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2016 WaterSmart Innovations with CWH Board member, Paul Brown

The ninth annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition was held from October 5th to 7th in Las Vegas and hosted over 1,000 participants from a wide range of water-related disciplines. The multidisciplinary program included panel discussions, workshops, comprehensive professional sessions and keynote addresses by U.S. Representative Dina Titus and the Council for Watershed Health's own noted urban water efficiency expert, Paul R. Brown.

After the WaterSmart Innovations conference we caught up with Paul Brown for a brief interview:

1. What is your current title and area of work?

I am currently the President of Paul Redvers Brown Inc. and providing program management services for the 150-MGD regional recycled water program being evaluated by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. I also recently completed an assignment for the CA Department of Water Resources as deputy program manager on the biological assessment for the ESA Section 7 consultation for the California WaterFix.

2. When did you first become interested in water?

I was passionate about water from the day I joined Camp Dresser & McKee Inc. (now CDM Smith) in May 1975. Water infrastructure planning, science, and engineering was our founders’ original mission and purpose. I worked for CDM Smith from 1975 to 2013, and during that time I was lucky enough to participate in many significant water projects and programs across the country. They included the first major U.S. privatized water treatment plant for Scottsdale, Arizona; the Seattle Public Utilities Tolt Water Treatment Facility, and the Orange County Groundwater Replenishment System.

3. In your opinion, what is a critical factor in successful integrated resource planning and development?

I have been involved with intergrated resources planning in Southern Califonia since serving as the consulting team project manager for MWD’s first IRP for Southern California published in 1996. Since then, I have continued to appreciate the importance of thinking about water management in very broad, holistic terms. Historically, utilities planned for their own service area needs with an inwardly-focused approach on the specific funtion they provided (like water, wastewater, stormwater, or flood control). Today we see not only a broader planning approach but also the physical integration of water management infrastructure (one water solutions) bringing together systems and new technologies that radically improve water use efficiency. The Groundwater Replenishment System in Orange County is a great example of that change. That’s what I see as the key to success – not simply integrating our planning processes – but implementing the technologies that allow us to connect the infrastructure itself and build links to the people who use it.

4. What is the main take-away from your presentation at the WaterSmart Innovations conference?

In my keynote address at the 2016 WaterSmart Innovations conference, I wanted to explore the relationship between the large-scale infrastructure programs I have been working on for decades and the micro-scale initiatives that are changing the fabric of urban landscape and water management. These two efforts, one top-down and the other bottom-up, must also be integrated in our thinking, planning, and public investments. I talked about some of the barriers that may be slowing that process down and made some suggestions regarding how that might change. The most important, in my mind, is re-engaging with citizens and eliminating “utility invisibility” in our communities. For me, behavioral changes in terms of water’s meaning, presense, and value in our lives everyday is fundamental to sustainable water management.

5. When did you become a Board Member at CWH and why?

I have been a supporter and admirer of the Council for Watershed Health since the early 2000’s, shortly after getting involved in the City of Los Angeles Integrated Plan for the Wastewater Program (IPWP) in October 1999. Those initial efforts have grown into what is now the One Water LA Plan. That was the first time I had an opportunity to work directly with Dorothy Green. So when I was asked to consider serving on the CWH Board many years later, I welcomed the chance to contribute to the legacy of such an important regional institution.

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