The Future of Water

Regional Collaboration on
Shared Climate, Coastlines, and Watersheds

March 27 - 28, 2017
The Mill Conference Center at Mississippi State University
Starkville, Mississippi

One of the most urgent challenges facing the Southeast and the nation today is ensuring an adequate supply and quality of water for human consumption, industry, agriculture, tourism, environment, and quality of life.

Increased climate variability and water demand are bringing these issues to the forefront. The 2012 drought caused agricultural losses exceeding $5.2 billion in Texas alone. The Mississippi-Arkansas Delta, one of the world’s most fertile agricultural areas, is experiencing severe declines in aquifers used for irrigation. Water supplies to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, which produces 10 percent of the U.S. oyster harvest each year, are being reduced by drought and upstream demand. And sea-level rise is threatening coastal communities and ecosystems.


This conference is designed to stimulate communication and collaboration toward sustainable and resilient water resource management in the Southeast. The goals of this interactive conference are to:


Identify the dominant economic, community, and ecosystem challenges to sustainable water resources in the southeastern U.S.


Identify policy and practice paths forward that will maximize the health and vitality of the region through water stewardship.


Engage the best and brightest scientists and engineers of the Southeastern Conference with other national and international experts in water resources.

Broad Appeal

This is an exciting opportunity to interact with colleagues from across disciplines to discuss cutting edge water resource science and opportunities for collaborative research. The intersection of science, engineering, and policy are of pressing interest to practitioners, academics, and policy shapers alike. There are gaps in our basic understanding of water resource issues, such as water availability and quality, the impact of sea-level rise and climate change, and evolving human practices and policies that shape the earth’s water system. In recognition of these issues, Mississippi State will host the SEC Academic Conference on The Future of Water: Regional Collaborations on Shared Climate, Coastlines, and Watersheds to facilitate a discussion of the water-related issues in the southeast. By drawing from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the conference will relate these water issues to climate change, water quantity and quality, the built environment, coastal issues, and ecosystem function in order to enable sustainable ecosystems, economies, and communities.


The conference will be held in Starkville, Mississippi over a two-day period. It will cover four overarching themes 1) shared inland waters and aquifers, 2) shared coastlines, 3) shared climate, and 4) regional policy. Economic and community implications associated with each theme will be explored. Participants, consisting of national and SEC experts, will identify key research and public policy needs at the national, regional, and local levels. Speakers will include nationally and internationally recognized academics, authors, federal officials, as well as economists, ecologists, engineers, and planners who work on the leading edge of this critical resource issue. Students, under the guidance of university faculty, will compete in the Campus Water Matters Challenge.. Regional research institutes, such as the USGS Water Resources Research Institute, will serve pivotal roles in conference organization and execution. Program officers from national and regional agencies will be invited to participate and help participants develop winning grants.