Staying Afloat During the Drought: Using Technology to Reshape Our Relationship to Water (KPCC Forum Series)

October 20, 2015

6:30pm - 8:00pm

Santa Monica


Moderated by
Steve Gregory, Environment and Science Editor, KPCC
Kelly Sanders, Assistant Professor, Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California
Nick Haan, Global Grand Challenges Director, Singularity University
Lorcan O’Herlihy FAIA, Founder and principal, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
David R. Pettijohn, Director of Water Resources, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Andrew Fahlund, Program Officer, California Water Foundation



Video of "Staying afloat during the drought: Using technology to reshape our relationship to water" event courtesy of Southern California Public Radio / KPCC. (p) 2015, Southern California Public Radio. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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Researchers tell us Californians needs to get used to drought. Climate models predict the state will become considerably hotter and drier in the future as greenhouse gas emissions continue to accumulate in our atmosphere. Add to that as many as 9 million more people by 2040, and California’s traditional water supplies will become increasingly taxed and unreliable. Technology will save us…right?

KPCC and the Milken Institute hosted this forum on Tuesday, October 20 to explore the potential and possible limitations of technological innovation in maximizing every last drop of existing water supplies while at the same time coming up with new ones. 

What can technology offer? And how can it help drive a fundamental rethinking of water pricing, commoditization, and public engineering help address the state’s long-term water infrastructure issues? What about incentives to support their adoption – so they can be applied speedily to urban, rural and agricultural areas? What can be learned from current conservation efforts around the world to help California manage water effectively?

Moderated by

Steve Gregory, Environment and Science Editor, KPCC. He joined KPCC’s editorial ranks in 2013. Prior to that, he was an editor at Marketplace for eight years. There, Steve oversaw coverage of Washington and the 2012 presidential race. He also produced a series of on-location interviews between host Kai Ryssdal and CEOs such as Eric Schmidt, Elon Musk, Meg Whitman, and Bob Iger as well as a special series on climate change.


Kelly Sanders, Assistant Professor, Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California. She directs the Sanders Sustainable Systems Group (S3), a multidisciplinary research group devoted to addressing the world's most critical resource management issues.

Nick Haan, Global Grand Challenges Director, Singularity University. Soon to be announced will be the winners of the Singularity University Impact Challenge in drought and water solutions. Haan’s work has focused on disaster relief, food security, environment, energy, public health, education, genetics, and information systems.

Lorcan O’Herlihy FAIA, Founder and principal, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects. Since 1990, O’Herlihy’s firm has built more than 75 projects on three continents, including mixed-use developments, university residential complexes, art galleries, and bus shelters. Previously, he worked as a designer at I.M. Pei Partners. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California.

David R. Pettijohn, Director of Water Resources, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He oversees strategic planning, watershed management, conservation, water recycling policy, and local resource development, as well as inter-agency coordination activities and legislative affairs.

Andrew Fahlund, Program Officer, California Water Foundation. Providing leadership in the ongoing development and implementation of the Water Foundation’s priorities, Fahlund works with other team members and management to craft strategy, develop projects and oversee their implementation.