The Water Science and Policy Center at the University of California, Riverside is hosting a public symposium on Oct. 17 to examine the challenges that agriculture and other sectors are confronting in the face of increasing water scarcity and expected climate change.

Titled “Water Policy in the West,” the symposium will address strategies needed to meet projected demands for water, a resource that is now the focus of increasing international concern.

The two-hour symposium will start at 4 p.m., and will take place at UC Riverside’s Alumni & Visitors Center, in its Alumni Meeting Rooms 1 & 2.  The center is located at 3701 Canyon Crest Dr., Riverside, Calif.  Parking for symposium attendees is free in Lot 24.

While there is no charge to attend the symposium, registration is required and can be made by emailing carol.obrien@ucr.edu.

“This symposium will focus on work that influenced water policy in the west at the federal level, and in Texas and California,” said Ariel Dinar, the director of the Water Science and Policy Center and the moderator of the symposium.  “Water scarcity problems in other western states and Texas are similar to those confronting California, but the policies differ. The symposium will allow local participants to better understand which policies may work best in California.”

The symposium will commence with a talk by Glenn Schaible, an agricultural economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — Economic Research Service. His presentation is titled “U.S. Irrigated Agriculture: Trends and Challenges in the Face of Emerging Demands and Climate Change.”

Schaible’s research program focuses on the economics of water conservation policy, irrigated agriculture, factors influencing producer technology and water management decisions, and behavioral differences in conservation practice adoption between conservation participants and non-participants.

“Population and economic growth, changing societal values for water quality and the environment, and Native American water-right claims have been the traditional drivers increasing water resource demands across the United States,” he said.  “However, energy development and expected water demand/supply impacts from climate change are placing new pressures on water allocations, heightening awareness of the importance of water conservation and the sustainability of irrigated agriculture.”

His talk will be followed by a presentation, titled “Texas State 50-year Water Plans and Policies,” by Ari Michelsen, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University and the research director of the AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso.

From Conflict to Reconciliation

An expert on integrated water resources management, valuation, conservation, markets and policy analysis, Michelsen studies the effectiveness of agricultural and residential water conservation programs, water markets and prices, and the impacts of endangered species water acquisition programs. He also has expertise in air and water quality regulatory impacts and decision support systems for river basin resource management and water policy analysis in the United States, China and Chile.

“Texas is now in its third five-year cycle of water planning,” he said. “The water plans require strategies to be developed to meet projected demands. The strategies include actions such as new reservoir construction, importation, desalination and conservation. Strategies must be included in a region’s plan and approved by the Texas Water Development Board to be eligible for state funding programs. However, the costs of proposed and approved strategies are in the billions of dollars and there has been very little state funding forthcoming.”

The final talk of the afternoon — “Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation” — will be given by Ellen Hanak, a senior policy fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and a specialist in natural resource management, including water policy, flood control, land use policy, and ecosystem management.  She is an expert also on climate change policy and public investment strategies.

“My talk will explore new approaches to managing water in an era of increasing scarcity and competing demands,” she said.  “How can available management tools, such as markets for water supply and quality and easements for flooding, improve performance and reduce costs? And what kinds of changes in water management institutions and regulations are needed to better reconcile diverse management objectives?”

Her talk will be followed by a general discussion and Q&A.

Refreshments will be served.