In October, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) hosted its Annual Water Summit in San Diego, California. The conference featured a range of experts on various subjects, including politics, water infrastructure financing, affordability, cyber-security, climate change, watershed sustainability, public-private partnerships, and opportunities to support the non-profit organization, Water for People.

Shannon Dean, Chair of California Water Association’s Public Information Committee and Corporate Communications Director for California Water Service Company, moderated a panel featuring Cynthia Barnett, author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis; Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst; and John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal reporter and author of The Tree Rings Tale.

Fishman fielded questions about the general public’s apathy about water and its irrational unwillingness to pay for water utility services, which are summed up by a passage from his bestseller: “…we fail to appreciate two things: the value of easy, reliable water service in our daily lives and our economy, and the level of investment that kind of water service requires.

For her part, Barnett elaborated on the “water ethic” she advocates for in her book, emphasizing her belief that Americans waste far too much water and that “free and cheap water America has cost our freshwater ecosystems—and us—too much.”

Rounding out the panel, Fleck discussed the challenges of deciding how to allocate finite water supplies, particularly in his home state of New Mexico, where Native Americans, endangered species, farmers, city dwellers, and power generators all compete or a limited supply of water.

All three authors shared the opinion that water is a resource that should be treasured, or in the words of Fishman, even “revered,” and that water providers and water users everywhere need to be proactive in dealing with water challenges in order to secure the future of generations to come.

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