'When Water Meets Money' Topic of Water Conference April 29-30

'When Water Meets Money' Topic of Water Conference April 29-30

March 20, 2009

"Blue Gold: When Water Meets Money" is the theme for UNL's sixth annual Water Law, Policy and Science conference. The conference will be April 29-30 at Lincoln's Embassy Suites Hotel.

Conference participants can register for general sessions, or select a law track session, which convenes on the second day of the conference. The one-day law track provides an overview of the many statutes and cases related to this complicated legal area and provide lawyers with practical tips for dealing with common situations.

"The primary audience for the law track is the practicing bar, but the information will also be valuable to individuals such as resource district managers and board members," said Lorrie Benson, assistant director of the UNL Water Center, which cosponsors the annual conference.

"For both the general and law tracks, the list of nationally known and respected experts in water science, economics and law that will speak at the conference is very strong this year," said UNL Water Center director Kyle Hoagland.

The conference pairs the latest topical science with related economic issues. For example, attendees will learn about the science of ecosystem services, followed by the economic value of those services.

Other topics are the basics of how water is valued; the potential costs and economic impacts of global warming on water resources; the value of water for different societal purposes, such as agriculture, manufacturing and recreation; and water for irrigation.

Several conference sessions will be devoted to water marketing and banking, exploring the basics of these topics as well as emerging best practices and ideas to reduce costs and make markets more efficient. First-day general session speakers include Ari Michelsen, Texas A&M University, with an overview on economics, and Colorado State University's Christopher Goemans, who will speak on the values of water for different societal purposes.

Former Nebraska Department of Natural Resources director Ann Bleed, now of CDR Associates, will begin an afternoon slate of speakers with a presentation on the science needed to implement water ownership regimes and to have water markets.

Also speaking that afternoon will be Garth Taylor, University of Idaho; Ellen Hanak, Public Policy Institute of California; David Brookshire, University of New Mexico; Ron Bishop, Central Platte Natural Resources District; and others.

Thursday's general session continues with an overview of what climate change could mean by National Drought Mitigation Center director Mike Hayes; the latest science on irrigation and water-related aspects of crops by UNL's Suat Irmak, Gary Hergert and others.

The second day law track features water modeling by DNR's Jim Schneider, river basin discussions led by Tom Wilmoth, Husch Blackwell Sanders, LLP; Mike Klein, Anderson, Klein, Swan and Brewster; and David Barfield, Kansas Division of Water Resources, among others.

The law track concludes with a panel discussion that includes representatives from the League of Nebraska Municipalities, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several state agencies.

Conference registration options and the complete agenda are online at http://watercenter.unl.edu/WaterConference/.

"Registration options allow people to pay only for the portions of the conference and associated meals they choose," Benson said. Registration fees increase after the April 15 preregistration deadline. Students can attend the conference free, but should register.

For more information or help with the registration process, contact Jacki Loomis, UNL School of Natural Resources, (402) 472-7550 or e-mail jloomis3@unl.edu. Conference room rates are available at the Embassy Suites Hotel through April 7; phone (402) 474-1111.

Conference cosponsors are the university's Office of Research, Water Resources Research Initiative, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Water Center, School of Natural Resources and College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Steven Ress
Communications Coordinator, UNL Water Center