Could You Operate With 40 Percent Less Water?

drought_cracked earthThis year’s drought in California highlights a national trend affecting many in the green industry – the increasing frequency and magnitude of water scarcity. Globally, water demand is predicted to outstrip availability by 40 percent in 2030. The 2014 Seeley Summit, “Water: Horticulture’s Next Game Changer,” provides an opportunity to learn and develop a multi-faceted approach to tackling this issue.

Learn The Root Of The Water Scarcity Problem

Without protective legislation, green industry firms are often expected to forfeit their current use of potable water for urban/suburban consumption. Even with such legislation, amounts permitted for production purposes likely will decline as demand increases for potable water by expanding urban centers. This has already occurred in Florida, where initial permitted amounts 12 years ago have been decreased by as much as 40 percent in some areas. Just 15 years ago, nursery and greenhouse irrigation was unregulated in these same areas.

Dr. Ron Griffin, a resource economist at Texas A&M University, will discuss the roots of the water scarcity problem — primarily deficient policy signals for water’s innate value — and implications for the future policy environment in which water is allocated and priced. Part of the message concerns needed policy change, which can be anticipated by water users, and part concerns the future of water pricing and availability.

How Water Policy Will Impact Businesses

The Colorado River is destined to become the most litigated and contentious stream on the planet. Already, there is a long history of legal action surrounding this river and billions of state and federal dollars have been spent to control and divert its waters to agricultural and urban areas. The states bordering the water account for a large proportion of the U.S. population and also of U.S. agriculture.

There are difficult questions to be addressed including: allocation of water for urban vs. agricultural, as well as the type of agriculture activity (water efficient crops vs. less efficient animal agriculture). Lyn Clancy and Nora Mullarkey of Lower Colorado River Association will discuss water policy and how it will continue to impact businesses.

Securing Long-Term Water Availability

California leads the nation in agriculture and horticulture production. The state’s infrastructure for water storage and distribution has enabled its vast agricultural development over the past hundred years. Water scarcity, exacerbated by the current drought, is forcing agricultural producers to make tough decisions.

Bill Phillimore, executive vice president of California-based Paramount Farms, the state’s largest agricultural water user, will present on their experience addressing water scarcity by attempting to secure long-term water availability, as well as more than $25 million in investments in modern technology to reduce orchard water consumption.

How Growers Can Make A Difference

Nationally, our customers live in areas subject to periodic extreme drought, leading municipalities to impose severe water rationing with devastating consequences for greenhouses, nurseries, home landscapes and plant purchases. Our industry has much to gain by responding to these trends in the products we offer and in working to inform water policy. The Denver area is the home of “Xeriscape,” a landscape movement begun in the early 1980s to promote water-efficient landscapes in urban areas.

Al Gerace, CEO of Welby Gardens Co. in Colorado, was instrumental in the development of the X-Rated Garden Centers of Colorado program during the 2002-2003 drought in Colorado and New Mexico. Gerace will address: How do we make changes in our business to accommodate ever-increasing water costs? In drought conditions, how do we convince legislators (and consumers) to factor the environmental, social, economic and health/wellness benefits of plants, trees and flowers into any restriction guidelines they’re considering?

Seeley Summit To Provide Strategies And Opportunities To Tackle The Water Issue

Join these and many other experts from both within and outside the green industry as we tackle the burgeoning issue of water scarcity. This year’s Seeley Summit will be held June 22 to 24, 2014 in Lisle, Illinois, conveniently located for ease of travel into Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports.

Summits are intended to promote discussion of issues important to the future of commercial floriculture. The meetings are structured to foster discussion by industry leaders and increase the level of understanding of topics through presentations by speakers with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. The goal of the Summit is to better prepare attendees to make decisions on issues that have a great impact on their businesses and the industry as a whole.

Visit the Seeley Summit website or refer to the Seeley Conference Facebook fan page for the complete schedule and to reserve your spot for the Seeley Summit.

For more information, contact Dr. Bill Miller (President, Seeley board), wbm8@cornell.edu, or Dr. Neil Mattson (Executive Secretary, Seeley board), nsm47@cornell.edu.

Source: Seeley Summit

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