Water Conservation PPN Newsletter March 2008
by Rick Wagner

If you’re like me, you might hope that this year won’t get away from you as quickly as the last. Time seems to fly when you’re busy and having fun; why does it seem to fly faster when you’re busy and need more time?! Setting priorities and maintaining discipline to stay on top of those life priorities is a challenge. As my sister recently told me – procrastination seems to be a deeply ingrained trait in our family. So, in hopes of defeating the overwhelming inertia of my family history, we have our first Water Conservation Newsletter in recent years.

We have many opportunities with this network. The 2007 ASLA Convention in San Francisco really made that clear to me. Designing with Nature was the theme. And the desire to be good stewards of our resources could be heard in virtually every conversation I was part of or eavesdropped on! Lectures and educational sessions spanned every aspect of our profession, including green roofs, stormwater, soils, wetland restoration, sustainable site design, and therapeutic garden design and many, many more. I tried to make my way to as many lectures as possible and all were extremely informative and interesting. The breadth of issues we tackle as design consultants never ceases to amaze me.

However, as much as this conference focused on sustainability, I was somewhat dismayed that it seemed there was little discussion about water. To be sure there was a seminar about irrigating with salt water in the deserts of the Middle East. And there were numerous presentations about managing stormwater, including use of eco-roof designs and rain gardens. It was a topic touched on in many presentations. The Sustainable Sites presentation did emphasize the critical global need to husband our water resources very carefully and outlined some of their preliminary ideas. Another presentation discussed the ways in which global climate change would dramatically alter rainfall patterns, thus exacerbating the water crisis already occurring in many areas around the globe.

However I left the convention wanting more. I wanted someone like Marc Reisner, author of Cadillac Desert, to stand up out of the crowd and really give us the low down. But there was not a lot that really got as specific on water issues as I had hoped.

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I joined this PPN. And I know there are others that share similar concerns. This issue is being addressed by professions of all types. And one opportunity for this PPN is to continue to carry this message in our work and personal lives, and into our communities as we plan for the future. We can play a role in keeping this issue on the front burner as we wrestle with design issues for our projects and communities. And we can become an important resource for finding and sharing information.

The remainder of this newsletter provides a few ideas I have regarding how we can begin this process, and also some suggestions on how we can address other topics that may have brought you here. I look forward to hearing from you all. Read on for ideas on how we can share information and learn from each other!

Rick Wagner, ASLA
Chair, Water Conservation PPN

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Laurie Beth Donnachie, ASLA, Co-Chair

Matthew Mathes, ASLA, Co-Chair
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