Seeley Summit Adds Economist to Program

May 22, 2014 - 11:02

Ron Griffin, a resource economist at Texas A&M University, will discuss the roots of the water scarcity problem during the 2014 Seeley Summit.

The continuing drought in California and other parts of the country highlights a national trend affecting many in the green industry — the increasing frequency and magnitude of water scarcity. Globally, water demand is predicted to outstrip availability by 40 percent in 2030. The 2014 Seeley Summit is titled “Water: Horticulture’s Next Game Changer?” and provides an opportunity to learn and develop a multi-faceted approach to tackling this issue.

The majority of green industry businesses are located in close proximity to urban centers. Expansion of urban areas through suburban development has brought both expanding business opportunities and increased competition for water resources. This applies not only to groundwater, but also to public surface water, such as lakes and rivers.

Without protective legislation, green industry firms are often expected to forfeit their current use of potable water for urban/suburban consumption. Even with such legislation, amounts permitted for production purposes likely will decline as demand increases for potable water by expanding urban centers. This has already occurred in Florida, where initial permitted amounts 12 years ago have been decreased by as much as 40 percent in some areas. Just 15 years ago, nursery and greenhouse irrigation was unregulated in these same areas.

The green industry, in particular, can play a very active role and lead by example in working toward water conservation and water quality preservation during discussions on water resource policy development. Without active involvement, green industry firms will not get policies that are equitable to them and instead will be left out in the cold.

Ron Griffin, a resource economist at Texas A&M University, will discuss the roots of the water scarcity problem —primarily deficient policy signals for water's innate value — and implications for the future policy environment in which water is allocated and priced. Part of the message concerns needed policy change, which can be anticipated by water users, and part concerns the future of water pricing and availability.

This year’s Seeley will take place June 22 to 24, 2014 in Lisle, Ill. The Summit price for hotel rooms is available only through June 1; reserve your spot now by visiting www.seeleysummit.com.

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