Nexus water food energy experts converge on San Antonio for forum and to build a strategic planning roadmap.
Following on success of an earlier water technology roadmap planning effort in San Antonio (previous water technology article here) facilitated by the National Science Foundation funded RCN-CE3SAR (see below), this newest planning effort focuses on the nexus water food energy. This time the Texas A&M University System and Area 41 co-hosted with Texas A&M University-San Antonio the Forum. Centering on the Nexus Initiative of Texas A&M University, the two-day event held November 17-18, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas, focused on expanding the scope of the Nexus water food energy dialogue. Topics included identifying and responding to local, state, national and global challenges and opportunities relative to water resources in research, education, outreach and policy implementation. Other topics included holistic solutions to water security in Texas, and engaging stakeholders at home and worldwide in dialogues that will lead to resolution and prevention of conflict over WEF Nexus-related resources. WEF Nexus Initiative partners include The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M University, Area 41, Dwight Look College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Geosciences, George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Topics of the forum included identifying and responding to local, state, national and global challenges and opportunities relative to water resources in research, education, outreach and policy implementation. Other topics included holistic solutions to water security in Texas, and engaging stakeholders on Nexus water food energy at home and worldwide in dialogues that will lead to resolution and prevention of conflict over WEF Nexus-related resources.
The forum was timely because Texas and the world at large face a 40 percent gap between the capacity to supply water and demand. Competition for water usage between food production, energy and domestic needs provides a compelling nexus globally. A striking example is found in San Antonio, Texas, where a three-way demand on water resources for agriculture, hydraulic fracturing in energy production, and general domestic use pulls at a supply limited by natural availability and need for environmental flows in the region’s streams.
The forum drew from a broad range of stakeholders, representing all aspects of the Nexus water food energy community. The Water Forum Technology Roadmap charrette brought together invited thought leaders on nexus to define the most critical problems facing nexus and technology from the perspective of human, education, policy and legal dimensions. Participants held a common interest in accelerating an understanding of nexus and related technologies. The National Science Foundation-supported Texas Research Coordination Network, RCN-CE3SAR served as an independent facilitator.
Nexus Water Food Energy Conclusion
The key take-away message from the Forum was clear: a global effort will be required to successfully bridge the gap between water availability and water demand. This effort must include work in policy, technology, consumer science, education and capacity building. Additionally, Nexus water food energy efforts must focus on building a global network of cooperation toward establishing a platform to share knowledge and data that will identify and help researchers and resource managers respond to Nexus water food energy related state, national, and global challenges and opportunities.
Recommendations on Nexus Water Food Energy
- Education and outreach is needed to develop understanding and support by the public for work on the nexus.
- Basic principles of the nexus, as well as significance for future economic and environmental sustainability, need to be taught to students through formal and informal education means starting as early as possible and continuing through higher education.
- Technical and higher education must adapt their models for curricula development and research more quickly and place higher value on solution-based research and public-private-university partnerships to address nexus subject areas, related technologies, and workforce needs that accompany technology advancement. Participants believed that without such change, universities will become even less effective at meeting the needs for education of the real-life workforce and become even farther removed from the very technologies universities are helping create.
- Because water, energy and food program responsibility is spread across many different work groups, agencies, colleges, departments, and other institutional divisions in government, industry and universities, work must be initiated to foster communication among responsible parties and coordinate action in spite of fragmented responsibility.
- Because participants believe the State’s current legal and regulatory framework fails to fully reflect basic science underlying the lifecycle of water and use by humans, they recommended education and outreach to create greater levels of awareness about the nexus, and for water in particular, to help pave the way for science-based policy change.
- Universities and private research organizations should play a role as independent brokers for demonstration of nexus-related technologies to accelerate commercialization and application.
RCN-CE3SAR is the National Science Foundation funded Research Coordination Network for Climate, Energy, Environment and Engagement in Semiarid Regions. RCN-CE3SAR is composed of the following institutions: Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio; Conrad Blucher Institute, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi; Center for Research on Environmental Sustainability in Semi-Arid Coastal Areas, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Sub-Tropical Research Center, University of Texas-Brownsville/University of Texas-Pan American; Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University; Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Binational Center, Texas A&M International University; Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas A&M University-College Station; Texas Center for Climate Studies, Texas A&M University-College Station; Institute for Science, Technology & Public Policy, Texas A&M University-College Station; Center for Housing and Urban Development, Texas A&M University-College Station.