Current water challenges discussed at 2017 Water Summit

The 2017 IA Water Summit was held on Nov. 10, 2017, in Orlando, Florida, and focused on the relationship between irrigation and water management. The goals of the summit were to 1) drive the discussion about irrigation’s role in water management, and 2) discuss the role irrigation plays in providing solutions to water challenges.

The irrigation industry is generally considered part of the problem with water supply challenges, and the industry will continue to work to change the narrative to be viewed as part of the solution.


Featured speaker

Adam Putnam, commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Putnam believes that “water is the defining debate of this century.” In Florida, it is a major driver with water features, amusement and entertainment areas, landscaping and agricultural uses.

The bad news is that by 2030, the state of Florida will face a 1 billion gallon per day water shortfall. The good news is that per capita water consumption continues to fall because of new technologies, efficient practices, etc.


Water policy issues haven’t always been “top of mind” in the past, but they are gaining notice. Using reclaimed water and focusing on infrastructure are important public policy issues in Florida. According to Putnam, the important factor is finding a way to continue to feed the population, while maintaining the higher standard of living consumers are accustomed to. This will require a new green revolution — or possibly a “blue” revolution.


Sustainability in Water Use panel

The following panelists participated in the discussion:

Warren Gorowitz, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply

Amy Graham, Texas Nursery and Landscape Association

Gorowitz defined sustainability as taking resources we have and preserving them for future generations. This consists of three parts: people, planet and profits.


Technology and how we irrigate have evolved and improved over the years, but there are still challenges facing the industry. Gorowitz discussed the importance of an emphasis on investing in green infrastructure at the political level and collaboration from varying sectors of the industry to provide a stronger voice in advocating for the industry.

Instead of waiting for someone else to create our story for us, Gorowitz believes we need to lead the discussion about the value of irrigated landscapes.

Graham discussed the Texas Water Smart program, an initiative started when Texas experienced a drought in 2010 – 2011.

Texas Water Smart consisted of state officials working with private companies to promote water conservation and efficient water use. The program increased public awareness of efficient water use through many different avenues.

An important aspect of the initiative was to ensure that those making decisions on water use or water restrictions understood the consequences related to those decisions. The message for those decision-makers was the importance of keeping the water on.

Knowing that drought will happen again, Graham says the work through this initiative will continue.


Water Challenge panel

The following panelists participated in the discussion:

Ben Bolusky, Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association

Chris Butts, Georgia Green Industry Association

Dennis Carman, White River Irrigation District

Katie Masucci, City of Plano, Texas

Each participant provided an overview of the top water challenges in their area and successful initiatives used to address these challenges. Topics discussed included landscape irrigation in Florida, drought and water bans in Georgia, the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project in Arkansas, and successful water conservation messaging in Plano, Texas.


A full report of the water summit will be available in early 2018.