CSG Policy Academy: Making Waves with State Water Policies

Making Waves With State Water Policies

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Palm B

Water issues are some of the most important policy questions facing state officials across the nation. Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 9 trillion gallons of water and dumped more than an average year’s worth of rainfall in some places—leaving underwater as much as 30 percent of Harris County, home to Houston, our nation’s fourth largest city. Science tells us that flooding is becoming more common and severe, meaning that hurricanes like Harvey and Irma are likely harbingers of disasters to come. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, resulted in an estimated $385 billion in social costs, stemming from toxic levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. Other water issues, including water quality improvements, droughts, water resource management, integrated water planning and the impacts of new federal regulations, raise a host of policy concerns for state leaders now and in the future. This one-day policy academy will explore a variety of these topics and highlight innovative policies being adopted across the country.

Session 1: Opportunities and Challenges in Water Infrastructure

The session will open with some scene-setting macro thoughts. The speakers will highlight flashpoints impacting water opportunities: infrastructure gap, climate stress, current state of innovation, and emerging solutions and business models to address challenges. 

Session 2: Communicating the Value of Water: Rate Setting and Affordability Issues

Communicating the value of water not only to the public, but to decision makers and elected officials, is critical to assuring financial sustainability of water systems and providing affordable water to consumers. This session will explore strategies to consider the financial needs and conditions of the utility while addressing affordability of rates.

Background Reading Materials:

Session 3: Water = Jobs: The Economic Opportunity of Investing in Water Infrastructure 

Closing the water infrastructure gap in the U.S. is a pressing need. The speakers will discuss the benefits of investing in water infrastructure, from job creation to sparking economic activity across the country

Background Reading Materials:

Session 4: Beyond Flint: The Future of Water Quality Issues in the United States

Communities from Flint, Michigan to New York have experienced tragic lapses in water quality. Consumer confidence in drinking water is understandably shaken. Hear from our speakers on national trends in water quality testing, monitoring and reporting; challenges faced by utilities with different water sources; common myths about water quality; and best practices in communicating consumer confidence results and community outreach.

Session 5: Strengthening Flood Resilience Through Integrated Water Management   

Floods can strike suddenly, devastating communities and rarely confining themselves to one political jurisdiction. Hear from our two speakers on how they are using integrated water management to tackle flooding challenges and reduce future flood risks.

Background Reading Materials:

Session 6: Managing Water During Times of Drought

Increasingly states are battling drought that has led to water shortages. Hear from industry leaders and state policymakers on the gravity of the situation. Speakers will discuss government actions—new policies, new mandates, what’s to come, opportunities to improve the water industry—and impact on counties, cities and industries.

  • Moderator: Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance
  • John Entsminger, general manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority 
  • Kathryn Sorensen, director, Phoenix Water Services Department
  • Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Joaquin Esquivel, member, California State Water Resources Control Board

Download Agenda

Download Speaker Biographies