Mary Ann Dickinson is the founder of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, an organization working to promoting the efficient, sustainable use of water in the U.S. and Canada. The Alliance works with water utilities, water conservation professionals in business and industry, planners, regulators, and consumers to promote the water efficiency message. She has been active in water for many years. In 1989 she was Deputy Director for Public and Governmental Affairs at the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority. A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a degree in Environmental Planning, authored numerous publications on water conservation, land use planning, and natural resources management, and has co-produced two films which have aired on public television and community cable stations.
I had the opportunity to interview Mary Ann at the Water Smart Innovations Conference last month in Las Vegas. She is making a difference in the way we manage water. Read on and learn about her perspective on water management.
Q: Mary Ann, we are glad to have you here today. First off, tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you for having me! I’m President and CEO of Alliance for Water Efficiency, the only nonprofit org in North America dedicated to water efficiency and conservation. This is the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s sixth year. We work with nearly 400 organizations, suppliers, businesses and the industry to promote water efficiency and sustainable use.
Q: What originally got you interested in water?
Water found me. I was an environmental planner by training and vocation, and you can’t have an environment without water.
Q: What do you see as the most pressing issues we are facing today in water in the world?
Lost revenue among suppliers means conservation programs are at risk. Rates must incentivize efficiency yet keep revenue stable. (Alan Harris wrote a post about this recently) We need to shift the dialogue on conservation. It should be viewed as long-term solution to supply challenges, not a problem. We’re creating a Handbook, Model and new resources to help utilities navigate this challenge and implement better rates. Check it out here.
Q: What issues are most important in the United States?
We have made great progress to reduce indoor water use, thanks to standardization of efficient fixtures and a growing water ethic. But outdoor water use is still poorly understood, measured and regulated. It can be 80% of residential use and is a big potential for savings. To address climate change challenges, we must also align water and energy efforts. Check out our report on the gaps in what we know.
Q: What should we be doing to solve these issues?
We need more research to identify the costs and savings for outdoor water conservation programs to encourage adoption. (We certainly have been encouraging early adoption with posts about smart controllers, flow meters, proper system design.)
Q: What does the Alliance for Water Efficiency do?
- Provide technical assistance to communities with our Tracking Tool, which evaluates conservation programs cost and savings
- Perform cutting edge research, on issues like industrial efficiency, water and energy
- Advocate for better water policy. We recently mobilized 44 organizations in 24 hours to oppose an amendment to harm efficiency! We help communities educate customers with our Never Waste campaign
Q: What are some of the Alliance’s short term goals?
We want to help communities prepare for coming shortages with better conservation planning. We also want to raise awareness about the need for water efficiency in all sectors, particularly for the consumer.
Mary Ann always makes interesting points about water and today was no exception. I really enjoy her information on water and energy and think all of us in water management are better off because of her efforts. Alliance for Water Efficiency has many resources for us to use. Please check them out and let us know what you think.
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