There was a tremendous amount of activity at last week’s WaterSmart Innovations Conference . I counted 43 exhibitors, and attendance exceeded 800 people from 33 states and 9 countries. More importantly, I felt the attendees were serious about managing water more efficiently and the conversations were interesting and meaningful. This was definitely the right crowd wanting to make a difference in water management.
One of the best conversation I had was with Charles Fishman over coffee one morning. Charles is the author of “The Big Thirst” who, a few weeks ago was the luncheon speaker at the UN for the International Water Forum. I really appreciate a guy who can adjust to his audience so quickly. He spent the last four years of his life writing and promoting his book, and as a result, is able to share some interesting perspectives on water. He told me it is important to discuss water in interesting ways, and the gloom and doom approach is not going to attract supporters. He reminded all of us during his keynote address, we have an emotional relationship to water, and we can use this to convince people to conserve. He thinks it is important to keep in mind we will solve the water problem in 20 years, not in 2 years. He also reminded us how far we have to go by mentioning we can find the exact price of oil at any time easily on CNBC , but most people can’t find the price of water on their bill.
I attended Community Based Social Marketing in Action presented by Veronica Blette. Her team consisted of Linda Yeager from the Regional Water Authority, Christine Kohn with In Communiciations, Kevin Tilden atAmerican Water and Carol Ward-Morris from Arizona Municipal Water Users Association . She showed what they did for for Fix A Leak Week, with the Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla and his friend Leaky “Loo” McFlapper helping to chase down leaks. This interesting presentation confirmed my thoughts that the public is ready for real time information on water management, especially in times of drought. This team shared real examples of how they are using social media in their communities.
Chris Curry was awarded the EPA WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year for 2011. A principal at Sweeney + Associates Irrigation Design and Consulting in Orange County, California, he has been designing water-efficient irrigation systems for a decade. Ranging in size from small residences to large regional parks, his projects have two things in common: they take advantage of smart irrigation technology and they use watering schedules and annual water budgets.
Finally, Larry Washington, of the super weird Rip the Drip campaign from Sheldon Group made an excellent presentation on Creating Communication that Inspires Behavior Change, which captured discussing water in interesting ways. If you have not seen Rip the Drip take a moment now. You are not going to believe this and we all know this guy.
And there was so much more! If you missed this year, I am sorry. Please plan to attend next year. This continues to be a highlight for water management conferences during the year. If you saw something you especially liked, please take a moment to tell us about it in the comments sections below.