Description of Talks

Water: New Thinking for the 21st Century
Peter Gleick

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Peter Gleick will present a summary of the world's current freshwater crisis -- from the failure to meet basic human needs for water, to growing political and military conflicts over water, to the new and severe risks of global climate change -- and will offer insights into how to address this crisis. Gleick is the leading proponent of a new way of thinking about sustainable water management and use, called the soft path for water, that integrates smart management with appropriate use of economics, technology, and institutions in a way that can help meet basic water needs for all, protect aquatic ecosystems, and sustain the health and well-being of the world's population.

Water Follows the People: The State of the Platte River Ecosystem After 150 Years of Flow Regulation
Ellen Wohl

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People of European descent began to substantially alter the distribution of water within the Platte River basin in the early 1860s. More than a century of diversion and storage of stream flows and withdrawal of ground water have now caused widespread and dramatic alterations in the physical, chemical and biological properties of streams across the basin. River protection and restoration form an integral component of questions of resource sustainability as population in the region continues to grow rapidly. This presentation briefly summarizes the history of river changes, the current status of rivers within the basin, and continuing efforts to protect and restore rivers in the region.

Water Conflicts in the Arid West: The Quest for Certainty and Control
Reed Benson

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The American West has known water scarcity and conflict since the 1800s, and has responded by pursuing two primary goals: control of water allocation for the states, and certainty of water supplies for users. Reed Benson will briefly discuss how these twin goals have shaped western water law and policy in various contexts. He will conclude by examining how endangered species protection and climate change adaptation pose serious challenges for the West, in part because they threaten state control and user certainty.

Development of Water Use Management Alternatives for the Fenton River Near Storrs, Conn.
Glenn Warner

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The impacts of water supply wells located in the shallow alluvial deposits near the Fenton River near Storrs, Conn., on instream flow and fisheries habitat were evaluated through field studies and modeling. Management plans for water use from the well field based on stream flows were developed from the study.

Interlinking of Indian Rivers – Pros and Cons and Environmental Concerns
Kaggere Lokesh

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“Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink” is the famous adage that suits well to the Indian water scenario. As the countries in the world are experiencing change in terms of development and improved quality of life (QoL), India is also undergoing such a change to bring in a good quality of life for its citizens.

By the turn of 2020, India dreams to achieve the status of a Developed Nation. For its dream to come true, there is a tremendous need of functioning infrastructure and resources such as water and power. It is in this direction that the country’s water resources need a relook to be managed effectively for their efficient usage and delivery. Though the country can boast of excellent water resources, currently they are poorly managed.

There is a tremendous pressure on water – sanitation and power sectors by the increasing population and industrial development. The reason being, water is a state subject and not a federal subject. The National Water Policy promulgated in 1987 clearly states that the water resources have to be used legitimately, protected and not exploited. It brings in also the water quality aspects, but most of the time not followed by the states or the agencies involved in the water sector.

To meet the increasing demands of water for various purposes, the government of India has envisioned a long term plan of interlinking Indian rivers. Though it is in right perspective, it has several critical issues to be addressed. They are the pros of interlinking, the consequences in terms of volume of water to be diverted, the number of projects to be designed and completed, land requirement, the time frame for completion, the displacement of human population, rehabilitation efforts etc. Over and above, there is a lot of concern with respect to environmental issues such as destruction of biodiversity, changing land use pattern, deforestation, pollution aspects, soil erosion and loss of fertility, damage to flora and fauna, flood and drought mitigation.

If the interlinking of rivers is taken seriously and implemented properly by considering the above aspects along with the political issues between the states and between the countries, the huge investments in terms of money (expected to cost over US $200 billion) will be justified then through long term benefits such as secured drinking water supply systems, food security through modern agricultural practices, power generation, navigational benefits, effectively controlled floods and droughts and improved quality of life.

Water Use and Abuse: Innovations in Conservation
Amy Vickers

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Are we entering a new era of water scarcity or are we confronting an old error of water waste? In the United States, the biggest water conflict we may be facing is the one between our water wants and our water needs. Our culture has a dubious relationship with water, from lawns and leaks to bottled water and creeks. Despite growing public awareness of looming water shortages, drought declarations, and major strides in water efficiency technology in recent years, by several measures water demand is increasing, particularly among people living in single family homes. Further, excessive groundwater withdrawals, including those by commercial bottled water companies, may be significant factors that are contributing to signs of water depletion, particularly in New England. Rejecting “sustainability talk” as a doomed approach to preserving the status quo, Amy Vickers will reframe today’s water challenges and present cutting-edge whole system conservation approaches that not only save water and boost water quality, but also strengthen communities and local economies, improve public health, and lead us to a more balanced connection with nature. Lastly, Ms. Vickers will discuss H.B. 778, a bill recently introduced into the Massachusetts legislature that calls for a moratorium on new and expanded commercial bottled water extractions.

