USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Coca‑Cola North America President Sandy Douglas today announced that their partnership to restore and protect damaged watersheds on national forests achieved a milestone of 1 billion liters restored, and that the partnership will commit to double that outcome through 2018.
The announcement was made during a panel discussion on the value of public-private partnerships to address water challenges held in Washington, D.C.
“Our partnership with Coca‑Cola is based on shared goals of ensuring healthy watersheds and public engagement that serves our diverse local communities,” Sec. Vilsack said. “Joining together public and private resources harnesses innovation that neither sector could implement alone."
The 10 restoration areas are located on national forest land, which provides drinking water to more than 60 million Americans. This public-private partnership includes community organizations and taps their collective expertise to address increasing stress on water resources during challenging budget times. Dozens of local communities and hundreds of volunteers and youth worked together on water resource management education and stewardship activities.
“A thriving watershed is critical to every community we serve and our business,” Douglas said. “Coca‑Cola is on a journey. We plan to continue to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in our beverages and their production and return it to nature and communities. We could not accomplish the milestones we celebrate today without the expertise, guidance and resources of the USDA, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and many other organizations and community partners. In the coming years, we will work to build scale and expand these projects and partnerships.”
The Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico is an example of the public-private partnerships approach. Local partners are working together tohelp restore an alpine meadow and enhanced a natural wetland habitat. By slowing the flow of Placer Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande, the local team helped to restore a biodiverse meadow habitat and replenish the groundwater that contributes to the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s water supply. The meadow restoration project will replenish approximately 49 million liters of water per year.
On Aug. 29, during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, the company and its U.S. and global operations and bottling partners announced that Coca‑Cola is the first Fortune 500 Company to replenish all the water used in its finished products and their production and return it to communities and nature.
“As our business continues to grow, we expect to continue to work with partners and communities to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in our beverages and their production,” said Douglas.