"It's important to realize that conservation is not going to be enough for most regions. We simply can't conserve our way out of every water crisis."

US water experts gather at Smithsonian for summit

In an effort to bring attention to current and future water scarcity issues and the significant challenges facing citizens, corporations and the global community, US water experts convened in the nation’s capital this morning at the Intelligent Use of Water Summit: State of The Union. Led by an impressive panel of representatives from city and state municipalities and water agencies that excel in implementing effective landscape water efficiency and conservation programs, the 11th Intelligent Use of Water Summit focused on providing greater insight into the water conservation policies and legislation, programs, initiatives and trends that ultimately steer city and state-wide efforts to reduce outdoor water waste.

Presented by Rain Bird, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the water conservation symposium provided a unique opportunity for thought leaders to engage in an open-forum discussion about water-management strategies and successes across the nation.

“It is imperative that we build an understanding among the general public and with the policy makers that no other resource is going to have a bigger impact on the future of human health and well-being than water,” said Rain Bird corporate marketing director Dave Johnson. “It is through forums such as these that we aim to bring greater awareness to the importance of creating a sustainable water supply and combine expertise towards a long-term solution.”

Moderated by Susan McGinnis, veteran journalist and managing editor/anchor of Clean Skies News, this morning’s panel featured Paul Goble, City of Indian Wells (Indian Wells, CA); Karen Guz, San Antonio Water Conservation Dept. (San Antonio, TX); Elizabeth Hurst, Inland Empire Utilities Agency (Chino, CA); Karla Wilson, EcoWorks Unlimited, on behalf of Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources and Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (St. Louis, MO); Mark Risse, University of Georgia on behalf of Conserve Georgia (Atlanta, GA); and Doug Bennett, Southern Nevada Water Authority (Las Vegas, NV).

“It’s important to realize that conservation is not going to be enough for most regions.  We simply can’t conserve our way out of every water crisis,” said Mark Risse. “We need to look at improved methods of collecting and storing the water that we accumulate during the rainy seasons and moving water to areas that need it. We also need to look at the areas where we are growing, discouraging growth in areas where there is not enough water and encouraging growth where there is plenty of water available to sustain future growth.”

As panelists, each had the opportunity to showcase their water conservation case study and share their successful strategies and initiatives on outdoor water conservation with those in attendance as well as those watching and participating via the free web cast on Rain Bird’s corporate website and Facebook fan page.

“We are in a persistent drought in southern Nevada with very little annual rainfall. Our main concern right now is the effect that climate change will have on the Colorado water shed,” said Doug Bennett.  “We know that the people of southern Nevada will be more resilient to a potential change in the availability of water if they use the water that we currently have more efficiently.”

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 presents a view of the current and future state of water resources through the eyes of water conservation and environmental experts. Previous summit locations have included: Pasadena, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; Tempe, Ariz.; Madrid, Spain; Aix-en-Provence, France; and Melbourne, Australia, in March of 2009.

Rain Bird devotes significant resources to its Intelligent Use of Water public education initiatives, which include: a series of white papers; public service announcements; membership on the Alliance for Water Efficiency and the steering committee advising the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its WaterSense product labeling program; The Intelligent Use of Water Summit series; The Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition; partnerships with nonprofit organizations, including sponsorship of National Public Gardens Day with the American Public Gardens Assoc. (APGA) and water management education initiatives with the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA); development and support of elementary and middle school curriculums; and The Intelligent Use of Water Award program recognizing leaders in water conservation.

A replay of The Intelligent Use of Water Summit: State of The Union is available for viewing on RainBird.com. For updates on all of Rain Bird’s Intelligent Use of Water initiatives, become a friend of Rain Bird on Facebook and follow Rain Bird on Twitter @RainBirdCorp.