With each issue, Trib+Water brings you an interview with experts on water-related issues. Here is this week's subject:
Carlos Rubinstein is chairman of the Texas Water Foundation.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Trib+Water: Tell me about the Texas Water Foundation’s objectives and your role as chairman.
Carlos Rubinstein: The main goal is to bring increased awareness about our sources of water and how we use our water. I hope we can achieve a better appreciation for it. All of us on the board are deeply committed to water in Texas.
Trib+Water: Tell me about the biggest challenges for The Texas Water Foundation.
Rubinstein: The biggest challenge when it comes to water – not only for the foundation, but for all of us in Texas – is that we tend to think about water in the moment. When we have a flood, we think about the devastating impact it has. If we’re having a drought, we tend to think about the impact the lack of water is going to cause.
There is a need for an increased awareness level. For those of us who have been involved in water planning, we think about what the future growth patterns of Texans are going to mean for water use. The challenge is figuring out how we can increase the level of awareness and recognition of managing water in a better way and preserving it in a better way, whether it’s groundwater depletion or the wasteful use of surface water or groundwater so that again, it can meet our needs.
The challenge is getting people to continue to have this discussion, when we’re not having a drought, when we’re not having a flood. That requires constant advocacy for the preservation of the region’s resources. I will say, though, that that’s increasing. The ability to have that discussion in Texas has increased tremendously and the level of awareness continues to evolve.
The foundation has conducted surveys about whether or not people actually know where their sources of water are coming from and we also do advocacy work and promote educational efforts.
Trib+Water: Are there certain issues or bills the foundation is following closely this session?
Rubinstein: Any time the Legislature is in session, we try and see what’s happening with water. It’s still early. The role the foundation plays is to serve as a resource to educate on conservation issues.
The foundation hosts the Texas Water Day at the Capitol to increase awareness. That is coming up on March 22 at the Capitol, and we hope to have dialogue about water issues. In the fall, we have legislative bus tours and statewide workshops. We serve as a resource to increase awareness so that we can better inform and instruct the top water discussions to be had at the Capitol.
Trib+Water: What are some goals and plans moving forward to promote public awareness?
Rubinstein: We have a very active 2017 planned out, in large part thanks to Carole Baker and Elizabeth Fazio. We’ll have Texas Water Day at The Capitol. We will be having the Rainmaker Award Dinner on May 16 in honor of the champion in Texas on water issues.
Later in the year, we’ll have our third Water Texas Films contest. It will be launching in April. We also have several statewide workshops coming up in the fall.