PCL’s Annual Environmental Symposium a Watershed Event!
More than 200 Attendees Gather to Explore Solutions to CA’s Historic Drought
Against the backdrop of the Governor’s recent drought declaration, an overflow crowd of more than 200 of the top thinkers, doers and decision-makers on water policy joined together on Saturday, February 1 at UC Davis School of Law for the Planning and Conservation League’s 2014 Environmental Symposium. This year’s event, entitled Water for Life, focused on moving California towards a more equitable and sustainable water future.
The program kicked-off with plenary panel exploring varying visions for water planning for California, with a lively debate over the need to prioritize where we invest our resources versus more of an ‘all of the above’ approach (that meet certain criteria) to water planning; despite some significant disagreements among the speakers, there was consensus reached around breaking down barriers between sectors and working collaboratively wherever we’re able to solve California’s water crisis. Next up was an equally compelling plenary discussion about prospects for a 2014 water bond spearheaded by the authors of two bond proposals, Senator Lois Wolk and Assembly Member Anthony Rendon, as well as a presentation of public opinion polling on the bond. While data shows an increasing appetite for approval of a major water bond for California, there will need to be a unified front and massive outreach to ensure passage of such a measure. Participants were largely supportive of the Wolk and Rendon bonds (and agree either is superior to what is currently on the ballot), but some important differences between the two raise significant concerns still must be solved to move a green bond forward.
Following the morning plenary sessions, guests were treated to an awards luncheon where some of the most profound accomplishments in the water world were recognized, including California American Water for their San Clemente Dam Removal and Carmel River Reroute project; former Assemblyman Mike Eng for his historic Human Right to Water bill; and Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins and Assembly Member Mark Stone for their coastal protection efforts this past session. A short clip of “Thirsty for Justice: the struggle for the human right to water” was previewed for attendees, before they went on to choose from a wide array of water-related breakout sessions that ranged from water pricing and the water-energy nexus to what’s next for coastal protection efforts and the public trust doctrine. Participants then reconvened for a final discussion debating differing approaches for restoring the Bay-Delta, including the current administration BDCP proposal, an alternative portfolio approach that focuses on more regional water solutions to water, to the consensus near-term projects approach being spearheaded by PCL and others that seek to achieve immediate benefits for restoring critical ecosystems and safeguarding communities. The event was bookended by a pre-Symposium reception for sponsors and speakers on Friday evening, as well as a post-event wine-and cheese soirée that provided guests a chance to unwind and build the relationships that will be needed to promote more sustainable and equitable water solutions for California.
PCL’s 2014 Symposium was one of our most successful ever, and it would not have been possible without our many sponsors, the top-flight presenters who joined us, an amazing crew of volunteers, and, of course, the entire PCL family and the engaged attendees who made the day’s dialogue so engaging.
The Symposium theme for 2014 was "Water for Life: Towards an Equitable and Sustainable Water Future for California". Expert speakers and decision makers brought current information on the adoption of a Bay-Delta plan, statewide funding mechanisms for water, and water access issues for all Californians.
This year we celebrated the work of California American Water (Business of the Year), Former Assembly Member and Trustee Mike Eng (Helen Reynolds Award), and Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins and Assembly Member Mark Stone (Legislators of the Year Award)