Second Annual Business of Water Summit Held in Las Vegas

Protect the Flows, an association representing business interests in the Colorado River Basin, hosted their second annual Business of Water Summit on August 28th and 29th in Las Vegas. The summit brought together commercial business, water industry, and political leaders representing organizations with varying levels of influence to share innovations and best practices to solve the challenges facing water conservation and sustainability policies—especially in the Colorado River Basin. An explicit goal of the Summit was to create a platform for businesses to interact with elected officials to advance sustainable water policy.

Key speakers included Senator Harry Reid and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Ann Castle. Both focused their speeches on the challenges to developing effective sustainable water policies. Castle’s speech warned that no “one-size fits all” policy would solve the water problems facing the western United States, pointing to municipal conservation strategies or reduced irrigation as “mythical” solutions that failed to address the root of the issue. Instead, Castle argued that compromises over the complex and competing water rights held by cities, farmers, states and Indian tribes would be necessary to effectively address water consumption during the drought period.

Senator Reid’s speech underscored the severity of the problem in the western U.S., and urged the represented businesses to support political leaders who were willing to accept and address the varied aspects of water issues (such as climate change impacts). The Senator emphasized that “smart water” innovations would help business’ bottom line through increased efficiency of delivery, and that public-private partnerships would be necessary to move both water policy and technology forward.

Other notable speakers included Pat Mulroy of the Bookings Institution Mountain West and former General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, John Enstminger, General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Pamela Pickard, President of the Board of the Central Arizona Project, and Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water.  Lochhead was interviewed by the Las Vegas Sun regarding the importance of the Colorado River to Denver’s water supply and his concern over a “compact call” – which occurs when Denver is unable to meet its obligations to lower basin water rights holders. Additional issues discussed at the Summit included the energy/water nexus, engaging with customers, and corporate case studies.

Written by Stratecon Staff