Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Coca-Cola Americas president Steve Cahillane announced Sept. 13 a public-private partnership to restore and protect damaged watersheds on national lands. Together these efforts aim to return more than 1 billion liters of water to the National Forest System, which provides drinking water to more than 60 million Americans.
The announcement was made at Midewin Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois.
The new collaboration between government, business and community organizations, including the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which have also contributed funding for these projects, will leverage collective expertise to address increasing challenges on water resources. Additionally, federal dollars spent on these projects have been matched two-to-one by Coca-Cola, NFWF and NFF.
"Coca-Cola supports more than 100 water projects throughout the U.S. in an effort to balance the water we use and help to ensure clean water supplies for communities," Cahillane said. "Our experience combined with the knowledge and resources of (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and other partners will exponentially increase efforts to create healthier, more sustainable communities for all Americans."
USDA's Forest Service, Coca-Cola, NFF and NFWF began working together in 2012 to restore natural resources and wildfire-damaged watersheds.
The Forest Service and Coca-Cola signed an agreement formalizing their partnership to continue collaboration through 2018.