TxWAC – Past, Present, and Future by Taylor Keys

What started as a group of cross-industry stakeholders identifying a need for corporate funding for water conservation projects has resulted in more than $3.3 M in funding for on-the-ground conservation efforts to date. 

How did we get here?

ACTION – specifically, the Texas Water Action Collaborative (TxWAC). 

At the end of 2020, our Dallas-Fort Worth partners asked Texan by Nature to join a small group of stakeholders and think about what a collaborative water effort might look like. Due to our unique mission of advancing conservation through connecting conservation and business, they hoped we could develop a new model for water conservation in Texas After research and discussion, we proposed a model matching on the ground conservation efforts to corporate goals with Texan by Nature acting as developer and facilitator of the Collaborative.

Texan by Nature piloted TxWAC in March of 2021 in the Upper Trinity River Basin, with the support of a planning team comprised of leaders from Bonneville Environmental Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, LimnoTech, Molson Coors, North Texas Municipal Water District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tarrant Regional Water District, Texas A&M AgriLife & Texas Water Resources Institute, Trinity River Authority, and Texas Water Foundation.

Through all of our programs, we act as an honest broker and trusted hub to bring partners together to advance conservation activity and action. We build upon the already impressive efforts that make Texas a leader in natural resource conservation – connecting the brightest minds and projects with the strongest resources and funding to make the biggest impact for Texans, our economy, and our natural world.

TxWAC embodies these efforts – we cultivate water conservation projects from our  Conservation Partner Network of 145+ organizations to create a portfolio of funding opportunities that allow businesses to identify which projects align with their sustainability and water stewardship goals. This helps corporate partners reach their goals while increasing funding and activity towards Texas water conservation.

Texan by Nature expanded TxWAC to the lower Trinity River with support from Hess Corporation in March of 2022. The 18-month pilot resulted in over $2 million in funding for local conservation projects benefiting water quality and quantity. Based on the success of the Trinity River pilot, TxWAC expanded to the entire state of Texas in early 2023. To date, over $3.3 million in funding has resulted from the customized project-matching services provided through TxWAC. 

Most recently, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Silk (a Danone North America brand), Google, Meta, and Microsoft came together to collaboratively invest $972,000 to restore 2,000 acres of longleaf pine forest on private lands in Trinity County, Texas. Coordinated by the Texas Longleaf Team, with support from Texan by Nature, the restoration will entail managing and removing invasive plants, conducting prescribed fire, and planting approximately 100,000 Longleaf Pine seedlings over the course of five to ten years to create a healthy Longleaf Pine ecosystem that will filter and store freshwater, sequester carbon, support biodiversity, and benefit the community. Read the full press release

Why we need project matching collaboratives

Through our facilitation of TxWAC, we continue to see barriers between conservation and business. On the conservation side, key environmental and social benefits of projects are often not measured or monitored. This lack of data can make it difficult for funders to make the business case for the investment. On the business side, most companies state that achieving many of their environmental and social goals will require external expertise and partnerships. This is why matching business goals to conservation projects builds mutually beneficial relationships that we all benefit from. 

Projects submitted through TxWAC are carefully evaluated to address gaps in information and data needed to make a strong business case for funders. Whether it’s water quality and quantity, carbon capture or sequestration, air quality, or a myriad of other benefits, projects must articulate the long-term, bottom-line benefits for both business and natural resources. TxWAC works to provide partners and methodologies to address these gaps. 

Additionally, we work to drive dialogue around these barriers during our bi-monthly TxWAC meetings. In our August 2023 meeting, Emilio Tenuta, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Ecolab, and Wendy Larson, Senior Principal of Water Sustainability at LimnoTech joined us to share their insights when it comes to what project attributes companies are looking for when they are evaluating investment opportunities. 

7/25/23 TxWAC Meeting Recording from Texan by Nature on Vimeo.

Where are we headed?

Texas’ landscape and conservation opportunities are varied, unique, and often massive in scale. Boasting the 9th largest economy in the world, the same can be said for Texas’ industry leadership in energy, food, tech, agriculture, and manufacturing. These areas of leadership offer a significant opportunity to build a model which pairs local conservation with global Environmental Social Governance (ESG) strategy.

In addition to project matching through TxWAC, we are currently scratching the surface of how we can utilize the network we’ve built to develop and pair transformational water projects that address our state’s most critical needs like workforce and water supply, with private-sector funding. 

Our vision is for every business, every Texan to participate in conservation and for Texas to be a model of collaborative conservation for the world.

Building on our success and lessons learned from facilitating TxWAC, we are excited to launch the Texas Collaborative Conservation Network (TCCN) – now piloting in the Hill Country. In addition to water benefits which is the primary focus of TxWAC, TCCN is a model which provides funding and support for local conservation efforts that return measurable benefits in carbon, water, biodiversity, social good, and economic growth. The goal of building this conservation network is to match corporate funding and strategy to local opportunities.

We invite you to join us in advancing conservation! Get involved through the Texas Water Action Collaborative or the Texas Collaborative Conservation Network (or both!) Get in on the ACTION by contacting our team at programs@texanbynature.org – no matter where your interest lies, we have or will create the right avenue for you.