Ep. 26, Advancing Sustainable Water Management Conference

Ep. 26, Advancing Sustainable Water Management Conference

Water as a Commodity and a Human Right

  • Professor Buzz Thompson argues that water is both a commodity and a human right, and that markets can effectively allocate water resources while also considering environmental factors.
  • Charlotte Kramer, a Stanford undergraduate, was surprised to learn that water is treated primarily as an economic commodity rather than a human right.
  • Professor Thompson responded by recommending his book, "Liquid Asset," which discusses private sector innovation in water management. He also highlighted the importance of recognizing water as a human right, even if it is not yet fully enforceable, as it empowers advocates to demand action from the legislature.

Water Management Innovations

  • Professor Paul Milgram highlighted the potential solution of recharging aquifers by creating deep pools to store excess water during periods of abundance, as proposed by Professor Scott Fendorf. This method could help mitigate the effects of global warming on snowpack storage and provide a more cost-effective alternative to building new reservoirs.
  • Charlotte found Megan Meder's discussion of capital expenditures (capex) and operating expenditures (opex) in water management systems particularly interesting, especially in the context of private sector involvement during times of high stress on water management.
  • Water management involves more than just drilling deeper for water; it requires recharging aquifers, eliminating low-value uses, promoting innovation, and finding new forms of storage.

Water Scarcity and Population Growth

  • Population growth is a significant factor in water scarcity, especially in regions with already limited water resources.
  • The speaker's personal experience with a flood in Luxembourg emphasized the importance of water and the need to address water-related issues.

Technological Innovation in Water Management

  • There are immense opportunities for technological innovation to increase water supply and conserve water, but the market currently lacks sufficient support for the development and commercialization of such technologies compared to the energy field.

Economic Perspectives on Water Management

  • Economic presentations highlighted opportunities to use markets to address water challenges, such as the Colorado River deficit and the preservation of wetlands in Florida through wetlands banks.

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