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The most crucial, practical imperative cited by the panelists wasn’t preserving more wilderness; it was improving how we appraise, manage, and re-use the land—with the water on and below it—that’s already under our control.

Fresh water Robert Kelly ’87: Millennia-old underground

aquifers, often crossing state and national borders, are being drained at increasing rates. Also, many cities that draw on a single river are seeing their “run of river” decline each year. As cities grow, they must eventually outpace supply—we’re al- ready seeing Los Angeles and Arizona fighting over the Colorado River. Contrast some regions with plentiful water: how will the haves and have- nots meet on this issue?

Ingeborg Hegemann Clark ’76: Providing clean water is the most important land-use chal- lenge in the coming years. Even in water-rich New England consumption is resulting in highly stressed rivers during the summer, and in friction between suppliers and ecological scientists.

alternative of constructing a water treatment facility would cost $6 billion to $8 billion; therefore, the real value of that clean watershed is at least $6 bil- lion. Another study determined that the value of pollination by wild bees from the woods around an orchard far outweighed the value that could be de- rived from building on those woodlands.

Tavis Eddy ’93: In the western US water-rights laws are too rigid. Many of them date from the 1800s, when agricultural needs were the priority. Still today, if a farmer or rancher doesn’t use the full amount of his or her water rights, another user can claim that those rights have been abandoned—creating a “use it or lose it” mentality that almost guarantees the channel will be dewatered. I fear that when we reach the crisis point that Robert mentions, we will not have the legal or political adaptability to respond.

Fair market value Sam Butcher ’86: What we need is proper valuation of all the

ecosystem services that various lands provide. Water is one serv- ice; others include waste treatment (e.g., through water purifica- tion), carbon sequestration (e.g., in woodlands), and crop produc- tion (e.g., by wild pollinators). A New York City study estimated that the cost of preserving and protecting land that gathers and cleanses drinking water was $1 billion to $1.5 billion, while the

LAND HANDS Sam Butcher ’86, a geology major with a master’s from Brown, is the VP of operations for Goldman Environmental Consultants near Boston

Ingeborg Hegemann Clark ’76, a geology major with a master’s from Penn, is VP of ecological sciences at BSC Group, a Boston- based environmental engineering consultancy, and also teaches wetland ecology at UMass-Lowell

Tavis Eddy ’93, a geology major, completed a master’s program fo- cused on stream morphology and now works in watershed manage- ment for Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality


Providing clean water is the most important land-use challenge in the coming years. Even in water-rich New England consump- tion is resulting in highly stressed rivers during the summer, and in friction between suppliers and eco- logical scientists.

Ingeborg Clark: The need to balance property rights with the ecological value of undeveloped land will become increasingly important. Last fall Massachusetts issued “BioMap2,” a report identi- fying lands most critical to ecosystem health and biodiversity—and some of those lands are private- ly owned.

Lauren Mandel ’05: Attributing true costs to re- sources is a necessary step. But the most secure strategy for reducing use might be a combination of fair valuation with conservation education and the provision of sustainable, viable alternatives. Take agricultural land use: government subsidies determine which crops are grown and how, which is why we see large monocultures of corn, cotton, and soybeans. We need to pursue redistribution of subsidies to promote polycultures, organic meth- ods, and good hydrologic functioning.

City life

Andrea Petzel ’95: Urban agriculture is a popu- lar initiative that can help with some aspects of our massive food-system problems. I wrote some urban-ag legislation for Seattle, making it one of the first cities to allow the growing and selling of food even in single-family residential zones. It’s been estimated that food on our plate travels as much as 1,500 miles to reach us, with those transportation emissions contributing to climate change. The Puget Sound area is agriculturally rich, yet on average just 10 percent of our food is locally grown, and we’re continuing to lose farmland.

Ingeborg Clark: My town is a Right to Farm community, which means people moving in must acknowledge that occa- sional farm noises, odors, and traffic cannot be considered a nuisance.

Robert Kelly ’87, who majored in English and earned an MBA from Columbia, is the VP for commercialization at turbine manufacturer Frontier Wind in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Lauren Mandel ’05, an environmental studies major with a master’s in landscape architecture from Penn, is a project manager and de- signer for Roofscapes, a Philadelphia-based green-roof firm

Andrea Petzel ’95, an anthropology major with a master’s from the University of Denver, is senior urban planner for the City of Seattle

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