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Arizona Municipal Water Users Association

water conservation arizona landscape plants
What Happens in Vegas: The World's Preeminent Water Efficiency Conference
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by Christian Delgado, Water Resource Specialist, City of Phoenix
November 2016

Christian Delgado When people think of Vegas, many things come to mind, or like me, they think "gambling, food, lights and excess."

However, underneath the surface, it is the location of one of the nation's most ambitious water conservation programs. It makes sense to hold the annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Exposition (WSI), aimed at promoting water conservation through a variety of methods, here.

This conference brought a diverse group together such as professionals, scientists, government employees, organizations, public and private institutions, policy makers and students from across the United States. It just so happened that AMWUA was offering a first-timer scholarship opportunity and I was the lucky winner, which granted me a trip to this year's WSI Conference.

As an alumni from the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University and current Water Resource Specialist with the City of Phoenix, this conference tied perfectly to my background. While at the conference, I attended many sessions that shared ideas and issues such as engaging and informative infographics, multifamily rebates and incentives, behavioral science and water conservation, media impact on water consumption, performance based incentives, reaching Spanish speaking audiences and so on. As a Spanish speaker myself, Valencia Water Company's, "Reaching the Spanish-Speaking Landscaper" really provided useful and beneficial information on engaging that segment of customers to encourage and promote conservation as well as the obstacles they faced.

WSI Mission All of these sessions aided me to better understand the multitude of outreach methods and will help craft ideas to make our water conservation program here in Phoenix even better. Additionally, the sessions also proved to be insightful as to what others around the nation were doing in regards to turf management (in more arid regions), demand management and general water conservation.

Not only did I learn from the sessions, but I also networked with other professionals from different regions. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to them and learning about their utility's history, challenges and their enjoyment in the field--it also let me reflect on why I like what I do, who I work for and with, and that we're in this together.

I also had the opportunity to attend a mega-resort efficiency tour, where we were shown the behind the scenes work that goes on in making sure the hotel is operating efficiently. This tour consisted of demonstrations of the Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center, the largest LEED-rated green building in the world, and it included an excursion into the casino kitchen, recycling center, cooling/heating system (which saves 50 million gallons of water a year) and even toured a luxury suite filled with energy efficient lighting and low water-use fixtures. It was interesting and impressive to see that the suite did not give up any of the luxury look and feel while still maintaining efficiency... it also helped that the suite was on one of the top floors with an amazing view!

All in all, I'm very thankful to AMWUA, WSI and Mr. Doug Bennett of Southern Nevada Water Authority for providing me with this one of a kind learning experience--I hope to return as a presenter in the near future!

AMWUA was pleased to partner with WaterSmart Innovations to award a full scholarship to attend the ninth annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October of 2016. The event drew more than 1,000 participants from 38 states and D.C. and from countries around the globe. Since its inception, the conference has served as an invaluable platform to advance water use efficiency and conservation.

We were excited to have Christian join us this year. We look forward to celebrating WSI's tenth anniversary by awarding another scholarship in 2017. Check back in the summer for details!

Visit WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Expo for more information.

WSI photos