ARCSA 2010 Conference
by Doug Pushard
The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) held it’s 6th Annual Conference and Annual Membership Meeting in Austin, Texas in early October and the event was a big hit with attendees and vendors alike.
The events began on Saturday, October 2, with Level 200 and Level 300 workshops. The workshop provided a chance for ARCSA members to obtain accreditation; the Level 300 workshop made it’s debut to a packed classroom.
The conference started on Sunday evening with a reception and open vendor hall on Sunday evening. The official kickoff taking place on Monday, October 4 with an opening session by Texas Representation Patrick Rose who reviewed his efforts to pass a Rainwater Harvesting law in Texas last legislative session and his committed to reintroduce the bill this coming session.
The kickoff was followed by a Dr. Peter Coombes who gave an wonderful entertaining overview of the current research from Australia and he was followed up ex-Australian Premier Peter Beattie was the Premier of Queensland during the devastating drought of 2005. He and his administration implemented many innovative policies; including mandatory rainwater catchment, to see the area through the drought. Many of these policies are still in place even though the drought has passed. Dr. Coombes and Peter Beattie had different views of the successfulness of some these policies which provided insight and entertainment for the attendees. A special thanks goes out to Jason Kerrigan and Bluescope for their assistance in getting the Australians over to this year’s conference.
Tuesday’s kickoff was provided by Dr. Robert Glennon, author of Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters and his recent book Unquenchable, where he reviewed our current wasteful water ways and discussed recent changes he is beginning to see in our managing of our most precious resource – water. He applauded our efforts as part of the solution to American’s overall water management solution. The opening session was followed up over 20 different presentations. This year’s conference provided three tracks for the attendees to choose from providing a huge challenge to pick which session to see. Fortunately, most of the sessions were taped and will be available to view online.
This year’s event also included a Master Gardener Track and was advertised to the Texas Master Gardeners. Presentations on this track included topics like: a panel presentation on Rainwater Harvesting for Livestock by Benjamin Sojka, Sarah Lawson and Brent Clayton; Irrigation Best Practices by Dan Ransom; Landscape Design with Catchment in Mind by Nate Downey who had his new book on hand; and Making Water Run Uphill and Simple Sizing Calculations by Justin Mechell. Special thanks go to Billy Kniffen for promoting this topic the local Master Gardeners.
Vessela Monta, Executive Director of International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland keynoted the Wednesday morning session and reviewed IRHA’s impressive efforts at promoting rainwater catchment around the globe. A special thanks goes to Hari Krishna for recruiting Vessala. After Vessala presentation an ARCSA Membership meeting and Elections of officers were held (see John Hammerstrom’s Letter from the President). Bob Boulware, past-President of ARCSA kicked off the membership meeting reviewing the accomplishments of the past year.
The conference was largest and most information packed conference ever and drew hundreds of folks from another the country and around the world. Along with all the content was a interesting back-and-forth between the Australians and the Americans. Both had competing views of the value of first flush devices. A long time attendee of the conference Anitra Accetturo, Water Conservation Specialist, ARCSA-AP from Bellingham, Washington stated after the conference, “I've attended ARCSA conferences since 1995 and the wealth of information at each of these from across the country and world has enabled me to implement rainwater catchment education and policies into our local government as an additional source of water supply”. They keep getting better and better!
The conference included two fun-packed tours. Monday evening included a private tour of the fabulous Lady Byrd Johnson Wildlife Center and ended at the Salt Lick for some finger-licking good Texas BBQ. One of the interesting moments was a short stop at a local convenience store to purchase all its refreshments prior to arriving at dinner since the Salt Lick is a non-alcoholic establishment. Wednesday afternoon’s tour featured stops at the LCRA Building; the local Animal Hospital; H.E.B. store which features a system capable of capturing over 28,000 gallons; The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless which features a 26,000 gallon catchment system where the rainwater is used mainly for toilet flushing; Zilker Gardens and Las Casa Verdes Homes subdivision.
Also at this year’s conference was both a Level 200 and a Level 300 course. Both courses were offered the weekend before the conference started and were a great attraction.
We had more exhibit space and more vendors than ever before. Special thanks goes out to our conference sponsors. This year’s Platinum sponsors were Containment Solutions, RainHarvest Systems and RMS and our Gold sponsors were Brae, Bushman, Fiber Technology Corporation, RainTech and Xerxes Corporation.
Randy Kauk commented on the show, “the 2010 ARCSA Conference in Austin was once again a great success with trade show booths from all of the industry's leading suppliers, informative break-out sessions and plenty of opportunities for members and attendees to network. Congratulations to ARCSA for putting together a really great show. “
Conference attendees are to download all the presentations from the ARCSA website. Others will be able to download the presentations off the ARCSA website for a small fee.