OC Summit on California’s Water and Economic Crisis

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – Even as some water agencies in Northern California relax water conservation mandates for their customers after a wet winter, the state is still facing a water crisis. Infrastructure and water supplies are severely threatened, for which state lawmakers approved an $11 billion water bond to go before voters in November.

Orange County residents, and businesses and community leaders are invited to engage with water utilities and legislators on possible remedies, long-term solutions and the pros and cons of the water bond at the 3rd Annual O.C. Water Summit, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., May 14 at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland Resort (Anaheim).

Presented by Orange County Water District, Municipal Water District of Orange County, Disneyland Resort and Title Sponsor Siemens Water Technologies, the O.C. Water Summit brings together experts from across the country and Southern California business professionals, water industry stakeholders, elected officials, community leaders and environmentalists to discuss ongoing state water issues and how water supply challenges impact the economy. 

Program highlights include:

  • Paul Rodriguez: Actor, Comedian, Chair of the Latino Water Coalition will speak to the water woes in the Central Valley and moderate the panel “California Farmers – The New Endangered Species.”
  • Steve Solomon: Writer for The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Economist, Forbes, and Esquire; regular commentator on NPR’s Marketplace and Bloomberg TV among other news shows. Solomon is the author of “Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization.”
  • Joel Kotkin: Economist, columnist for Forbes and author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”  Kotkin will present the connection between having adequate water supplies to meet projected population growth, and ensuring a thriving economy for future generations.
  • James Thebaut: Producer and Director of “Running Dry,” a documentary feature film inspired by the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon’s book, “Tapped Out.” Thebaut will give an overview of global and California water problems. Following the Summit, he will show a video preview of his upcoming film “Running Dry: Beyond the Brink.”
  • The Honorable Loretta Sanchez, United States House of Representatives: Congresswoman Sanchez will elaborate on water pumping through the Bay Delta impacted by enforcement of the Endangered Species Act and what the Administration can and can’t do and is doing; innovative water projects the U.S. government has or will invest in; and challenges they are facing with funding/authorizing these projects; and what government is doing to protect California’s agricultural economy.
  • The Honorable Jose Solorio: California State Assemblyman Solorio will present how the water bond came about; an update on the Delta Conservation Plan and the efforts of his Assembly Sub-Committee and the appointed Delta Committee; and the legislature’s next steps.
  • Curt Schmutte, Principal Engineer with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: will use graphics to simulate what will happen to Southern California’s water supplies if the Bay Delta levees break.
  • Kendall Jackson Winery, Robert Boiler, VP of Sustainability & Production Estates: will discuss the impacts water shortages are having on the winery, innovative and cost effective water conservation efforts the winery has implemented and the process changes implemented that save water and money.
  • Water Bond Town Hall: The water bond overview and debate is the keynote lunch program scheduled for Noon-1:30. The session will begin with a nonpartisan overview of the bond presented by Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Ron Gastelum followed by a panel of opponents and proponents to debate the merits of the bond, followed by audience Q&A.
  • Scott Maloni, Vice President of Poseidon: will speak to the need for ocean desalination as part of a diversified water portfolio, and address environmental concerns including gas emissions.
  • Victor Carrillo, City Manager, Calexico, Mexico: Will discuss water recycling and ocean desalination efforts in Mexico and the devastating water issues Calexico is experiencing due to the recent 7.2 earthquake that hit that region. Could that happen to California if a large earthquake were to destroy the Delta levees or other water structures?

Water supplies imported into Southern California have experienced historic cutbacks with no immediate relief in sight.  Most of Southern California’s water supplies come from two imported sources – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta in Northern California and the Colorado River.

The Delta is the lifeline of our state. It provides water to farming communities in the Central Valley, the heart of our agricultural economy, and cities throughout Southern California. Pumping from this source has been restricted to protect endangered habitat and water yield has declined due to drought conditions. Factor in annual cost increases, land subsidence, population growth, rising sea levels and inevitable earthquakes that could destroy the weak levees along the river and you have a formula for a disastrous economy.  In addition, access to Colorado River water is threatened as six other western states compete for that water, drawing more of it to meet demands of their own growing populations.

California voters face a historical $11 billion water bond this November. Water Summit attendees will hear a lively debate about the bond where opposing views will be presented, and solutions discussed and challenged. The fee to attend the OC Water Summit is $125 for pre-registrants; $140 at the door, and includes breakfast, lunch, parking and Summit materials. Online registration is at www.ocwatersummit.com. Register now; last year’s event sold out!

The Orange County Water District manages the groundwater basin underneath northern and central Orange County that provides most of the water for more than 2.3 million residents. Established by the California State Legislature in 1933, OCWD is a special district governed by a 10-member Board of Directors. For general information, call (714) 378-3200 or go to www.ocwd.com.