WC-13 The Institutional Overlay of Food-Energy-Water Systems: Law, Economics and Decision-making Under Uncertainty

The utility of the future is faced with a tension between incentivizing efficiency to reduce water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and raising rates to sustain revenue generation and cover fixed costs. This tension may play out differently in water and power utilities and in public versus investor owned utilities. In the first part of this session we will share lessons learned across the water and energy sectors on this issue. In the second part of this session we will expand the discussion to include food. Specifically, we will explore the role of the private sector in enhancing collaboration across institutional divides in food energy and water sectors to reduce food waste, carbon emissions and enhance water use efficiency.


John Sabo, Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University


  • Lyle Beefelt, Director of Management and Budget, Prince William County Service Authority
  • Erica Brown, Director of Sustainability and Climate Programs, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA)
  • Kristina M. Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO, Cube Hydro Partners LLC and former Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Jonathan Radtke, Water Resource Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola North America

John Sabo is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences and Senior Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS). At GIOS Sabo led an effort to create ASU’s Food Systems Transformation Initiative and is now leading an initiative to create a campus-wide water center that will focus on, among other things, the interplay between food-energy-water systems and developing solutions that harness the opportunities for coupling two or more of these systems. His primary scientific research lies at the interface between stochastic hydrology and fisheries. Sabo is currently an adviser to the Mekong River Commission where he is helping them develop forecasting tools for an inland fishery that feeds 60M people but that is at risk from changing climate and flow regime and hydropower development in the Mekong Basin.

Lyle Beefelt is the Director of Management and Budget for the Prince William County Service Authority. Mr. Beefelt has over 28 years of water industry experience in rate setting, budgeting, capital planning, utility financing, and performance measurement and is responsible for developing the annual budget, budgetary control over expenditures, management and statistical reports, investment management, and the performance measurement program. Prior to his promotion to Director of Management and Budget in June 2006, Mr. Beefelt worked for 18 years as the Financial Analyst and Senior Financial Analyst in the Service Authority’s Finance Division. Mr. Beefelt is a graduate of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT and received a BA in Economics.

Erica Brown is Director of Sustainability and Climate Programs at the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) in Washington, D.C. AMWA is an association of the largest publicly owned drinking water utilities in the U.S. Member representatives are the CEOs and general managers of those organizations. Erica works with federal agencies, and other organizations to advocate for actionable information and science to support water utility decision-making in climate resilience and sustainability. Related to the food-energy-water nexus, in her work, Erica considers the water-energy nexus more specifically, such as the synergies between water conservation and energy use and the subsequent impact that has on utility rates and rate structures. The food component of the nexus is something that AMWA is beginning to address.

Kristina M. Johnson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cube Hydro Partners LLC. Each kwh of electricity produced by fossil-fuels emits more than one pound of C02 and uses a gallon of water for cooling. Renewable energy is a non-carbon emitter and a consumes little, if any, water in producing electricity. However, different renewable energy technologies vary by orders in magnitude in the land required to produce electricity. As Under Secretary of Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy, Johnson testified to Congress on the energy-water nexus and will update this testimony during this session. In addition, she will summarize the opportunity to responsibly expand the nation’s largest renewable-hydroelectric generation by powering the tens of thousands of dams that exist for flood control, navigation, recreation, and irrigation, and could easily add renewable energy as a fifth use for these existing dams.

Jonathan Radtke is the Water Resource Sustainability Director for Coca-Cola North America in Atlanta, GA. In this role, he manages the company’s water stewardship program, which focuses on water conservation initiatives within manufacturing facilities, source water protection strategies, community water partnerships and sustainable agriculture initiatives within the supply chain. The company aims to return to nature and to communities an amount of water equivalent to the water used in Coca-Cola’s beverages and their production. Mr. Radtke’s leadership has helped position Coca-Cola as an industry leader in water stewardship.

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