Connecticut’s Stream Flow Standards: Balancing Human and Ecological Needs for Water
Lee Dunbar

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Legislation enacted in 2005 directed the CT-DEP to develop comprehensive stream flow standards that balance societal needs for water with the needs of fish and wildlife that depend on the availability of water to sustain healthy, natural communities. The statute further directed CT-DEP to make use of the “best available science” in developing regulations that “preserve and protect the natural aquatic life” while recognizing the “needs and requirements for public health, flood control, industry, public utilities, water supplies, public safety, agriculture, and other lawful water uses”. This presentation describes the process used by CT-DEP to develop stream flow standards as well as the key scientific and policy issues that shaped the final outcome of this process.

Balancing Human and Environmental Water Needs with Increasingly Scarce Water Resources
Mark Smith

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This presentation will review examples of how protection of freshwater resources and their associated biodiversity are being integrated into state and national water management frameworks. By examining several examples from across the United States and around the world the presentation will outline the similarities and differences among the approaches used in water management policies and describe some of the most effective examples that explicitly link the goals of providing water to meet human needs with the goals of protecting freshwater resources. The presentation will describe how new tools and improved science is informing the development of these policies and programs and offering solutions that previously were impractical.

Interstate Water Sharing Agreements: What Have We Learned?
Lynne Lewis

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In this talk Lewis will discuss the history and economics of water sharing in the Southwestern United States, water sharing agreements including interstate compacts and lessons learned from the successes and failures of those agreements. Highlighted will be disagreements over water sharing and resolutions of those disagreements as well as the flexibility of interstate compact allocation mechanisms to adjust when river characteristics change (e.g. climate, population, etc.). What lessons can be applied elsewhere such as during interstate water negotiations between Florida, Alabama and Georgia? What have we learned about flexibility in times of uncertain streamflow or changing climate?

Balancing Public Water Supply and In-stream Flow Needs: A Public Water Supply Perspective
John Herlihy and Peter Galant

This presentation will describe the key elements of public water supply planning and the need to balance these requirements against in-stream ecological needs when developing streamflow policies.

Conflict and Cooperation Along International Rivers: Scarcity, Bargaining Strategies, and Strategic Interaction
Shlomi Dinar

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Often cited in the popular press are predictions of impending ‘water wars’. Increasing water scarcity is often the main rationale for these prophesies. While instances of military skirmishes, or so-called ‘close {militarized} calls’, over water have been investigated and recorded, violent inter-state conflicts in the realm of hydro-politics have been rare. Instead, the academic literature has largely focused on understanding how political disputes and conflicts of interest over water have culminated. While the study of cooperation over shared water has likewise received significant scrutiny, the link to water scarcity has not. In other words, just as scarcity may be an impetus for dispute between states, it may likewise be the engine for cooperation and international treaty-making. Naturally, scarcity alone can't fully explain instances of conflict or cooperation, and additional factors (such as geographical and other types of asymmetries) need to be taken into account. Considering the intricacies of international water agreements also demonstrates how negotiation and cooperation may be facilitated through bargaining strategies such as side-payments and issue-linkage.

Droughts as Triggers for Civil War: Empirical Evidence and Policy Implications
Mark Levy

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An investigation into the spatial and temporal patterns of civil war onset reveals that severe shortfalls in rainfall significantly increase the risk of civil war in the affected region during the subsequent year. This finding has implications for peacebuilding activities such as early warning, livelihood support, and conflict management.

Think Outside the Bottle
Deborah Lapidus

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Clean drinking water is the basis for life, but soon two in three people will not have enough of it to survive. It is now our choice – will we manage water democratically so everyone has clean, safe water, or will we let corporate interests control this precious common resource at an overwhelming human cost? Learn how bottled water threatens our health and our ecosystems, costs thousands of times the price of tap water, and undermines local democratic control over a common essential resource. Come find out how you can Think Outside the Bottle and support public water systems!