Nearly 7,500 acres of wilderness in Texas will be protected thanks to a somewhat unexpected source: the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS). The beverage company has invested $1.1 million in the Nature Conservancy for preservation and restoration of five natural areas.

The preserves are all major watersheds in Texas. For major beverage companies like DPS, watershed protection is becoming increasingly common—not as a philanthropic gesture, but to protect a vitally important resource for the company’s financial success. DPS’ headquarters, three manufacturing plants, and several warehouse and distribution centers are all based in Texas and rely on access to clean water.

One of the protected areas is the Clymer Meadow Preserve, 1,400 acres of rare blackland prairie that protects the Trinity River watershed by holding and filtering rainwater. The Texas City Prairie Preserve and Nash Prairie Preserve, both near Houston, protect coastal grasslands that absorb and disperse water from storms and hurricanes. The Cibolo Bluffs Preserve and Love Creek Preserve, both near San Antonio, help protect the Edwards Aquifer, the main source of drinking water for city residents.

At each preserve, the Nature Conservancy is working to manage and restore prairies, streams, wetlands and forest lands. Scientists are also performing research and providing education and community outreach. Through a seed collection program, the Nature Conservancy is distributing native prairie grass and wildflower seeds to nearby landowners and developers to help spread the benefits of these plants.

The beverage industry has been looking for solutions to water scarcity for more than a decade. Efforts have included adding more efficient technology in factories, helping to save millions of gallons of water. Eighteen of the largest companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Miller, have invested millions of dollars in a Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable that focuses on water as one of its primary challenges. Ecosystem services, like the protection of the Texas watersheds, will be a major part of ensuring continuing access to clean water.

Main photo credit: Rainie Bishop/Nature Conservancy