Leading environmental and water management experts convened Sept. 3 in Tempe, Ariz. to examine initiatives and strategies toward greater sustainability and preservation of Earth’s water supply as part of Rain Bird’s ninth Intelligent Use of Water Summit. Held at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Global Institute of Sustainability, in partnership with Rain Bird Corporation, the two-hour symposium provided an opportunity for thought leaders to engage in an open-forum discussion about global water-management programs, policies, initiatives, trends, and strategies relating to water availability issues in the American southwest and beyond.

Addressing the significant challenges facing citizens, corporations and countries in finding a balanced solution to current and future water scarcity issues, the two-hour forum was moderated by John D’Anna, senior editor for The Arizona Republic, and featured a panel made up of experts in water management, policy, infrastructure and sustainability.

Each panelist stressed the need for civic and business leaders to collaborate on the development and implementation of water conservation policies, and the importance of implementing policies, legislation and programs aimed at modifying public behavior.

“Perception of water use is quite different from the facts,” said panelist Doug Bennett, Water Conservation Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority. “This has to be a collaborative effort among the public and private sector.”

The panel also addressed the challenge of meeting the water needs of a growing society, an issue that is of foremost importance for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, commented Charles Redman, director of the School of Sustainability.

“Rapid urbanization and a diminished water supply has made central Arizona the ‘canary in the coal mine’ when it comes to water-scarcity issues,” said Redman. “It is an issue that is fraught with complexity and the solution needs to be one that properly balances the limited usable fresh water supply with the needs of a growing society.”

“Clearly, we need to implement policies that will guide the future growth of society in relation to the available water supply,” added panelist Jim Holway, Professor of practice in Civil and Environmental Engineering at ASU’s School of Sustainability.

When asked about the need to implement realistic pricing scenarios for water use, panelist Richard Little, Director, The Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, University of Southern California added, “Water consumption monitoring programs ultimately achieve neither cost-effectiveness nor meaningful water savings, while appropriate water pricing offers an opportunity to augment various conservation programs as a way of encouraging water conservation. Until we can bolster the link between the value of water and the price paid for consumption, it will be very difficult to drive significant change in consumer behavior as it relates to using water more efficiently.”

As the nation’s first and only School of Sustainability, ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability advances research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world through transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges of our day.

“It is through partnerships with like-minded people and organizations, such as ASU’s School of Sustainability, we aim to extend our focus on water conservation beyond products and services and into actions that motivate corporations and the public-at-large to support initiatives that encourage water conservation and global sustainability,” said Rain Bird Corporate Marketing Director, Dave Johnson. “Forums such as these, that provide a platform for some of the world’s leading authorities to discuss their views, ideas and insights are necessary for developing a better understanding of the type of changes we need to make before effective policy and programs can be implemented.”

Panelists for Rain Bird’s ninth Intelligent Use of Water Summit were Doug Bennett, Water Conservation Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority; Charles L. Redman, Director, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University; Jim Holway, Professor of practice in Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University; and Richard G. Little, Director, The Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, University of Southern California. A detailed recap of each panelist’s presentation is available for download in PDF format at www.rainbird.com.

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 examines the state of Earth’s most precious resource in the face of environmental uncertainty. Previous summit locations included Pasadena, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., Madrid, Spain, and Aix-en-Provence, France.