Desert Waters International Symposium Southern Arizona to South Australia

April 2, 1:00pm-5:00pm
April 3, 8:00am-1:30pm

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
ENR2 Agnese Nelms Haury Auditorium, Room S107

In many regions of the world, protecting water for natural areas is an urgent matter. There are many ideas and potential lessons to be learned from our international neighbors to help Arizona re-frame the link between healthy watersheds and healthy, thriving businesses and communities.

  • How do we balance social, economic and environmental demands for water within the capacity of the water resources?
  • How can we consider and provide for the water needs of water- dependent ecosystems?


  • General Registration – $25.00
  • Student (UA) – No Charge
  • Student (other) – $25.00
  • Faculty and Staff – $25.00


Program Overview

The program will include a series of panels on the policy, economic and environmental context of the Colorado River Basin in the U.S. and Mexico, and the Murray-Darling River Basin in Australia; approaches and lessons learned for securing water for natural areas; water allocation planning; indigenous perspectives; and more.

The Desert Waters International Symposium is dedicated to Rodney Lewis, who committed much of his life to building a better future for people and communities in Arizona and beyond. As General Counsel to the Gila River Indian Community, Mr. Lewis negotiated the largest water rights settlement in history for his Tribe – the Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act of 2004. He successfully represented the Crow Tribe of Montana and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in California as well, resulting in the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010 and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Water Rights Settlement Act of 2016. Mr. Lewis tirelessly provided support, expertise, and friendship to countless individuals and causes, and we are honored to show respect to his legacy.



Keynote Speakers On Tuesday 4/2:

Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, Gila River Indian Community

Brian Richter – President, Sustainable Waters

Michael Hanemann – Julie A. Wrigley Chair in Sustainability, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Other Confirmed Speakers:

Amy McCoy – Martin and McCoy LLC

Bailey Kennett – Desert Rivers Program Manager, Arizona Land and Water Trust

Benjamin Fee – Principle, FeeZable Solutions, Adelaide, South Australia, and Higher Degree by Research Candidate, Centre for Global Food and Resources, University of Adelaide

Brad Udall -Senior Water & Climate Research Scientist, Colorado Water Institute Colorado State University

Daryl Vigil – Chairman of the Board, Colorado River Ten Tribes Partnership

David Groenfeldt – Founder and Director, Water-Culture Institute

Deborah Nias – Chief Executive Officer, Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group Ltd

Elia Tapia – Research Specialist, Senior, University of Arizona, Water Resources Research Center

Grant Rigney -Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority

James Callegary – Hydrologist, US Geological Survey

John Barret –  Land and Water Program Director, Arizona Land and Water Trust

Karl Flessa – Professor of Geosciences, University of Arizona

Karletta Chief – Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, University of Arizona

Kathy Jacobs – Director, University of Arizona, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions

Matt Payne, WestWater Research

Peter Duggin  – South Australian Board Representative of the National Irrigators Council to the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board, and Presiding Member of the Renmark Irrigation Trust.

Sharon MegdalDirector, University of Arizona, Water Resources Research Center

Tim Thomure,  Director, Tucson Water

Tom Rooney – Group CEO and President, Waterfind Australia.

Contact Information

For questions regarding conference content, contact conference organizers Louise Misztal or Ashley Hullinger.

Convening Partners