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Water/Climate Briefing Archive

2012-2013 Water/Climate Briefings – Dynamics of Water in an Urban Ecosystem

April 23, 2013 – The Future of Arizona’s Forests: Anticipating the effects of climate change and fire on water sustainability

Arizona’s forests are not only mountain playgrounds for recreation and tourism but also sustain critical ecosystem functions such as water storage, filtration, and release for downstream uses.

In the face of climate change, forest ecosystems are being stressed from higher temperatures and lower precipitation, making them more vulnerable to insect infestations and more frequent and intense wildfires.

The impacts of climate and landscape changes and wildfire include increased erosion, sedimentation, and warmer water temperatures, which in turn affect municipal water supplies and riparian habitats.

Please join us as we explore the critical research and policy priorities regarding the interaction between Arizona’s climate, forests, and water.


Erik Nielsen
Assistant Professor
School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Northern Arizona University

Thomas Sisk
Olajos-Goslow Professor of Environmental Science and Policy
Northern Arizona University

Abe Springer
Professor of Geology
Northern Arizona University

Dave White
Moderator and Co-Director
Decision Center for a Desert City
Arizona State University


Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]


DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – April 23, 2013 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

March 6, 2013 – Environment and Water: Decision-support Tools for Managing Ecosystem Services in Arizona

Humans benefit from a multitude of resources and services that are supplied by ecosystems.

ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability is undertaking research on the contribution of Arizona’s ecosystems to sustainable economic growth, job creation, and human wellbeing in Arizona.

Ecosystem services being studied include water quality and quantity, erosion control, fire regulation, recreation and tourism, grazing, and disease regulation. The discussion will highlight the new and innovative scientific methods being developed to assess ecosystem services and how potential changes in land use would affect the present and future delivery and value of these ecosystem services.


Ann Kinzig
Professor, School of Life Sciences
Co-Director, ecoServices Group
Chief Research Strategist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Charles Perrings
Professor of Environmental Economics
Co-Director, ecoServices Group
School of Life Sciences


Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]


DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – March 6, 2013 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

February 27, 2013 – The Dynamics of Energy and Water for Central Arizona Agriculture

Water, energy, and policy are intimately linked in the West.

Irrigated agriculture is particularly sensitive to changes in the source and price of energy, with implications for water demand, land use and economic activity in Central Arizona.

  • In what ways is Central Arizona agriculture sensitive to changing energy policy?
  • How can irrigation districts and farmers cope with the dynamics of energy and water prices?
  • What might different energy scenarios mean for the viability of central Arizona agriculture?


Brian Betcher, General Manager, Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District
Ed Gerak, General Manager, Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District
Katosha Nakai, Manager, Tribal Relations and Policy Development, Business Planning and Governmental Programs, Central Arizona Project
Ron Rayner, Partner/Manager, A Tumbling T Ranches
Karen Smith, Fellow, Grand Canyon Institute


Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 3:00-4:30p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]


DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – February 27, 2013 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

November 14, 2012 – Dynamics of Water in Urban Ecosystems: Effluent for the Environment

The reuse of effluent, otherwise known as reclaimed or recycled water, is becoming more and more of a commodity as water resource manager’s deal with tightening water budgets. It has many uses including groundwater recharge, cooling for industrial uses and irrigation for crops, public parks and golf courses. Now, it is even being considered as a drinking water supply in places using groundwater recharge/recovery or “toilet-to-tap” technology.

With its many beneficial uses possibly one of the most important is its utilization to support natural environments. Across the country, water that was once considered a nuisance is now being sought after for environmental stream flows and projects such as the Tres Rios wetlands in Phoenix and the Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, both of which create wildlife habitat using effluent.


Peter Fox, Ph.D., Professor, ASU School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
Tom Hildebrandt, Wildlife Program Manager (retired), AZ Game & Fish, Central Arizona Regions
Bruce Prior, Hydrologist, City of Tucson Water Department
Robert F. Upham, P.E., Project Manager, Water Resources Division, City of Phoenix


Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 12:00–1:30 p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]

DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – November 14, 2012 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

October 10, 2012 – Dynamics of Water in Urban Ecosystems: Green Infrastructure

The term green infrastructure has been used to refer to everything from green roofs to more ecologically friendly stormwater management systems and large networks of natural areas. What these different usages have in common is a basic recognition that our built environment and our ecological environment are connected and interrelated.

Green infrastructure planning is an approach that can improve urban infrastructure to maintain healthy waters, provide multiple environmental benefits, and support sustainable communities.


