WaterSmart Innovations Conference Is A Resounding Success

WaterSmart Innovations 2011

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.

Richard Restuccia











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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. Currently he serves on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. As a board member, Richard serves in a variety of capacities, including government/public affairs. He is the liaison between the board and its marketing committee on the best ways to promote water efficiency and educate industry professionals on new technologies, products and services. Richard is also a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.




  1. Tuesday, 8:34 Martha

    People like Charles Fishman, my fellow bloggers, and characters like Rip the Drip and Leaky Loo McFlapper are taking big steps toward making water an interesting subject. Let’s face it, water management can be pretty dry (forgive me) but there are so many innovative ways to present it and the conference was full of great ideas! Can’t wait for next year…

  2. Wednesday, 6:08 Alan Harris

    Sounds like a great conference. Sorry I had to miss it (family wedding) this year, but look forward to attending next year. However, I did get to witness the rainiest October day on record in Orlando when they got 6″ of precip in a single day! Have I mentioned lately we have plenty of water?

  3. Wednesday, 12:05 Doug Bennett

    Great review, Richard. Only at WaterSmart can a landscape professional and a plumbing engineer attend the same event and both come away believing it was tailored to meet their needs.

    In this challenging economy, people in many industries are discovering that water efficiency not only makes sense for the environment, but that there’s money to be made for those skilled at helping their clients operate more efficiently. It’s great to see ValleyCrest taking a leadership role on this critically-important issue.

  4. Wednesday, 2:50 Martha Golea

    @Alan, we may have experienced Las Vegas’s rainiest day on record while we were there! Next year, send out “save the date” cards to all your family members so they know not to get married during the conference.

  5. Wednesday, 3:17 Richard Restuccia

    Great point Doug. I think what people are quickly learning as the price of water goes up is, water is part of almost everything we do. From food to landscape to manufacturing. Your conference helps them learn multiple ways to save water. Can’t wait to see what’s happening for next year.

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