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Experts gather at Connecticut College to discuss world conflict over water

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Water is life's most precious resource. And while it is everywhere, useable freshwater is a relatively scarce commodity spawning generations of conflict.

"Competition for water - for consumption, irrigation, industrial and other use - results in conflicts both locally and internationally," said Doug Thompson, the Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Faculty Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies at Connecticut College. "By gathering together some of the world's most preeminent experts on conservation and water use, we hope to propose solutions that would enhance the sustainable use of water and reduce political strife."

Experts will gather at Connecticut College April 3 and 4 for "Water Scarcity and Conflict," the 2009 Elizabeth Babbott Conant Interdisciplinary Conference on the Environment. Lectures and discussions will examine the root causes of conflicts over water use, assess weaknesses in the current physical and political infrastructure and suggest ways in which water can be used in a more sustainable manner.

A highlight of the conference is a keynote lecture by Amy Vickers, president of Amy Vickers and Associates Inc., an international consulting practice specializing in water conservation, and author of the Benjamin Franklin Award-winning book, "Water Use and Conservation." Vickers will give a talk titled, "Water Use and Abuse: Innovations in Conservation," Friday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Evans Hall, Cummings Arts Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

Conference participants will also hear from 13 additional expert speakers, including Peter Gleick, a leading expert on the sustainable use of water and co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan research institute in Oakland, Calif., that works to advance environmental protection, economic development and social equity. Gleick, a winner of the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Award and a member of the National Academy of Science, will give a talk titled, "Water: New Thinking for the 21st Century."

The cost to attend the full conference is $60 for the general public and $25 for students. For more information or to register, visit

"Water Scarcity and Conflict" is sponsored by the Goodwin-Niering Center for Conservation Biology and Environmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Elizabeth Babbott Conant Symposium Fund, the Marjorie Dilley Lecture Fund, the Jean Thomas Lambert Environmental Lecture Fund, the Beaver Brook Foundation, the Connecticut Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources and Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

About Connecticut College

Situated on the coast of southern New England, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college with 1900 students from all across the country and throughout the world. On the college's 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound, students and faculty create a vibrant social, cultural and intellectual community enriched by diverse perspectives. The college, founded in 1911, is known for its unique combination of interdisciplinary studies, international programs, funded internships, student-faculty research and service learning.

For more information, visit

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March 31, 2009