The first annual Next Generation Water Summit took place at the Santa Fe Convention Center from June 4-6. The event was hosted by the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, the Green Builder® Coalition, the City of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. Santa Fe Community College was the official education sponsor (and site of the pre-conference QWEL certification course in water-efficient landscaping). Green Builder® Media was the national media sponsor.
Over 40 speakers gave presentations, which were grouped into three tracks: Builders, Developers & Architects; Water Professionals, and Policy. Roughly three-quarters of the speakers were from Santa Fe (city or county), the rest from across the country.
The first day’s 12 presentations were free and geared to the general public. Topics included an update on the Santa Fe green building code; an explanation of the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS®), now required for all new building in Santa Fe; passive and active rainwater collection; greywater and blackwater systems; drip-irrigation basics; plant viability in the changing New Mexico climate; water rights in northern New Mexico, and how rain gardens and curb cuts affect soil moisture retention.
Bill Eckman, primary trainer at the EnergySmart Academy at Santa Fe Community College, spoke on the food-energy-water nexus, highlighting an important theme running through the conference: that the interrelationships among these areas are critically important, are not talked about enough, and are often hidden. Eckman noted that we often don’t make good environmental decisions for the simple reason that the true costs and implications of a given choice are not known. He used the example of a quarter-pound hamburger, which takes 660 gallons of water to produce.
Sandra Ely, Aamodt Settlement project manager for Santa Fe County, gave a detailed update on the mechanics of the Aamodt Settlement Agreement, which affects the water rights of the Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso and Tesuque pueblos, and residents living within the Pojoaque-Nambé-Tesuque stream system north of Santa Fe. Construction of a new regional water system, designed to reduce dependence on groundwater, is scheduled to begin in 2018, with completion by 2024. Ely explained the options for people currently using well water, which situations are and are not covered by the agreement, and from where the water for the new system will be sourced. For information about workshops to learn what your options are under the agreement, go to www.santafecountynm.gov/public_works/utilities/aamodt
The Santa Fe Green Expo ran concurrently with the first day of the conference, offering information about green products, publications, organizations and services, including the Santa Fe Watershed Association, the City of Santa Fe’s Water Division, and New Water Innovations, a Santa Fe water-treatment company.
Networking lunches provided a casual opportunity for presenters and attendees to share information around common areas of interest, in small groups organized topically by table. On Monday evening, a screening and discussion of the 2016 film Beyond the Mirage: The Future of Water in the West was held at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.
The two professionally focused days of the summit included presentations on water efficiency, water conservation, making regional water groups work, water leak detection, land use and water management, storm water as a resource, the future of the national WaterSense program, regulatory and technical barriers to adoption of water reuse, and more. The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS®), developed in Santa Fe, was a centerpiece topic of the conference. There were five presentations on various aspects of the system, including a case study on Santa Fe’s recent adoption of WERS®.
Ed Mazria, an international leader in green building and maximizing energy efficiency, gave the first keynote address, discussing how water and energy are intertwined in both energy production and energy use. Mazria said that in the Southwest, for each kilowatt-hour of energy consumed, eight gallons of fresh surface water are lost to evaporation. And in 2011, 53 percent of all fresh surface water consumed in the U.S. was used to cool fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.
Mazria told the audience, “Every conference now in the United States is about how we can get to net-zero carbon. Net-zero carbon is the stake in the ground. We need buildings certified before 2050 so no one can say it can’t be done.” He also believes that “all fossil fuels must be phased out by then if we want to have a high probability of keeping the planet.” Within the building sector, Mazria sees the plan for getting to net-zero carbon by 2050 being “1) high-performance new building design and major renovations; 2) deep-efficiency renovations; and 3) an increase in renewable-energy use, so we zero-out emissions in cities in the U.S. and worldwide.”
Mazria also discussed the effects of climate change in light of the environmental policies of the current administration, noting that bottom-up solutions are needed now more than ever. After the talk, a proclamation from Santa Fe Mayor Gonzales was read, describing Mazria’s many contributions and acknowledging him as a Santa Fean of international stature, and thereby declaring June 5, 2017 as Ed Mazria Day.
The second keynote speaker was Mary Ann Dickenson, president of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, who spoke on that organization’s Net Blue Ordinance initiative. The initiative promotes water-neutral development in water-scarce regions facing challenges to growth, through utilizing offsets to potable water demand. Dickenson explained that the process can allow growth without increasing water consumption across a community or water supply service area, and can help avoid building moratoriums. A model ordinance has been developed that communities can customize to meet their water offset needs. Outreach materials are available online and are free at www.net-blue.org
The 2017 conference schedule, with presentation descriptions and presenter bios, can be accessed at www.nextgenerationwatersummit.com/attendees/. Also, relevant articles on water use and planning in New Mexico can be found in the Green Fire Times’ May 2017 issue, archived online and available for download at http://greenfiretimes.com/green-fire-times-2017/
Videos of the summit’s sessions will be available on the Next Generation Water Summit website and Facebook page. Plans are already underway for the 2018 conference, which will likely be earlier in the spring to make it easier for water professionals to attend before work picks up in the busy summer months. Glenn Schiffbauer, executive director of the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are looking forward to an even bigger and better gathering next year.”
Nancy Grace has an M.A. in Community and Ecopsychology and a longstanding commitment to water and sustainable living. She volunteers for the Santa Fe Watershed Association.
From Bill Eckman’s talk:
EASY WAYS TO SAVE WATER AT HOME
· Take shorter showers
· Put aerators on faucets
· Install low-water-use toilets
· Use a low-flow showerhead
· Get an EnergyStar washing machine
· Use plants that require less water
· Turn off faucets while washing dishes
· Clean the driveway with a broom, not a hose
· Mulch around plants to hold water in the soil
· Turn off water when brushing teeth and soaping hands
· Water yard and outdoor plants early in the day to reduce evaporation
WATER USAGE BY CROP
(gallons per pound)