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Panel Descriptions


1A. The Quantification Settlement Agreement: A Salton Sea of Problems

From engineering mistake, to beautiful resort community, to an impending ecological disaster, the Salton Sea is the often-ignored result of California’s more than century old struggle over water supplies. The Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) aims to limit California’s use of Colorado River water consistent with its federally allocated share while securing adequate supplies for urban Southern California’s thirsty future.  A key feature is transfer of water from agricultural use in Imperial County to Southern California urban uses. The QSA provides water to Southern California cities, but impacts the Salton Sea and Imperial County residents in the process. Low income communities in the area will have to cope with the impacts of the degradation of the Salton Sea. This panel explores the benefits and adverse impacts of the water transfers.

1B. Water Supply and Usage in California as Seen by NASA

New technology and detailed research have greatly expanded applications of satellite data for water management in California and beyond. This panel will focus on how NASA’s earth observations, science, models and related technical capabilities can help farmers maximize water usage.  Applicable legal issues may be briefly addressed during the Q&A session.

2A. Winegrowing: At the Intersection of Water Conservation, Water Quality Regulation, and Climate Change Adaptation

The panel will focus on adaptation within the context of California's wine-growing industry. The discussion will involve insight into how laws and regulations currently impact the industry's use of water resources and the future development of water conservation and sustainability practices.


2B. Sustainable Storage in the Face of Climate Change

By the middle of this century, as California's population is anticipated to reach 50 million people, its statewide average temperature may be over two degrees Fahrenheit higher than today. The results will likely be rising sea levels, more extreme weather events, and reduced snowpack. This panel will discuss the role that water storage may play in helping to manage climate change's anticipated impacts on California’s hydrologic system. Specifically, this panel will discuss the physical and institutional aspects of planning, development, and management of appropriate storage infrastructure, and its relationship to other water management tools. The discussion will include the implications for beneficial uses of water such as municipal and domestic supply, agricultural supply, and fish and wildlife habitat.

3A. The Potential Costs and Benefits of Desalination in California

Desalination, the process of removing salt from saline water in order to make the water suitable for human consumption or irrigation, has received a lot of attention throughout recent years, both around the world and here in California. The obvious benefit of desalination is an increase in the supply of consumable water. Opponents to the numerous plants point out the many environmental issues associated with Desal, including the damage to marine life caused by the intake of water into the plants and the disposal of the hyper-saline brine that is a by-product of the process. Other concerns with desalination include the economic viability of the plants, as well as the impacts desalination may have on density and development. The panel will examine the tension between the realistic need to meet long-term water needs and the criticism that desalination is an unfeasible solution to a problem that would be better addressed with conservation and reuse of water.

3B. The Hetch Hetchy Controversy

The O’Shaughnessy Dam impounds the Tuolumne River at the lower end of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. The dam and reservoir serves as the primary water source for the Hetch Hetchy Project, which provides municipal water in the San Francisco Bay Area. The panel will focus on the legal and public policy issues surrounding the O’Shaughnessy Dam. Panelists will discuss the practicability of urban reliance on large scale dam systems, such as the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and explore the potential effects of dam removal on hydro-electric power and water supply, along with the possibility of the restoration of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Moderated by Professor Jay Lund, panelists from several of the most influential environmental and public policy groups will touch on the controversial water law issues that pit environmentalist against environmentalist.

4A. Increased Freshwater Flow in the Delta: Different Agencies, Different Perspectives (BDCP/Delta Plan Panel)

In May of 2013, the Delta Stewardship Council released its final Delta Plan. On December 13, 2013 the California Department of Water Resources and other agencies released the Public Draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The BDCP will be incorporated into the Delta Plan provided that it complies with the requirements of CEQA, NCCP, ESA and the 2009 Delta Improvement Action.The Delta Plan and current drafts of the BDCP both focus on changing the point of diversion to the north Delta rather than on increasing freshwater flows through the Delta. Yet, in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife issued criteria suggesting that significant additional freshwater flows were needed to restore the Delta's smelt, salmon and steelhead fisheries. This panel will explore why different agencies have come to different conclusions about the need for additional freshwater flows to restore the Delta's ecology and fisheries. The panel will also consider issues raised in pending litigation concerning whether agencies are abusing their discretion by not proposing and implementing additional freshwater flows.

4B. Contaminants of Emerging Concern: The Next Generation of Water Quality Oversight

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) include flame retardants, hormones, pharmaceuticals, steroids, nonylphenols, and pesticides that are found with increasing frequency in water.  In 2010 a Scientific Advisory Panel convened by the California State Water Resources Board published a report assessing concerns about CECs in recycled water with a series of recommendations.  In January 2013, the Board’s California Recycled Water Policy was updated to included a section on CECs that directs ongoing research in this area. This panel will discuss the current state of research and proposals for control of CECs in California and explore tensions between public health risks and use of public resources that influence the CECs debate.

The 2014 Symposium will host 8 panels, run as 4 concurrent sessions. The above panel titles and descriptions are tentative and subject to minor changes.


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