Conservation Issues Front and Center at ACWA Regulatory Summit

From water rate structures to drip irrigation to water conservation outreach in tough economic times, attendees at ACWA’s second annual Regulatory Summit heard the latest on an array of water use efficiency topics at a day-long session Aug. 15 in Rohnert Park.

About 100 ACWA members and others got a look at the technical aspects of measuring agricultural water use and meeting the state’s mandate of achieving a 20% reduction in urban water use by 2020. They also heard from experts on conservation water rate structures, effective messaging on the value of water and the link between on-farm efficiencies and groundwater recharge.

Water agencies are pursuing a variety of measures to reduce demand and increase efficiencies through best management practices, speakers said. The Department of Water Resources is gearing up to evaluate projected savings through urban water management plans that local agencies will submit in early 2016.

On the agricultural side, irrigation districts are working to comply with new requirements to measure and report agricultural water use. Speakers addressed a variety of technical and tactical approaches to what can be a costly challenge.

Luncheon speaker Craig Miller, senior editor of KQED’s Climate Watch, shared insights from a recent multi-part series on the link between water and power in California. The connection is becoming even more important as state and local agencies continue to pursue measures to save water and energy.

“Water and energy really depend on each other,” Miller said. “They become an even more critical issue under the pressures of a changing climate.”

The final session focused on ways to message the need for conservation at a time when water rates are rising in many parts of the state. Representatives of three ACWA member agencies shared their ideas and successes in messaging water conservation and water rate increases in a challenging environment.

Presentations from the Regulatory Summit will be available soon at www.acwa.com