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Market-Driven Water Conservation – AquaShares



Innovative Solutions for Resilient Water Management

In This Episode:

[02:43] Guest James Workman is introduced.

[03:42] James talks about his book and what motivated him to travel to Africa.

[07:13] James shares why he created programming based on what he saw in Africa.

[08:50] James describes AquaShares.

[11:51] What measures are people taking to reduce their water use?

[13:37] James talks about AquaShares’ partners and the incentives for homeowners.

[16:43] How many people have signed on to participate in the program?

[19:07] James shares what success looks like for this program and for water resilience in general.

[23:05] James states where people can go to learn more about AquaShares.

Guest and Organization:

James Workman creates conservation markets for water and marine life. He wrote the award-winning Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushmen Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, and is co-author with Amanda Leland of the forthcoming Sea Change: How Fishermen Are Irreversibly Restoring Life Offshore – and On. Workman studied at Yale & Oxford, taught at Wesleyan & Whitman, but his real education came blowing up dams, releasing wolves, restoring wildfires, guiding safaris, smuggling water to dissidents, breaking down in Africa’s Kalahari Desert, and becoming a dad. An investigative journalist, he served as White House appointee to U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, later joining the World Commission on Dams under Nelson Mandela. In San Francisco, he writes for Environmental Defense Fund, edits the International Water Association’s magazine, The Source, and is founder of AquaShares Inc., the world’s first online water savings market.

Follow James Workman on Twitter

Take Away Quotes:

“A lot of problems, especially environmental problems, can be solved by regulation alone. You just say, okay, that factory over there is pouring its waste, its sewage, its pollution into the air, into the water; we’ve got to just put a cap on that, lock that. But what do you do with the 50,000 people who are all competing with each other for the same resource? And that’s the tragedy that…makes all, to me, conservation issues interesting.”

“The approach of AquaShares is to give people a sense that they’re not just renting access to as much water as they want, as cheap as they want, but they have an ownership stake, that they’re stewards of that water that they save, and that they can profit from saving water, not just feel good about it.”

“One of the biggest water users in every city is the city itself. There’s lots of water loss, in some cases, 10, 20, 30 percent, and while, for more than a decade or more, utilities have been pointing a finger at families and firms, saying, ‘You should save water, you should save water,’ utilities themselves had real no incentive to spend $100,000 to systematically find and fix their leaks, manage their water pressure, and address that, because it might only save a few thousand dollars’ worth of water.”

“It’s a crazy business model for me, but success is when we go out of business; there’s no need for AquaShares anymore because everyone is autonomous, they’re using the bare-minimum water, there’s nothing left to trade, there’s no more water that can go towards a higher-value use.”



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