2017 Energy & Water Nexus Summit Hits on Hot Topics in the Bay Area Infrastructure Scene

Bay Planning Coalition’s seventh annual iteration of the Energy & Water Nexus Summit was held on Friday, September 22 at the headquarters of East Bay Municipal Utility District in downtown Oakland. The panels and presentations addressed a number of critical issues facing the Bay Area’s water and energy infrastructure and resilience planning efforts.

  • Click here to view the agenda for the event. 
  • Click here to view the presentation slides for the event. 

State Groundwater Management Act

A panel dedicated to discussing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which established a new structure for managing California’s groundwater resources at a local level by local agencies, focused on its development and also many of the challenges facing its implementation. One of the biggest challenges is going to be determining groundwater basin and groundwater sustainability agency boundaries. To combat this and other challenges, the California Department of Water Resources is engaging in a campaign to communicate with all of the basins in the state – almost 130 of them – and establishing programs to provide technical assistance and other information related to SGMA. Something the panel highlighted is how differently SGMA will ultimately be implemented in different parts of the state, simply because the state water landscape is so diverse. Innovation and relationship-building will be critical.

 

Water Utility General Managers – What Keeps Them Up at Night?

A roundtable of General Managers from the region’s water utilities included conversation on a number of issues – everything from a widespread need for infrastructure updates and how each utility district will be affected by the California Water Fix (Delta tunnels) project to how the utilities are addressing climate change and what they anticipate the effects of it to be. Almost all of the utilities represented are making major efforts to be carbon neutral in the coming years, as well as to reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources. A major topic of discussion was how the utilities are addressing the change over the last year from operating in a drought situation to operating with, in some cases, an abundance of water – particularly after their customers have developed drought-related habits that made them very effective at using (and purchasing) less water. While making great efforts to address the financial impacts of that shift, the utilities are all working to make sure the they are prepared for the next drought, which they see as inevitable.

 

Resilience and Risk

Edgar Castor, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Protective Security Advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area, gave a presentation highlighting his agency’s efforts to coordinate threat response and preparedness with businesses and utilities in the region. Stakeholders are encouraged to connect with him about how DHS can be of assistance and its current programming in this area. Michael Germeraad, a resilience planner with the Association of Bay Area Governments (now part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), highlighted the efforts and studies being coordinated across the region related to everything from water supply and sea level rise to earthquake preparedness.

 

Cap and Trade

An expert panel, including State Senator Bob Wieckowski, discussed the process the legislature went through to get to the final “cap and trade” legislative package that was recently signed by Governor Brown. A major theme of the panel’s dialogue was how critical it is that California continue as an international leader in how it addresses climate change and balances the needs of both the economy and environment, which perhaps conflict less than many people think. In addition to discussing likely developments at the international and state level, the panelists noted the importance of developing a regional strategy for adaptation and the impacts that clean energy technology will have on the nexus between energy and water in the Bay Area.

 

Thank you again to all of the event’s speakers and its sponsors, which are listed below.

The Bay Planning Coalition is a non-profit organization well known for its advocacy and credibility in the San Francisco Bay Area corporate and environmental community. When we speak about an issue, legislators and regulators listen.” – John A. Coleman CEO

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