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Water for Texas 2017 inspires innovative thinking and water solutions

For immediate release. Contact: Media Relations at 512-463-5129

Innovative Water Supply Award winners and All-Star Rain Catcher project honored

AUSTIN – (January 26, 2017)  More than 550 attendees, speakers, and sponsors attended the Water for Texas 2017 conference on January 23-25, hosted by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in Austin, Texas. Themed as "Innovation at Work," the conference featured panels, presentations, and demonstrations aimed at water professionals and enthusiasts from around the state.

"Ensuring sufficient water supply for our future requires thoughtful planning and implementation of innovative solutions throughout the state," said TWDB Chairman Bech Bruun. "Water for Texas 2017 brought together an array of experts who play a part in this important issue, and thanks to their participation and dedication, the event was an overwhelming success."

The conference featured remarks by several well-known professionals and legislators, including Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick; Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar; International Space Station Commander Dr. Leroy Chiao; and Roy Spence, co-founder and chairman of GSD-and-M and co-founder and CEO of the Purpose Institute. In front of a packed room, a legislative panel featuring Senator Charles Perry, Representative Eddie Lucio III, and Representative Lyle Larson and moderated by Texas Tribune Co-Founder Evan Smith discussed water policy challenges and solutions and the need for innovation.

Three projects in particular that exemplify innovative thinking in the areas of conservation, education, and technology were honored as the winners of the first-ever Innovative Water Supply Awards at the January 24 awards banquet. The City of Lago Vista was named the winner of the Conservation category; Texas A&M AgriLife Research's Water University received the award in the Education category; and Enviro Water Minerals and NorrisLeal's El Paso Full Recovery Desalination Project was named the winner in the Technology category.

Also recognized at the banquet was the Leadership Montgomery County Class of 2014, recipient of the All-Star Rain Catcher Award for its Harvesting the Rain Project. The All-Star Rain Catcher Award celebrates 10 years of the TWDB's Rain Catcher rainwater harvesting competition and recognition program.

"The quality of projects and number of entrants to the Innovative Water Supply Awards are a testament to the forward-thinking, results-driven activities by municipalities and entities throughout the state," said TWDB Board Member Kathleen Jackson. "Our sincerest congratulations and thanks to the award winners for their outstanding achievements; we know their efforts will inspire others."

Attendees were invited to participate in several breakout sessions, all of which fell within the tracks of Emergency Management and Flood; Science, Technology, and Conservation; Planning and Infrastructure Financing; and Policy and Law. TWDB staff hosted several sessions and demonstrations and highlighted programs and technology available through the agency. Between sessions, attendees were encouraged to visit the exhibit booths and TWDB Interactive Room hosted by the TWDB's Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS).

"Texas' water challenges are as diverse as the regions in which they are located," said TWDB Board Member Peter Lake. "The expertise available at Water for Texas 2017 was unparalleled, and the breakout sessions were carefully selected to help drive productive discussions on key water topics for our state. Our hope is that conference attendees took away new ideas, tools, and insights that they can put to use in their cities and regions for the betterment of Texas."

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning, and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state's water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.