Hosted by the Texas Water Development Board

The Story of Texas Water January 23-25, 2019
Austin, Texas, AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center


#WaterForTX2019

General Sessions

The Texas Promiseland: Water Required Keynote speaker: Roy Spence, GSD&M

Industry-leading advertising and marketing communications professional Roy Spence returns to Water for Texas following the launch of his Promiseland Project. To build upon his motivational remarks at the 2017 conference, this year he'll discuss his vision for Texas.


How Do You Tell the Story of Texas Water? Moderator: William McKenzie, George W. Bush Institute
Panelists: Nancy Barnes, Houston Chronicle; Stacy Chesney, Denver Water; Rich Oppel, Texas Monthly; Asher Price, Austin American-Statesman

Drought, floods, and a rapidly growing population—and sometimes public apathy—pose unique difficulties for Texas journalists covering the gamut of the state's important water issues. A panel of journalists will explore the challenges and solutions to covering water issues in Texas.


Water Policy and the 86th Texas Legislative Session Moderator: Evan Smith, Texas Tribune

Texas legislators will provide an in-depth discussion on key water policy issues of the upcoming 86th Texas Legislative Session.


Learning from the Past to Shape the Future Keynote speaker: George Hawkins, Moonshot LLC; XPV Water Partners; Isle, Inc.

Because the future of Texas depends on water, the water industry plays a critical role in steering the state's course over the coming decades. But how can the industry embrace innovation, confront rising costs, and forge a beneficial relationship with the public?


Back to the Future: A History of Texas Water Policy Moderator: Heather Harward, Heather Harward Consulting
Panelists: Senator Kip Averitt, Averitt and Associates; Senator J. E. "Buster" Brown, The Browns Consulting; Representative Robert Puente, San Antonio Water System; Representative Allan Ritter, Ritter Lumber

Water policy has long been a priority championed by Texas legislators. In this panel, former legislators will discuss major water policy during their tenures, the results they envisioned, the outcomes, and the impact on today's water landscape.

Drought and Flood: Ensuring a more resilient Texas

Flood Mapping and Modeling: Seeing Is Believing Moderator: Richard Wade, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: Jerry Cotter, P.E., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Kris Lander, P.E., NOAA National Weather Service - West Gulf River Forecast Center; Michael Ouimet, Texas Division of Emergency Management; Kharley Bagley Smith, Hays County Office of Emergency Services

Flood mapping and modeling capabilities have changed the way we approach flood planning and response at the local, regional, and state levels. But will the tools and technologies currently in use and on the horizon continue to suffice, or should the state make other investments in flood science and data?


Deciphering Drought Through Technology and Tools Moderator: Sam Marie Hermitte, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: Chris Higgins, Brazos River Authority; John Honore, Texas Division of Emergency Management; Victor Murphy, NOAA/National Weather Service; Mark Shafer, Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program

As technology has evolved, so, too, has the ability to predict drought. New tools, technologies, and research are affecting Texas' drought decision-making process. What could they mean for the future of Texas?


You Talked, We Listened: State Flood Assessment Presenter: Mindy Conyers, Ph.D., Texas Water Development Board

The first State Flood Assessment is an important step by the Texas Water Development Board in preparing Texas to reduce the impacts of flood hazards. This presentation will discuss the assessment process, survey and outreach results, and recommendations.


Standing Tall in Our Rain Boots: Building a Resilient Texas Moderator: Kathleen Jackson, Texas Water Development Board Member
Panelists: Patrick Rios, City of Rockport; Joe Ripple, Brazoria County

The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey and the rainfall that followed left a lasting impact on Texans and large and small communities alike. Representatives of affected communities and other experts will discuss lessons learned from the event, the path forward, and strategies for thriving in a flood-prone landscape.


The Water Supply and Flood Mitigation Nexus: Can It Work? Moderator: Jeff Walker, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: John B. Hofmann, LCRA; Gretchen Miller, Ph.D., P.E., Texas A&M University; Stephanie J. Moore, P.G., Daniel B. Stephens & Associates; Michael Reedy, Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Given Texas' history and ongoing susceptibility to flood, now is the time to think innovatively about flood mitigation and control strategies. Panelists will discuss the feasibility of strategies such as reservoir modification, stormwater capture, and aquifer storage and recovery, as well as the future of flood and water supply planning working together.

Water Supply: Planning now for tomorrow

Salty Solutions to Our Water Supply Needs Moderator: Kevin Kluge, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: Jorge A. Arroyo, P.E., Freese & Nichols Inc.; Michael Irlbeck, EPCOR; Peter MacLaggan, P.E., Poseidon Water LLC; Craig Pedersen, Enviro Water Minerals Company

Brackish and seawater desalination hold significant potential as water supplies in Texas, but both have historically faced challenges. Panelists will examine success stories and technological advances that are helping rewrite the future of desalination.


