Special Workshop for AZ and CO Growing Water Smart Alumni

Tapping into Drought Resilience for Colorado River Basin Water Leaders

June 29, 2021 | 9:00am – 10:30 (AZ) / 10:00am-12:30pm (CO)

 

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Summary:  Local water decision makers across the Colorado Basin are on the front lines in efforts to address deepening and more frequent droughts as the region transitions to a more arid climate due to worldwide climate change. Using a variety of conservation, efficiency, and other sustainable strategies, basin state communities are working to implement recently finalized Drought Contingency Plans to help mitigate these risks. A key question to answer in building, scaling, and implementing these strategies is: how can communities finance them? This workshop is designed to support a select group of elected decision-makers and their water managers and land use planners – who are alumni of the Growing Water Smart (GWS) program – to tap into drought resilience opportunities, tools, and resources available at the local level to expand their water management options and to advance the GWS efforts already underway. The training will highlight how these communities can leverage available funding and financing mechanisms to pay for a range of local solutions.

WaterNow will convene a 2.5-hour virtual workshop bringing together teams of local leaders and their management staff with subject matter experts to dive into several key resilience strategies, and how to pay for them, that can ensure equitable and affordable access to water for everyone including disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, including:

  • Re-envisioning water supply infrastructure (e.g., changing out turf with water-wise landscaping)
  • Incentivizing innovative water-wise development and disincentivizing water waste (e.g., conservation-oriented system development charges)
  • Leveraging alternative transfer mechanisms (ATMs) to supplement municipal supplies

To feature these strategies’ potential for building affordable, equitable drought resilience, attendees will receive training on financing and implementation strategies as well as how to access related on-demand funding and financing resources that are available via WaterNow’s Tap into Resilience Toolkit. The workshop also offers an opportunity for participants to engage directly with subject matter experts to dig into their specific challenges and surface tailored solutions through facilitated, themed breakout sessions. Expert panelists may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Cynthia Koehler, Executive Director, WaterNow Alliance
  • Lindsay Rogers, Colorado Basin Program Manager, WaterNow Alliance
  • Caroline Koch, Water Policy Director, WaterNow Alliance
  • Ed Harrington, Past President, Government Finance Officers Association
  • Julie Desimone, Partner, Moss Adams
  • Ted Chapman, Senior Director and Sector Leader, U.S. Public Finance Municipal & Cooperative Utilities Group, S&P Global Ratings
  • Anne Castle, Senior Fellow, Getches-Wilkinson Center, University of Colorado
  • Waverly Klaw, Director for Resilient Communities and Watersheds, Sonoran Institute
  • Erin Rugland, Program Manager, Babbitt Center for Land & Water Policy
  • Faith Sternlieb, Senior Program Manager, Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy
  • Representatives from leading communities implementing drought resilient strategies

Goals: The workshop objectives are:

  • to provide decisionmakers with practical, actionable, proven strategies for building resilience to drought in their communities that can be readily implemented and achieve near-term results; and
  • to link these key drought resilience strategies with a menu of available funding and financing mechanisms that offer decisionmakers an affordable and equitable portfolio approach for paying for water conservation and efficiency projects and programs.

Format and Approach: The Workshop will be a 2.5-hour virtual Zoom meeting beginning with short presentations on each topic followed by themed breakouts that participants will self-select. The breakouts will take deeper dives into the topics listed above and foster participant engagement. Participants will re-convene and report on the break-out conversations which will be geared to generate a set of next steps in each of the participating communities. Participants will takeaway practical knowledge and resources on funding and financing drought resiliency strategies.

Target Audience: The Workshop is designed to accommodate 20-30 past Growing Water Smart participants, ideally in pairs or small groups of political decision makers, city and utility managers, water utility staff and land use planners representing 10 Colorado Basin water providers, whether cities, towns, counties or special districts.

Questions? Please contact Caroline Koch (cak@waternow.org)