Addressing the significant challenges facing citizens, corporations and the global community in finding a solution to current and future water scarcity issues, the 10th Intelligent Use of Water Summit convened an impressive panel of Australian and U.S water experts in Melbourne for a day-long discussion on the sustainability of Earth’ water resources.

Presented by Rain Bird, the leading manufacturer and provider of irrigation products and services, in partnership with Smart Approved WaterMark, Australia’s not-for-profit water-efficient product labeling program for products that help reduce outdoor water waste, the water conservation symposium provided a unique opportunity for international thought leaders to engage in an open-forum discussion about global water-management programs, policies, initiatives, trends, and strategies relating to climate change and water availability in both Australia and the United States.

“It is now clear that water is at the heart of climate change and the more regulators, policy makers and citizens recognize this fact, the better off we will all be,” said Benjamin Grumbles, Former Asst. Administrator for Water at the U.S. EPA and one of the Summit’s panelists. “While Australians are recognizing the link between water use and climate change more than Americans, both countries still have a lot to achieve if we are going to find a solution.”

Joining Grumbles on this morning’s panel were Mary Ann Dickinson, Exec. Director, Alliance for Water Efficiency; Geoff Gardiner, General Manager Service Sustainability, City West Water in Melbourne; Julian Gray, CEO of Australia’s Smart Approved WaterMark; Stuart White, Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology in Sydney; and Greg Stewart, General Manager, Total Eden and Chair of Irrigation Australia WA Region

“The Australians have done a fabulous job in educating consumers,” said panelist Mary Ann Dickinson, Executive Director, Alliance for Water Efficiency. “In some areas, like South-East Queensland, water use is down to 140 liters per person per day. We Americans need to be much more sensitive about reducing our own consumption. The average water use per person is still around 600 liters.”

“Reducing the amount of over-irrigation of landscapes in the United States is a top priority,” added Dickinson. “We have been successful in developing much of the technologies and proper landscape design techniques, but awareness of the seriousness of the water situation is still well behind that of our counterparts here in Australia.”

Following the morning panel, Dr. Bryson Bates addressed attendees as the Summit’s keynote speaker. As the Director of CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Climate Program from 2004 to 2006, Bryson served as Lead Author for the Second, Third and Fourth Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He received a certificate of recognition for his contribution to the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to IPCC and Al Gore.

“There’s been little or no climate science behind planning in Australia to date. Climate change seems to be accelerating. The Catch 22 for climate change predictions is that we need a good 30 years or more to have some certainty that observed changes are not a temporary glitch,” said Dr. Bates.

“Water managers need to work more closely with climate scientists to plan for future water supply needs in an era of population growth and increasing climate uncertainty,” said Bates.

The morning’s panel discussion was moderated by Jeremy Cape, Director of CapeAbility Consultants Pty Ltd, a leading Australian irrigation consulting and research firm.

“Developing and implementing a water sustainability plan requires a global solution and an international exchange of ideas, information and technology if we are to successfully adapt to a changing climate and changing water supplies,” said Cape.

Following the morning’s panel discussion keynote address, attendees participated in a series of afternoon breakout sessions led by key members of Australian landscape industry associations, research institutes and water utilities.  Session leaders were Chris Bennett (Irrigation Australia) and Mark Frisby (Australian Institute of Landscape Architects), Dr Anne-Maree Boland (RM Consulting Group), Jeremy Cape and Dr. Bryson Bates.

“Australia faces some of the worst drought conditions of any inhabited continent on the globe, and reduced water availability presents a significant challenge for homeowners and landscape professionals as they strive to preserve landscapes while maximizing every drop of water,” said Rain Bird Corporate Marketing Director Dave Johnson. “Australia serves as a reminder to the world that water is the resource that most affects human life. Keeping the planet’s water resources viable into the foreseeable future requires advanced water conservation and better water efficiency through education and innovation”

Established in 2004 as a forum to further define the relationship between water conservation and landscape water use, The Intelligent Use of Water Summit series is an insightful examination of the current state of Earth’s most precious resource in the face of environmental uncertainty. Previous summit locations included Pasadena, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., Tempe, Ariz., Madrid, Spain, and Aix-en-Provence, France.

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