Panelists closing statements
Brett: Thanks to all the panelists, we assume that all the discussion went smoothly and had some conversations. We have the panelists back in the room here and we are going to get everyone together for some final observations and what they took away from the discussion today but I want to frame that in a way based on what we’ve been talking about. We talked of water as one of the most difficult things to manage because it has so many different characteristics and it’s used in so many different ways by different people. It is an economic good, it is a social good, involves question of political power and social dynamic, so the question I want to post to the panelists as they think what was talked today is: “What sort of incentives needs to change or what is the key stone idea or key change that will be made to help move water management into a better position?” We’ll start with Peter to kind of kick this thing off. Peter do you think there are some incentives for take away particularly for California as the main topic of our discussion that ought to be exchanged for better management to occur?
Peter: Well, thank you, it’s been an interesting conversation and obviously a complicated issue, I do think we need different kind of incentives, we need to think about water differently, we need to broaden in the participation of disadvantage communities in the conversation and ecosystems in the conversation it gets back to the earliest question about power, It was interesting in the discussion that Junaid raised about power, we talked about the political powers cities and agriculture and industry and there was no mentioned of ecosystems and I think that was probably just an oversight but it’s a common oversight and until the incentives are sufficient to bring everybody into the conversation and until the incentives are directed towards using water more efficiently rather than incentives to figure out how to extract ever more water out of the system and until the incentives are directed toward sustainable systems, in other words incentives that don’t encourage overdraft of ground water but then encourage the sustainable long term use of ground water. We’re not going to be able to manage not just droughts but frankly we’re not going to be able to manage our water systems anywhere. One final quick comment on this, a little bit of caution about lessons, I’m a big fan of learning lessons and I push the argument all the time that success stories are really important for understanding what works in different places. But not every lesson can be applied or everywhere, I think there are lessons of California can learn from Australia, from other parts of the world and vice versa but the differences in institutions, the differences in legal structures means that not every success story can be applied everywhere and I think we just ought to be a little careful about that.
Brett: Excellent, thank you Peter. And so part of the question, the same question to Manu Lall from Columbia, what incentives do you see working and not working in your work in Brazil and India and California?
Manu: I think what we see universally is that we have to change some of the rules that are out there and they are different in each place as Peter was pointing out. It’s a little bit hard to answer your question from that point of view, I think the participant create management structure that’s supports, negotiated, allocation of water in a dynamic way, we have seen that work in Brazil and that is something that I think could be brought to California essentially leveraging what was done with the water bank, examples in the past, so that’s a possible. In terms of that, as I said earlier having the ability to predict what’s coming up so right now there’s a prediction of a Godzilla El Niño, great but there is considerable uncertainty as to what that specifically means in terms of water supply, is the drought going to actually stop which reservoirs are likely to get failed or not, maybe this is not something that can be predicted at all. But if there was an effort to actually work on that issue then I think we could facilitate some of the transactions that could result from that. The crops selection aspects, these are very different, in a country like India those are mandated. The crop selection is determined by government policies so essentially the government runs a contract farming operation. In the context of California, that’s not true but what is similar is that there’s opportunity to move from low cash value to high cash value crops and you have to be a bit careful there because the duration of some of these crops is different than others and so, you know, you can play some games with that. Now as Peter was saying also I think if the overall incentive structures were set up properly, that would probably enable moving towards a system which has incentives for conservation which means using relatively inexpensive technologies through radios, water application in the farms and here I’m not thinking of some of the organizations that are working on high casual crops that had already moved to fairly efficient system but to the others, so I think those combinations, are things that we could strive for in the new setting of… it’s fairly evident that the pumping of Central Valley Water over to Southern California is a relatively expensive energy proposition even compared to increasing water reuse. So there are options that are available, that are being tried in another countries as was mentioned earlier that I think are for California as well.
Brett: Alright, thank you Manu. I want to push this question to Lindsay from the corporate and business side. Do you work for some of the biggest companies in the U. S. and in the world on water stewardship? What is necessary for more of that to happen? What else is needed to bring more businesses into this discussion?
