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The Sixth [Business] Day of Christmas: Day Two Plenaries

The Sixth [Business] Day of Christmas: Day Two Plenaries

On the sixth [business] day of Christmas, the Iowa Water Center gave to me…descriptions for Thursday’s plenaries.

The following plenary sessions will be presented on March 24, 2016 at the Iowa Water Conference in Ames. Registration for the conference will open in January.

From Drought to El Niño, California’s Water Odyssey
Dr. Doug Parker, Director, California Institute for Water Resources and Strategic Initiative Leader for the Water Initiative

Critically low reservoir levels, fallowed fields, wells running dry and the Governor’s mandatory 25 percent water cutbacks for urban users have sharpened the focus on water management in California. California has always endured periodic droughts – and this one has been one of the worst. But this pattern isn’t new, and because of it California has become smarter about water use.  While we have seen huge gains in agricultural water use efficiency, there are still calls for agriculture to reduce water use or relinquish water to alternative uses (urban and environmental).  Yet, after 4 years of severe drought, California now finds itself preparing for a record El Niño that may produce record amounts of rainfall and the potential for flooding.  How does a state plan for drought and flood at the same time?  How can we encourage citizens to conserve water when forecasts are for heavy rains and potential flooding?  California’s water paradox requires new thinking in resources management.  This presentation will explore some of the ways the state has adapted to its volatility in its water supply and how its institutions must plan and carryout water management regimes in times of extreme weather events.

Looking Under the Hood: The Pros and Cons of Using Law to Achieve Environmental Quality
Professor Jerry L. Anderson, Richard M. and Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor of Law, Drake Law School

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA) when the family farm was still the norm and the major pollution problems emanated from industrial and municipal sources. While the law has made significant progress in those areas, agricultural pollution remains largely unaddressed. Several recent legal actions attempt to fit the square peg of the CWA into the round hole of present-day pollution problems. We will discuss the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, the Mississippi River litigation, the Waters of the U.S. rule, and the Washington dairy farm case, and draw some conclusions about how current law works — and doesn’t work — to achieve our water quality goals.

Engaging people to preserve water resources: Insights from Psychology
Dr. Christie Manning, Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Environmental Studies and Dept.  of Psychology, Macalester College

Nonpoint source water pollution comes about through millions of human decisions, some large and consequential (e.g. what will our community put on the roads to mitigate ice in winter?), some small and seemingly innocuous (e.g. should I water my lawn today?) When people make these decisions, the environmental consequences are often not their primary consideration. Instead, people’s choices and actions are driven by the set of circumstances and priorities they face in the moment. In this presentation I will introduce a set of psychological guidelines that can raise the importance of water resources in people’s minds and help create situations where the more environmentally sustainable choice is also the more appealing. The guidelines are drawn from research studies and include (1) know your community’s identity and values; (2) change the social norms; (3) make hidden information visible; and (4) build people’s competence.

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