Rain Cloud Computing: How Technology Can Help Solve California’s Perennial Water Woes
Willem Buiter, the chief economist at megabank Citigroup, says that water isn’t just the new oil, it’s more important than oil: “Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.”

While massive investments to develop and transport water supplies grab headlines in California, there’s a huge business opportunity that’s rarely talked about: Using technological innovation to stretch existing supplies further. Imagine a world in which local water rights could be traded on a daily or even hourly basis, lowering prices while managing supplies for long-term sustainability. The technology exists, and entrepreneurs such as Mark Kram are bringing it to market.

California has been in drought for ten of the past 13 years, and shrinking water supplies are in the news everywhere. In Santa Barbara County, several cities are mulling how to carve up a dwindling Lake Cachuma and whether to institute water use restrictions. In Ventura County, strawberry farmers are bracing for a trickle that will hurt crop yields. Further up the coast, the groundwater basin that led Paso Robles to become a nationally known wine producing region is running dry and causing lawsuits that could cost tens of millions of dollars.But with new sensor technologies and wireless communications
tools, groundwater use can be tracked in real time from a smartphone. With powerful cloud computing, the right algorithms could calculate optimal water pricing for all users in water basin based on the supply and the economics and rights of the users. Farmers, meanwhile, have adopted a number of technologies for wringing maximum productivity out of the money the spend on water.Join the Central Coast MIT Enterprise forum for a intriguing discussion on the role of technology now and in
the future in managing California’s most vital resource.


Keynote:  Mark Kram, Founder and CEO Groundswell
drmarkkramDr. Mark Kram, (Founder/Senior Hydrogeologist) has over 25 years of industry and government experience as an environmental geochemist, and is a Certified Ground Water Professional under the aegis of NGWA. Dr. Kram received his Ph.D. from the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara, his M.S. in Geology from San Diego State University, and his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the recipient of the Nancy Brown Environmental Graduate Dissertation Fellowship awarded for academic excellence and research leading toward environmental restoration through the UCSB Affiliates. Dr. Kram has presented papers at more than 20 industry conferences, has published more than 40 technical papers, has taught graduate level courses at UCSB in GIS and contaminant assessment and remediation, and has written several books and national standards dealing with environmental characterization. Dr. Kram has also been invited to consult with regulatory agencies (e.g., EPA, CalEPA, Indiana DEM, Florida DEM, ITRC and others) to generate environmental policy regarding proper use of innovative technologies he has developed. He has been recognized for his contributions to the environmental fields through his research, teaching, publications, project management skills, GIS applications, and sensor patents. Dr. Kram is currently collaborating with leading DOE, DOD, and university scientists to generate new environmental sensors and applications. mark.kram@groundswelltech.com


Panelists: Hugo Loaiciga, UC Santa Barbara; Rob Saperstein, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; John Krist, Ventura County Farm Bureau



Dr. Hugo Loaiciga served as the Water Commissioner for the City of Santa Barbara for six years before joining the UCSB’s Geography Department in 1988. He received the 2002 Service to the Profession Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute for his “longstanding contributions to research and technical activities” of the two groups, and he was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers for his “outstanding contributions to the planning, analysis, and operation of water resources engineering” in 2007.



Rob Saperstein of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is co-chair of the firm’s Natural Resources Department and serves as office managing partner of the Santa Barbara, Sacramento, San Diego and Orange County offices. Rob’s practice focuses on water law and related environmental issues, primarily representing public entities potable water and recycled water suppliers. He counsels and advocates in both transactional and litigation settings, and appears before local agencies, the California State Water Resources Control Board, various regional water quality control boards, the California Public Utilities Commission and state and federal courts.



John Krist was hired in February 2008 to serve as the chief executive officer of the Farm Bureau of Ventura County, the region’s oldest and largest agricultural association. As CEO, he is responsible for managing the nonprofit organization’s staff, daily operations and finances. He recommends policy to the organization’s Board of Directors, implements board directives, and represents the interests of the membership at legislative and regulatory hearings. He also serves as the organization’s liaison with the news media, as well as with numerous community organizations and groups. Before joining the Farm Bureau, Mr. Krist worked for 24 years as a reporter, editor and Opinion-page columnist at the Ventura County Star. During that time, his commentaries on land-use policy, natural resources and environmental issues were distributed by Scripps Howard News Service and published in newspapers throughout the United States. His work has also appeared in California Planning & Development Report, a statewide newsletter for land-use and public-policy experts, and Planning, the magazine of the American Planning Association. The winner of numerous writing awards and journalism fellowships, he is the author of three books about California’s parks and wilderness areas, as well as Voyage of Rediscovery, based on his experiences retracing the Lewis and Clark trail. He also has contributed to books on urban renewal and wildfire policy. His newest book is “Living Legacy: The Story of Ventura County Agriculture.”

This program will be moderated by Stephen Nellis, Pacific Coast Business Times


Wednesday, January 15, 2013 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Student $15.00
Regular (Online pre-registration only) $30.00
At the Door $40.00
Parking $3.00

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