Augusta, Ga.–The Conservation Leadership Council (CLC) today convened leading experts to discuss new, local and market-based solutions to help cities and states fix crumbling water infrastructure for consumers and agriculture across the country, a challenge that could cost $1 trillion for drinking water alone.
At a CLC roundtable at Augusta State University, Bob Young, former Mayor of Augusta, Ga., member of the Conservation Leadership Council, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, said, “Like Georgia and its Southeastern neighbors, many areas around the country are facing droughts and significant water infrastructure investment needs. We need innovative ideas and alternative solutions that activate private initiative and local knowledge to help meet our growing water challenges while at the same time growing our economy. The Conservation Leadership Partnership wants to elevate and support these important contributions to the conversation about our environmental challenges.”
Kameran Onley, member of the Conservation Leadership Council, Director, U.S. Marine Policy at The Nature Conservancy, former Associate Director for Environmental Policy, White House Council on Environmental Quality, and former Acting Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior, said, “As a longtime participant in water policy, I know private-public partnership solutions are one of the most important and effective tools to address our water challenges. The Conservation Leadership Council is presenting important and different solutions that can provide a new lens of entrepreneurship, fiscal responsibility and community support to meet our conservation goals.”
The CLC roundtable discussion was bolstered by presentations from: Ron Littlefield, Mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., on the need for stronger federal and local partnership to help meet the significant costs to maintain water infrastructure; David Reckford, Director, Flint River Basin Partnership, on public-private partnerships and technology that conserves water for farmers in Georgia’s Lower Flint River system; and Michael Curley, Executive Director and Founder of International Center for Environmental Finance, Ltd., and visiting professor at George Washington University School of Business, on ways to leverage the current federal investment in infrastructure in the private market.
The roundtable included a frank discussion about on-the-ground experiences with water policy with participants from municipal, state and federal government; agricultural interests; private companies in the water sector; conservation organizations and academia.
The event was the third in a series of regional roundtable discussions being sponsored by the CLC to engage local leaders and draw upon their on-the-ground efforts to explore and identify innovative conservation initiatives that promote new policy ideas through entrepreneurial approaches. The first took place in Denver, Colo., in July 2012, focusing on private stewardship and landowner engagement in conservation. The second was in Hilton Head, S.C., in September 2012, concentrating on habitat trading credits and other economical ways to conserve public lands.