Barton H. "Buzz" Thompson: Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law and Perry L. McCarty Director, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University.
Summary: Among the most valuable of ecosystem services are those related to watersheds, including water quality and flow regulation. New York City's decision in the 1990s to invest in watershed protection in the Catskills and Delaware water basins has led many to believe or hope that markets and public policies focused on the value of these services can increase conservation of key watershed lands. A survey completed two years ago, however, showed little effort by most water suppliers in California to protect their watersheds. In some regions of the nation, water suppliers are even selling off watershed lands or managing the land in a way that might undermine water quality. This presentation will look at what efforts private and public entities are currently taking place (or not taking place) to protect these "watershed services," what the potential is (and obstacles are) to protecting watersheds through their services, and what public policies the government could pursue to promote greater protection of watershed services and thus the watersheds that provide them. This examination of watershed services will also offer insights into the opportunities provided by the broader concept of ecosystem services.