Mounir El Asmar, Assistant Professor, ASU School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Engineering
Irene Ogata, Urban Landscape Manager, City of Tucson
Kelli Sertich, Floodplain Management and Services Division Manager, Maricopa County
Ken Vonderscher, Deputy Director, Parks and Recreation for the City of Phoenix


Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 12:00–1:30 p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]

DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – October 10, 2012 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

September 5, 2012 – Dynamics of Water in an Urban Ecosystem

In our first Water/Climate Briefing for 2012-2013, DCDC sets the stage with a broad-based discussion of future topics related to this year’s theme: The dynamic role of water within urban ecosystems in relation to the management of cities and regions of Arizona. Our panelists will explore:

  • Effluent and Environmental Systems
  • Impact of Climate Change on Riparian Systems
  • Stormwater: Green Infrastructure Systems
  • Quantifying Water Use for Ecosystem Services
  • Water Use Within Public Features
  • The Impact of Environmental Stresses on Water Quality

We hope to provide opportunities for researchers, water resource managers, and the public to gain insight to the challenges of water within our urban places and ecosystems.


Dan Childers, Moderator and Professor, ASU School of Sustainability
Juliet Stromberg, Associate Professor, ASU School of Life Sciences
Aimée Conroy, Deputy Water Services Director, City of Phoenix
Sarah Porter, Executive Director, Audubon Arizona


Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 12:00–1:30 p.m.


Decision Center for a Desert City, 21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe [Map]

DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – September 5, 2012 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

2011-2012 Water/Climate Briefings

The Psychology and Economics of Environmental Decision Making

October 26, 2011 – The Psychology of Environmental Decision Making

Presenting research ranging from human environment interactions and water resource governance to aspects of human nature that constitute potential obstacles to solving problems of sustainability or that might facilitate our ability to make sustainable decisions.This year’s DCDC Water/Climate Briefing theme focuses on a branch of behavioral research situated at the intersection of psychology and economics. Our researchers are exploring the mental processes that shape our choices, behaviors and attitudes, and employ both evolutionary and sociocultural models to understand environmental decision making.


Susan Ledlow, PhD, School of Sustainability
Kelli Larson, PhD, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and the School of Sustainability

November 30, 2011 – Keynote Address – Our Energy-Efficiency Paradox: Psychological Barriers to ‘No-Brainer’ Solutions

Of all environmentally-relevant decisions, the adoption of energy-efficiency technologies would appear to be a ‘no-brainer,’ yet these solutions are vastly underused. In this talk, Dr. Weber will highlight the psychological reasons for this paradox and suggest ways in which we can harness cognitive limitations to spark greater adoption of win-win solutions.

Keynote Speaker:

Elke U. Weber
Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business, Columbia University
Director, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Earth Institute
Director, Center for the Decision Sciences

December 6, 2011 – Cotton, Condos, and Climate: Agriculture and Arizona’s Water Future

Decision-makers in Arizona are comforted by the idea that water can be diverted from farms to cities in the face of future water scarcity. The assumption has been that historic trends in farm retirement will continue into the future, releasing water for urban use. However, rapid changes in economic, environmental and policy conditions now challenge this assumption.

A panel of agriculture and water resource practitioners and professionals will discuss these and other issues associated with agriculture, urban growth and Arizona’s future demand for water.


Paco Ollerton, Cotton Grower
Jim Holway, Director, Western Lands and Communities, a Lincoln Institute of Land Policy-Sonoran Institute Joint Venture
Brian Betcher, Manager, Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District, Pinal County
Joe Sigg, Director of Government Relations, Arizona Farm Bureau


School of Sustainability graduate students from the workshop, “Adaptation, Resilience and Transformation.”

April 17, 2012 – The Economics of Water Demand: The Dynamics of Water Use and Price

Price is often suggested as a simple straightforward tool to encourage people to be more efficient in how they use water. However, the economics of water demand are not that simple. Water is used for many purposes. Water is used to meet the basic necessity of life, consumption and hygiene. Water is used to create an atmosphere that suits our lifestyles, landscapes and pools, and perhaps long hot showers. Water is used for economic gain, from creating places attractive to customers to washing silicon chips. The sale of water is also used to finance the infrastructure and costs associated with making water available to a community. Each of these water uses has its own economic dynamics based on behaviors and motivation for water use which can vary among the consumers in each category. At the same time, the economics for each of these water uses are related, changes in one can affect the other. Thus, decision making about the price of water is not as clear as it may initially appear. The goal of this climate briefing is to increase the awareness of the complexities associated with the price of water by facilitating a discussion about the differences and relationships that exist in the economics of different water uses.


V. Kerry Smith, Regents Professor, W. P. Carey School of Business, Department of Economics
Doug Frost, Principal Planner, Water Services Department, City of Phoenix
Gary Niekerk, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Intel Corporation

April 25, 2012 – Annual DCDC Poster Symposium

The DCDC Poster Symposium is one of the highlights of each Spring semester. Student posters present the results of various research projects conducted by students enrolled the Internship for Science-Practice Integration (ISPI) and the Community of Graduate Scholars (CGS).