Wallace Stegner Center to Focus on the West’s Water Issues for 22nd Annual Symposium


University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Building on campus on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015

By Ashley Baker

Each year, the Wallace Stegner Center at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law hosts a symposium that addresses a current environmental issue. This year is the center’s 22nd annual symposium with the theme “Water in the West: Untapped Solutions.”

“The goal is generally to highlight an important law related environmental or public lands issue related to Utah or the West,” said Robin Craig from the Stegner Center.

The center hosts the annual convention to introduce topics surrounding nature and its conservation to the public in a multi-faceted manner. The symposium typically draws in speakers from around the world who are authorities on the subject.

The forum will feature problems such as climate disruption and demographic change, with a focus on how they impact the availability and accessibility of water in the West. Speakers will facilitate discussion about these issues by providing innovative solutions. The symposium will delve into four more specific topics within the issue — changing science and technology, infrastructure, recycling wastewater and changing current behaviors related to water usage.

“It’s a conference on water, and we haven’t done one on water,” Craig said. “We like to bring in people who’ve done creative things to focus on solutions to current problems.”

One of the keynotes will discuss their work with farmers in California.

“The farmers have large water rights to farm their crops. This speaker worked a deal with them and they’ve agreed to leave the wetlands alone to assist migratory birds,” said Craig.

Another one of the noteworthy contributors started a grassroots effort in Alaska to protect and restore the Yukon river.

“We’re hoping it’s a positive and uplifting discussion about the future of the West’s water,” said Craig.

The symposium is open to the public. Tickets range from $50 to $150 before March 10 and $75 to $175 after.

The speakers and schedule are detailed on the Stegner Center’s website.

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