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Case Study

Developing Monterey Bay’s Stormwater Digital Master Plan

Aqaix helps protect one of Earth’s most ecologically diverse marine areas

AUTHOR

Related Topics

Environmental Management

Water Quality Monitoring

California’s Monterey Bay is among the most ecologically diverse and biologically productive marine areas on Earth. Humpback whales, leatherback sea turtles, and dozens of other iconic and often endangered animals migrate thousands of miles to this unique feeding and breeding ground. Sea otters reside in kelp forests, and bizarre deep sea creatures are first discovered in the depths of the Bay’s submarine canyon.

THE CHALLENGE

Though federally protected as part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the bay receives substantial loads of fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants that affect wildlife. Much of this pollutant load comes in the form of storm water runoff from surrounding urban areas and agricultural lands.

New water infrastructure investment in the large valleys surrounding the Bay is needed to address:

  • Inflows of pesticides that can be directly toxic to marine life.
  • Inflows of legacy PCBs and DDT-related compounds from soil erosion and transport during storms. These compounds accumulate in tissues of whales and other long-lived species.
  • Water supply imbalances that cause shortages, groundwater overdraft and seawater intrusion into aquifers.
  • Groundwater contamination that eliminates supply options for rural and disadvantaged communities.

THE SOLUTION

To reduce funding timelines and transaction costs, the group that produced the Storm Water Resource Plan and designed a number of the core projects has contracted for a private marketplace on Aqaix to host their Digital Master Plan. This lists the entire portfolio and employs dynamic data integration to provide investors and donors with full context on each project, including expected non-economic ROI (e.g. nutrient reduction or sediment reduction). Investors and donors can evaluate each project as to its expected returns, and can create conditional financing structures tied to actual ROI outcomes.

THE RESULTS

A set of 17 storm water management projects have been evaluated for their ability to address the above concerns. These have been documented in a state-sponsored Storm Water Resource Plan that analyses cumulative benefits of combinations of specific projects. The projects are proposed by water agencies, land trusts, non-profits, cities, and counties. The combined total funding required to implement this core set of projects is approximately $150 million.

Each project features context-specific data dashboards, a data room for managing project and funding transaction documents, and other features.

The site has integrated a large water quality data set and analytical tools from the Central Coast Ambient Monitoring Program (CCAMP) among other sources, providing a rich data set for monitoring current and future surface water quality attributes and measuring the success of implemented projects.

Deployed sensors allow monitoring and model calibration for various environmental factors in the watershed.
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