Lindsay: Well, I think that from the private sectors standpoint, what’s needed is kind of recognition of the strong performance that we are saying. So in part, this is something that we can look to consumers to do more demanding of stronger water performance by companies in the space. They definitely have a voice and an impact over the behavior of the private sector and if we want to see greater more developed action here than greater activation of consumers would be incredibly helpful. I also think that we want to see from the private sector includes a more deliberate movement to engage in activities that move beyond just compliance. So there’s a lot of great work that is happening by going beyond defense line, by taking a long view, by thinking about how we pursue business differently, how we value natural capital and all of those things are incredibly important to finding an economic balance that can help us sustain critical fresh water ecosystems, so I think if we were able to make movement in those areas, that would be a great step forward.
Brett: Alright, thank you Lindsay. I got to put the same question here to Larry in a different context. So, your building systems and there’s a lot of cities that could benefit from water reuse, perhaps on the coast that are not looking in that direction. So what do you do to get cities to look more towards… putting in this towards of recycling systems that we see has been successful in many places?
Larry: Thank you, show them particularly economics of it when they’re looking for alternative water supplies, there’s been a fair bit of research here recently on water reuses, looking at triple bottom line impacts and how economical in fact water reuse, specifically potable reuse can be when compared to alternate water supplies, for example, desalination is significantly more expensive than potable reuse because the salt content and the ocean is 35,000 milligrams per liter compared to 500 to a thousand milligrams per liter in typical waste water, it is much easier to treat the waste water frankly than it is to desalinate the water. The energy cost are significantly lower so the sustainability of that particular option is much better. It is also a lot cheaper than moving water around, pumping large volumes of water say from Northern California down to Southern California is extremely expensive so water use can be shown to be much more economical than moving large volumes of water because of the power that’s required to do so. So I think sharing somebody economic, success stories or water reuse will really help that discussion along.
Brett: Alright. Thank you Larry, we wrap up here with Matts and Circle of Blue would like to ask the big question: As a climate and water researcher, what are the big questions that you are looking at? What information do we not know that we ought to be thinking about or researching?
Matts: I think there is a great need to improve the prognosis and predictability of the climate change per se. I think that is also where a lot of work is going on but it is going to be more important. Definitely have a real demand for its technology and of course, it’s an end to end process so if you improve your ways and means of predicting droughts for instance in a medium to long term range, it doesn’t help people until we actually get information to those who need it so, to prove the government’s chain of and how to make sure that it reach the end user, it is very important and it goes from national government to local government to private business sector to farmers to individuals in communities, so this chain of using the information that means that information has to be tailor made in a way that it can be usable and accessible. I’d like to put another point also here link to private sector and how water is being used. We talked about a global challenge here, takes different shapes and forms in different parts of the world, in different countries, but the world is getting smaller and smaller, have an increased trade, increased interactions between different regions and I think as consumers we also have a responsibility which we can take on better if we are informed of where the products come from and how they are produced and so on. If I go and buy shirt here in downtown Stockholm, I bet it is being produced in China, Bangladesh or India using the resources over there but if I’m informed on how the shirt is produced and how the resources are used, I will probably become a better buyer and therefore also put pressure on the delivery chain to my clothing store. Thanks.
Brett: I want to thank all of the panelists here, as you can see from our discussions today, water is unbelievably complex but I hope you take away a sense of optimism that there are a lot of people working on solutions and there are ideas out there that can move water management to a better place. So I’m going to pass the mic to Carl here who is going to talk about small group discussion that we’ll have following this.
Carl: We are going to go even deeper for those who can stay on the line. In a moment we’ll put you into smaller breakouts groups to discuss this issues and more and again we hope you stay on the line and join the next round of groups with experts and hosts and your colleagues. So what are the major barriers to building resilient systems around water, food and energy in California and around the world? And you’ve heard from global and California discussion leaders, what are the steps to move toward action? These are just some ideas we hope that you’ll discuss amongst yourselves.
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