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Stanley Cup to Be Water-Neutral

The 2011 Stanley Cup final will be the first water-neutral series in the history of the National Hockey League, the NHL said today.

The league has pledged to track the total water used at the two host venues, Vancouver’s Rogers Arena and Boston’s TD Garden, including everything from rinks to faucets. The NHL said it will replenish these through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Water Restoration Certificates (WRCs), restoring at least one million gallons of water to Oregon’s Deschutes River.

“This is a monumental statement on the part of the NHL, its fans, teams, and players,” said Todd Reeve, vice president of watershed programs at the foundation. “This commitment to match water used on the ice and in the arena with an equal amount restored to a critically dewatered river represents a cutting edge commitment to sustainability.”

The NHL notes that water rights holders, individuals who have the legal right to remove river water for beneficial economic use, have diverted most of the Deschutes River as it passes by the city of Bend, Ore. These disruptions have degraded habitats, water quality and the overall health of the river, the NHL said.

“The NHL Water Restoration Project will help return the Middle Deschutes to the vibrant watercourse it once was,” the league said.

The Bonneville Environmental Foundation created water restoration certificates in 2009 to provide an economic incentive for water rights holders to contribute to restoration. The foundation describes the system as the first national, market-based solution to restore flow to deteriorating fresh water.

The NHL project will provide financial support to the foundation in collaboration with the Deschutes River Conservancy, the organization negotiating with local water rights holders and managing the construction of stream flow restoration projects in the Deschutes basin.

Standards and criteria for the program have been certified by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and each league WRC is officially recorded and available for view online through Markit Environmental Registry, the NHL said.

The NHL previously partnered with Bonneville Environmental Foundation when it bought 426 renewable energy certificates for the 2011 NHL Winter Classic and All-Star games.

Earlier this year the Vancouver Canucks – who are competing in the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins – joined with five other Pacific coast teams from the NBA, NFL, MLB, WNBA and MLS to found the Green Sports Alliance, which aims to reduce sports’ impacts on the environment.

Alliance members are working with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Defense Council and Portland State University, to identify and adopt environmental initiatives.

Picture credit: NHL

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10 thoughts on “Stanley Cup to Be Water-Neutral

  1. From the article: “This is a monumental statement on the part of the NHL, its fans, teams, and players,” said Todd Reeve, vice president of watershed programs at the foundation.”

    It’s also of very dubious value as WRCs are nearly meaningless in real terms. Maybe this makes people feel good but these efforts usually do nothing for actual sustainability. They serve mostly to promote the Foundation and the NHL. See the article “The Simulacrum of Sustainability: Green Marketing’s Real Problem” by John Rooks in the same issue of Environmental Leader.

  2. Well Chris, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the fact of the matter is that this transaction represents a million gallons of water in a critically de-watered stream. If fish were capable of having an opinion, I think they would find this meaningful.

    For more information on what is behind this transaction, take a look at this travel post:

    and this TED talk:

  3. With tens of thousands of miles of dewatered streams, rivers, and wetlands in the U.S. this commitment from the NHL represents a huge step forward in connecting the people that use water with a system and solution to help restore water to the places that are in the greatest need of restored flows. If the NHL or any other entity desires to a) measure their water use; b) pledge to conserve water, and c) make a commitment to restore flows to a dewatered ecosystem, I view this as tremendous progress in connecting people and corporations with significant environmental solutions. In the face of the environmental challenges of this century, this appears to me to be a very positive step forward, and the NHL deserves credit for doing something creative and progressive. I am a BEF employeee.

  4. So, once and for all…
    If the Stanley Cup is worth being green for, and doing a little extra…then when are the people in the seats watching the game finally going to do a little more. Do a little extra. For themselves, their families, my family, your family…I mean, we are all in this together. It’s not like there is another island we can all move to.

  5. Iain,

    Excellent post.

    Just one small example: two weeks ago, I counted vehicles passing by on the highway during rush hour. I separated them into ‘big’ (pickups, SUVs, and the like) and ‘small’ (sedans, coupes, etc.). The results? The big/small ratio was 60/70. I’ve done this before, with similar results every time. Why are people still commuting to work in ‘big’ gas guzzlers??? That probably get gas mileage measured in the teens? Sure, any commuting by car is not very sustainable – but why make things even worse?

    We ARE all in this together, and people need to take responsibility for their individual contributions to our overall predicament. AGW is a distributed problem, and is in part made up of billions of individual choices that contribute to it. Even while we justifiably demand more responsible behaviors from our governments and from corporations, each of us also needs to make better lifestyle choices to help address the issue. Starting right at home.

  6. I completely agree. If the NHL can publicize issues around water scarcity and the need for conservation to their fans–this seems like a good place to start. In general, water and electricity are both undervalued in large part because the environmental costs are not included in the price that people pay. It seems to me that an entity like the NHL (and professional sports) can play a huge part in bringing this issue to the fore and helping fans to begin thinking about the water the is used in the arena, in homes, and on the ice. I for one think this is a positive step towards getting society–including the fans–to make a connection between water used, environmental impacts, and the need for conservation. Seems like this movement needs to start somewhere, and I am pleased to see the NHL playing a role. I am a BEF employee.

  7. Good question: In the best instream flow restoration projects, local NGOs work with irrigation districts and water rights holders to establish more efficient irrigation distribution systems. When there are investments in efficiency and conservation, the saved water can be restored instream to benefit fish, wildlife, and recreation. Presently, there is a great need to generate funding that can allow for efficiency upgrades to occur. The WRC model can provide the economic incentive necessary for this to happen.

  8. More should be done in the stadiums to conserve water and other resources. Perhaps charging a $1 deposit per re-useable cup and eliminating one way cups and setting up sinks for people to dump the un-used drink instead of dumping it into a waste bin.

  9. If ever there was a case of blatant “greenwashing” this is it! Until the NHL comes down hard – I mean HARD!- upon players that continue to inflict serious injury upon other players, such as the cheap shot a Canucks player inflicted upon a Bruins’ player, giving him a concussion, making a token gesture about water consumption is all a big joke! If the NHL’s money mongers are really serious about showing some sense of corporate social accountability, how about starting with the health and safety of its own members, and then working their way up to the low-hanging and great PR fruit. Not that I’m a Bruins fan, which I am, that is not the issue – allowing players to act in such irresponsible fashion where some could get seriously hurt or injured for life is unconscionable! Hey NHL, work on these social skills first, then you can work on greening the venues all you want. Who knows, you could even retrofit all the venues with energy saving green roofs, or even PV solar arrays to offset the energy being consumed to heat and cool the buildings.

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