Winning the Rate Race: How Much Should I Charge and How Do I Figure It Out? Moderator: Jessica Zuba, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: Angie Flores, Raftelis; Jessica Garza, City of Alpine; Aubrey A. Spear, P.E., City of Lubbock; Angie Sanchez Virnoche, PCS Group

Far too often water utilities are racing against time to implement rate increases based on immediate needs. Rate studies and industry trends can help water utilities make informed decisions on how much to raise rates and how to plan for the future. Industry specialists will discuss how to plan comprehensively for rate increases and how to look down the road to ensure a stable economic future for utilities and their customers.


More with Less: Can Texas Grow and Thrive Using Less Water? Moderator: Jennifer Walker, National Wildlife Federation
Panelists: Karen Guz, San Antonio Water System; Ian MacLeod, Master Meter, Inc.; Kara Shuror, City of Fort Worth; Keith Sides, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service

Over the last decade, Texas residents, agricultural producers, and industries have become more efficient with water use, but how far can this trend go, and how much of the state's future water demands can be met with greater efficiency and alternative sources? This panel will discuss how conservation can go hand in hand with Texas' growth and the ability to finance related projects.


Artificial Intelligence and the Water Industry: Has the Future Arrived? Moderator: Peter M. Lake, Texas Water Development Board Chairman
Panelists: Juan Landivar-Bowles, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife, Research; Michael Murphy, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center; Walter "Buzz" Pishkur, City of Arlington; Will Tynan, Lotic Labs, Inc.

Could the water industry soon function like a scene from "the Jetsons"? Panelists will discuss emerging uses of artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, and big data to improve efficiency and operations management in municipal and agricultural water use.


Are We Getting Mussel Fatigue? Invasive and Endangered Mussels in Texas Moderator: Robert Mace, Ph.D., The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment
Panelists: Woody Frossard, Tarrant Regional Water District; Robert Gulley, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts; John Higley, EQO; Cindy Loeffler, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Several freshwater mussel species are candidates for listing as endangered species, while zebra mussels are clogging many Texas lakes. Both could have significant effects on water supplies. Scientists and water providers will discuss the latest efforts to address them.


To Be or Not to Be: Aquifer-wide Management of Groundwater Moderator: John Dupnik, P.G., Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: James M. Griffin, Ph.D., George Bush School, Texas A&M; Marvin "Marty" Jones, Sprouse Shrader Smith; Sarah Rountree Schlessinger, Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts; Brian Sledge, SledgeLaw Group, PLLC

That is the question: Is aquifer-wide management of groundwater compatible or achievable with local control via groundwater conservation districts (GCDs)? This panel will look beyond academic exercises to discuss how the GCD model could be improved upon and the pros, cons, and implications of shifting toward groundwater management at the scale of the aquifers.

Water Communications: Telling our story

Outward Bound: Building Relationships with the Public Moderator: George Hawkins, Moonshot LLC; XPV Water Partners; Isle, Inc.
Panelists: Yvonne Forrest, City of Houston; Janet Rummel, North Texas Municipal Water District; Greg Wukasch, San Antonio Water System; Stephanie Zavala, Rogue Water

What does branding in the water industry look like? Is it important? Water utility representatives and other experts will discuss how to foster relationships with the public, cultivate water awareness, and build an identity within communities. They will also explain why that communication is more vital than ever.


Companies Investing in a Sustainable Water Future Moderator: Brooke T. Paup, Texas Water Development Board Member
Panelists: Roian Atwood, Wrangler; Mary Draves, The Dow Chemical Company; Anne Monine, Cargill; Mark Yamauchi, Toyota Motor North America

Companies throughout the state and country are recognizing the benefits of incorporating water sustainability efforts into their operations. Corporate representatives will share insights into their financial and environmental successes and opportunities.


Changing the Narrative Through a Statewide Water Campaign Presenters: Andrew Sansom, Ph.D., The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment; Jeff Walker, Texas Water Development Board

What would it take to change the public's opinions and actions toward water? This presentation will share data-driven insight into what a statewide public awareness campaign could look like and what is needed to achieve a successful (and necessary) widespread shift in behavior.


Rewriting Reuse: It's Just Water Moderator: Tom Entsminger, Texas Water Development Board
Panelists: Christina Montoya-Halter, El Paso Water; Tommy O'Brien, P.E., City of Abilene; Kenneth Rotert, U.S. EPA; Anthony Wilson, City of San Angelo

Reuse is becoming more and more popular among utilities, but communicating this strategy to customers remains a challenge. Panelists from communities that have considered and/or successfully embraced indirect or direct reuse will share their insights.