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.
- Moderator: Edgar Ruiz, executive director, CSG West
- Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance
- Nathan Allen, executive director, WaterStart
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.
- Moderator: Josh Young, government affairs senior director, American Chemistry Council
- Glenn Barnes, associate director, Environmental Finance Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Gregory Pierce, senior researcher, Luskin Center for Innovation, University of California at Los Angeles
Background Reading Materials:
- Review and Recommendations for Implementing Water and Wastewater Affordability Programs in the United States, National Consumer Law Center, March 2014.
- Best Practices in Customer Payment Assistance Programs, Water Research Foundation, 2010.
- Navigating Legal Pathways to Rate-Funded Customer Assistance Programs: A Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities, UNC Environmental Finance Center, 2017.
- Designing Rate Structures that Support your Objectives: Guidelines for NC Water Systems, UNC Environmental Finance Center, 2009.
- Drinking Water and Wastewater Utility Customer Assistance Programs, U.S. EPA, 2016.
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
- Moderator: Devashree Saha, director of energy and environmental policy, The Council of State Governments
- Alexander Quinn, director of sustainable economics, Hatch
- Josh Young, government affairs senior director, American Chemistry Council
Background Reading Materials:
- National Economic & Labor Impacts of the Water Utility Sector, Water Research Foundation and Water Environment Research Foundation, 2014
- The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure, Value of Water Campaign, 2017
- Measuring Water's Sizable Impact on the Economy and Job Market, The Avenue, Brookings Institution, 2014
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.
- Moderator: Scott Berry, director of policy and government affairs, US Water Alliance
- Christina Devine, Ph.D candidate, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech
- Clark Halvorson, assistant secretary, Environmental Public Health, Washington State Department of Health
- Peter Grevatt, director, Office of Water, EPA
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.
- Moderator: Tom Owens, program director, US Water Alliance
- Tyler Antrup, urban water program manager, Office of Resilience and Sustainability, City of New Orleans
- Carol Haddock, acting director, City of Houston Department of Public Works & Engineering
Background Reading Materials:
- Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan
- Resilient New Orleans: Strategic Actions to Shape Our Future City, City of New Orleans, 2015
- Flood Risk Management: Call for a National Strategy, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2014.
- Flood Risk Management: The Need for Sound Policies and Practices, Civil Engineering Magazine, April 2014.
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 Speaker Biographies