Net Zero Cities conference recap: ‘We’re beginning to bump right up against true scarcity’ — Steve Maxwell

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

Both locally and globally, water is going to become an increasingly large concern as it is a limited resource with ever-growing consumption, said [Steve Maxwell], who spoke at the second annual Net Zero Cities conference, an event sponsored by the city of Fort Collins and BizWest Media, publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report.

Water must be viewed as a “factor of production,” such as energy, labor or capital, Maxwell said. As it becomes more expensive it needs to be thought of as an economic factor rather than simply a basic human right.

Americans must also learn to take a more holistic view of water consumption, he said, looking not just at what comes out of the tap, but looking at what our larger water footprints contain.

On average, Americans use 100 to 150 gallons of water per person, per day, he said. But our actual water footprint is much larger. For example, Maxwell said, most people don’t think about the amount of water it takes to grow the beans that are ground up to grow the beans that are ground up to make our morning coffee, but that water contributes to a person’s water footprint.

Similarly, Maxwell said policy makers and consumers need to think about water as “one water,” including all types, even waste water and storm water, when considering use and reuse.

“People won’t do a whole lot until it impacts their wallets,” Maxwell said. “For many, water is ‘out of sight, out of mind.'”

But the time is coming when the issue can no longer be ignored, he said.

“We’re beginning to bump right up against true scarcity,” he said.

More coverage from the Northern Colorado Business Report:

New Belgium Brewing made an on-the-spot pledge of $10,000 to a new initiative that will help determine an organization’s water footprint and identify strategies to reduce water consumption and impacts on water quality.

The pledge was made during the second-annual Net Zero Cities conference, according to Judy Dorsey, executive director of the Colorado Clean Energy and Colorado Water Innovation clusters, two Fort Collins-based organizations dedicated to finding solutions to energy and water challenges.

Earlier this year, the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster began fundraising for a project called the Net Zero Water Planning Template aimed at making companies aware of their water footprints and helping find ways to reduce that footprint…

The Colorado Water Innovation Cluster has presented the idea to several groups, including the Water Smart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, and is working to garner pledges and bring together experts to refine the process.

The project’s official kick-off is schedule for winter 2013 and spring 2014.

During one of the sessions at the Net Zero conference, Jenn Vervier, director of strategy and sustainability at New Belgium, decided to pledge $10,000 to the project, making the brewery a platinum sponsor of the Net Zero Water Template, Dorsey said. New Belgium officials could not be reached for comment.

More infrastructure coverage here.

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