Water, a seemingly unending resource, plays a significant role in our lives here on the Palouse yet the infrastructure needed to maintain access to our homes, universities and businesses is often out of sight and therefore, out of mind. You wake up, shower, make your coffee, wash your car, feed your family, flush the toilet, do your laundry. But have you thought about where our water comes from or where your wastewater goes?

Oct. 21 is an important water day for us here. First, it’s our 18th Annual Palouse Basin Water Summit. It also coincides with the Value of Water Campaign’s annual Imagine a Day Without Water, where people across the United States will engage in opportunities to learn about our nation’s water systems and the hard work that goes into ensuring a day without water doesn’t become a reality for your community.

In the United States, most water systems are more than a century old. Aging infrastructure, intensified weather events, and a lack of investment have kept more than 2 million Americans from accessing safe and reliable water and wastewater services. According to the 2021 Annual Value of Water Index, a reliable water supply is the highest federal priority for voters and locally, we appreciate that our communities and universities are taking responsibility for and investing in our water today and tomorrow.

Within the Palouse Basin, both our communities, universities, and the Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee are working hard on our water infrastructure needs including identifying new supplies, implementing robust conservation programs and building more water awareness.

Water is the lifeline of our Palouse communities. Investing in our water and wastewater infrastructure will ensure you have a fresh glass of water each morning, firefighters have the ability to fight annual wildfires, hospitals can stay safe and sanitary, and our universities and businesses can keep humming along.

We know how important water is. When you imagine a day without water this year, think about how central water is to your daily life. It’s up to us to keep the conversation going and ensure that the systems that deliver this valuable resource are reliable for generations to come.

Our 2021 Virtual Summit will feature Amy Vickers, a nationally recognized and award-winning water conservation and efficiency expert, engineer, and author of the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation: Homes, Landscapes, Businesses, Industries, Farms.

For more than 25 years, Amy has been actively engaged across the United States, Canada, and overseas as an independent consultant, public speaker and policy adviser on nearly every facet of water use, conservation, efficiency and drought response. Described by many as “the bible of water conservation,” her book has received wide acclaim and is now in its fourth printing.

“By understanding where and how water is used and then applying effective efficiency technologies and practices, we can achieve substantial water savings and other benefits in our homes, on lawns and landscapes, at businesses, institutions, factories and on farms,” notes Vickers.

Amy’s commitment to water conservation is lifelong and enduring. Early in her career she attained national attention as the originator and author of America’s first water efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures, which were adopted under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992, setting a national water conservation milestone. Now more than two decades later, this measure is saving the United States an estimated 7 billion gallons of water daily — enough water to supply about 70 million Americans. As those water savings continue to grow in the years ahead, so too will the water flowing through countless rivers, lakes, and aquifers. We are incredibly excited to have Amy joining us this year. With the current drought in the Pacific Northwest and heightened awareness here locally around water, the Palouse Basin Water Summit Board felt strongly that our focus should be on water conservation and increased water awareness.

The Summit will also feature local water experts and scientists who will share information about local water resources including Korey Woodley, PBAC executive manager. Additionally, Robin Nimmer, senior hydrogeologist with Alta Science and Engineering, will discuss her work on identifying additional water supplies within the basin.

Water is a wicked problem to address but we know that we have wicked smart people on the Palouse that believe a better water future is possible. Please join us on the 21st to continue this important community conversation.

For more information and to register for the Zoom webinar, visit: bit.ly/3p4euSu, www.palousebasinwatersummit.org or www.palousebasin.org.

Kimmell is a former Latah County commissioner and serves as regional business manager for Avista Corp. He is a member of the Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee and co-founder of the Palouse Basin Water Summit. Kimberling is a former Moscow city councilman, owns Kimberling Insurance and is co-founder of the Palouse Basin Water Summit.

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