carolina identified parcels in the Upper Neuse River Basin that, if protected, would provide significant benefit to the drinking water supply of local communities. Utilizing these findings, this study modeled the impact on the tax rolls of Orange and Durham Counties in North Carolina if the parcels identified as "high-priority" in each county were encumbered with conservation easements or secured through fee simple acquisition. This study found that placing conservation easements on identified "high priority" lands has a minimal impact on the value of protected properties and county revenues.
Revenuesheds: The Impact on Water Rates from Financing Watershed Protection
Duke & UNC Watershed Protection Financing Research at Triangle J Council of Governments
June 8, 2012, Research Triangle Park, NC
The public was invited to hear presentations and discuss innovations in financing drinking water protection from Duke & UNC researchers and students. EFC Director Jeff Hughes presented on the revenueshed concept and other watershed protection financing options.
Proactive vs. Reactive: What's the Cost/Benefit of Nutrient Management?
The North Carolina Forum on Nutrient Over-Enrichment
May 30, 2012, Durham, NC
Jeff Hughes joined a panel of speakers discussing the economics of nutrient management, bringing his expertise to bear on the question of how local governments can afford it. Hughes spoke specifically to the cost-effectiveness of proactive versus reactive nutrient management.
Revenuesheds: An Essential Tool to Understanding How to Finance Watershed Protection (pdf)
SC Rural Water Association Annual Conference
August 10, 2011, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Christine Boyle presented in a panel on ways to cross jurisdictional boundaries to implement watershed plans and how to tap into local government revenue to protect watersheds. This presentation described a new concept by the EFC: "revenuesheds".
The Revenueshed - Watershed Challenge
New Partners for Smart Growth, 10th Annual Conference
February 4, 2011, Charlotte, NC
Jeff Hughes presented on ways to tap into local government revenue to implement watershed plans. The session included a geospatial analysis of the Falls Lake, NC watershed and revenueshed and highlighted the disconnect between revenue boundaries and watershed boundaries.
Poster on Sustainable Financial Planning for Watershed Management (pdf)
International Symposium on Water and Health: Where Science Meets Policy
UNC Water Institute and the Institute for the Environment
October 25, 2010, Chapel Hill, NC
Christine Boyle and Lauren Patterson presented a poster on problems inherent in the disconnect
between watershed lines and political boundaries. The poster described an EFC-created tool
that allows local communities and utilities consider options for generating local funds to
create a sustainable source of funding for watershed protection, instead of depending on
For more information, please contact Jeff Hughes.