Bruce Karas, VP for Environment and Sustainability, North America Coca Cola is among the participants in the Business of Water, Corporate Leaders Summit on Water and the Economy, which begins today in Las Vegas, Nevada. The summit is hosting more than 100 corporations, water agencies and business associations, all focused on innovation aimed at sustainable water management.
Hosted by Protect the Flows and Nuestro Rio, in collaboration with Southern Nevada Water Authority, NV Energy,Caesars Entertainment and Cirque du Soleil, the two-day event features a roster of influential speakers including special guests U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle, and leading executives Donald Colvin, Chief Financial Officer, Caesars Entertainment .
The summit focuses on the economic and community benefits of sustainable water supplies and watersheds, and shines a spotlight on the corporations that lead the way by reducing their water footprint and restoring watersheds. Businesses ranging from Main Street retailers to Fortune 500 companies come together to share innovations, best practices and challenges on water efficiency, re-use and recycling, charting a course to meet growing demands for industry, cities, agriculture and recreation.
The Colorado River Basin is used as a case study for the challenges and opportunities inherent in sustainable water management. The basin spans 7 states, provides drinking water to more than 35 million residents, produces over 19,000 megawatts of power and irrigates almost 6 million acres of agricultural land.
“The summit’s objective is to amplify the business voice and foster a productive dialogue with water managers and key elected officials -- a dialogue that focuses on incentivizing innovation, efficiency and conservation as cost-effective solutions to address our water challenges,” said Craig Mackey, Co-Director of Protect the Flows. “The diverse brands participating in the summit this year are all keenly aware of the water challenges we face, particularly in the West and the Colorado River basin, and they are acting now so that our economy and communities in the southwest can thrive long into the future. We commend these corporate leaders for their outstanding water stewardship contributions and practices.”
In addition to remarks from Interior’s Anne Castle and a welcome video from U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), summit attendees will hear from U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) on Friday in a keynote address discussing sustainability and conservation on the Colorado River.
The U.S. Southwest is a water sustainability hotspot for the business community, which relies on substantial amounts of water for production, cleaning, cooling, and other operating processes. A 14-year drought and rapid population growth have severely stressed the water supplies of the Colorado River system. Reservoir levels in the basin are perilously low: Lake Mead is only 39 percent full, its lowest level in history.
A continued imbalance of demand and supply could cause significant risks to businesses located in the southwest and to the communities where these companies are located. "In the face of an extended 14-year drought, we must face a future where Colorado River shortages will impact CAP deliveries to our customers,” said Pamela Pickard, Board President, Central Arizona Project. “Conserving water, along with other strategies aimed at ensuring our future water supplies, is one way to help us to deal with drought and climate change. It is gratifying to see the business community is in step with providers to develop conservation technologies and strategies that sustain our rivers and make our vital water supplies last.”
The Business of Water Summit showcases numerous innovative programs and game-changing technologies to manage and reduce industrial, urban and agricultural water consumption in the face of diminishing water supplies. Featured sessions will include discussions on: efforts to reduce the amount of water needed to produce electricity; technologies that allow wastewater to be treated and re-used in industrial processes; campaigns to engage employees, customers and suppliers in water saving efforts; public-private partnerships to incubate new water smart technologies. Ultimately the summit is intended to drive win-win solutions for the business community, water providers, the environment and the economies and communities in the southwest.
"Through innovation and new technology, we can develop sustainable access to natural resources, while also preserving and replenishing them through reuse and recovery processes. This commitment to resource optimization helps to protect the environment, delivers savings to our customers, and provides local economic opportunities," said Wayne Griffith, Director of Business Development, Veolia North America.
Additional noted speakers and panel leaders include Patricia Mulroy, Senior Fellow, Brookings Mountain West and Desert Research Institute; John Entsminger, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority; Jim Lochhead, CEO/General Manager, Denver Water; Pamela Pickard, Board President, Central Arizona Project, and Jeff Kightlinger, General Manager, Metropolitan Water District; Dave Stephenson, Director of Rates, California American Water; Paul Schuler, VP, General Electric Water; Jacob Atalla, VP of Sustainability Initiatives, KB Home; Kevin Geraghty, VP of Energy Supply, NV Energy; Dawn Welch, Director of Commercial and Industrial Services, San Diego Gas and Electric; Jenn Vervier, Director of Sustainability, New Belgium Brewing; and Dr. Peter Gleick, Founder of Pacific Institute.
This year’s Business of Water Summit is held in the Springs Preserve, 180 acres located just three miles west of downtown Las Vegas, dedicated to nature walks and botanical gardens, owned and operated by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The Preserve is a model of sustainability and utilizes a bio-filtration wetland area that recycles water from the Springs Preserve facility for reuse onsite. In addition, the City of Las Vegas is in close proximity to Lake Mead, where the dropping water level embodies the water resource challenges faced across the entire Colorado River basin.