Who will be at #GCWCS24?
Water Resource Managers, Planners, Consultants, and Engineers
Water Utility Managers and Board Members
Water Conservation and Efficiency Professionals
Regulatory Agencies
Outreach and Communication Professionals
Green Infrastructure Professionals
Municipal/Regional Government Officials
Product and Service Providers
Leak Detection Professionals
Water Auditors
Distributors and Manufacturers
Scientist and Researchers
Educators and Students
Keynote Speaker
dr. Robert Mace, P.G.
Dr. Robert Mace is the Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University.

Robert has a B.S. in Geophysics, an M.S. in Hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology from The University of Texas at Austin.

With over 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy, mostly in Texas, we are honored to have Dr. Mace as our keynote speaker.
Program & Symposium Speakers
This one-day program will provide information on implementing successful water conservation programs, funding opportunities for water conservation projects, effectively engaging customers, and planning for the future. Below is the symposium schedule:
8:00am   |   Registration & Continental Breakfast (2nd floor ATRIUM)
Please show your photo ID or registration confirmation page to check in at the registration area. Upon picking up your name badge and welcome pack, you are invited to enjoy a continental breakfast in the Sam Houston Ballroom before the symposium begins.
9:00am   |   Morning Speaking Program (lonestar ballroom)
Symposium Introduction
PAUL NELSON | Advocate for Water Efficiency
Paul served for 28 years in the Public Works and Engineering Department for the City of Houston, retiring as a Deputy Director. He worked as the GIS coordinator with the North Harris County Regional Water Authority for 5 years, followed by serving as the Assistant General Manager of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District until his retirement in 2017. Paul has an extensive background in the areas of public works administration, water conservation, water policy, and long-range planning. He serves on the Trinity Bay and Galveston Bay Basin and Bay Area Stakeholders Committee created by Senate Bill 3, is an alternate to the Region H Water Planning Group, and is a working committee member of several statewide water-related organizations. Paul received a BS degree in Biology from Lamar University and a Medical Technology Degree from Hermann Hospital, Houston. Born in Galveston, Paul has lived in the Houston area for his entire life.
Message from the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District
MIKE TURCO | General Manager, Harris-Galveston Subsidence District
Michael J. Turco is the General Manager of the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District and Fort Bend Subsidence District in Texas. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and a Master of Science in Geology (Hydrogeology) from the University of Nebraska and began his career in the water industry with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Water Resources Division field office, working on many water data collection and research projects throughout Iowa and Nebraska. In 2004, he moved to Houston, Texas, to be the Chief Hydrologist of the Gulf Coast Program until accepting the position of General Manager at the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District (HGSD) and Fort Bend Subsidence District (FBSD) in 2013. Mike is responsible for developing and implementing regional water management strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of water resources while protecting the lives and property within District boundaries from the impacts of subsidence. He emphasizes the importance of strategic collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies along with university research programs to improve the understanding of groundwater use and analyze the impact on aquifer water levels and subsidence. His determination to prevent subsidence includes an all-inclusive approach utilizing the most credible science and research, reasonable regulation, and the promotion of water conservation.
Welcome Address
COMMISSIONER LESLEY BRIONES | Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4
Harris County Commissioner Lesley Briones is a native Texan and proud Latina who grew up on the U.S.-Mexico border. She is the daughter of teachers, who taught her the importance of education, hard work, and serving others—values that have defined her and which she now brings to the office of County Commissioner for Precinct 4. Upon graduating with honors from Harvard University, she began her career as an 8th and 10th-grade teacher at two of the lowest-income public schools in the country. She then attended Yale Law School, where she led the Latino Law Students’ Association's public service initiatives and provided pro-bono assistance to survivors of domestic abuse and juvenile offenders. Commissioner Briones returned to Texas to practice law at Vinson & Elkins LLP, then served as General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer of the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, a major national philanthropic nonprofit. She next became the Judge of Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4. Judge Briones was the highest-rated Harris County Civil Court at Law Judge in the 2019 Houston Bar Association (HBA) Judicial Evaluation Poll and won the 2020 HBA Judicial Preference Poll. Briones co-founded the statewide nonprofit Texas Latinx Judges and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Securing Our Region: A Half-Century Water Vision for the Region
JASON D. AFINOWICZ, P.E. | Principal & Vice President, Freese and Nichols
Jason Afinowicz is the national practice leader for Water Resource Planning at Freese and Nichols. In his almost 20 years of planning experience, he has managed or participated in five rounds of regional planning for the Region H Water Planning Group as well as other regions throughout Texas. His team is responsible for the development and management of sustainable, resilient water solutions including supply projects and demand management. Jason’s educational experience includes both a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and a master’s degree in biological and agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana and is a member of the American Water Works Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Water Highlights from the 2023 Texas Legislative Session
SARAH KIRKLE | Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Texas Water Conservation Association
Sarah works with members of TWCA to develop policy positions through TWCA’s legislative committees and to subsequently advance those policy initiatives through education and advocacy at the Texas Legislature. Previously, Sarah was at Texas 2036, where she was the director of policy and planning and focused on education, infrastructure, health, government performance, and natural resources policy. Sarah also spent 13 years at the Sunset Advisory Commission, where she was a member of the agency’s executive management team and worked across most sectors of state government to make government work smaller and smarter.
Keynote Address
DR. ROBERT MACE, P.G. | Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University
Robert Mace is the Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Robert has a B.S. in Geophysics, an M.S. in Hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology from The University of Texas at Austin. With over 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy, mostly in Texas, we are honored to have Dr. Mace as our keynote speaker.
Climate Impacts Panel
DR. MATTHEW BERG | CEO & Principal Scientist, Simfero
Matthew Berg is the CEO & Principal Scientist of Simfero, a science-based research and strategy firm located in Houston. He has over 20 years of experience working on numerous water resources issues in agency, academic, and private sectors. Dr. Berg enjoys leading conversations with elected officials and also teaching bilingual kindergarten classes how to dance out the hydrologic cycle. In addition to several national awards, he has been named to Houston Business Journal's 40 Under 40.
DR. STEPHANIE GLENN | Vice President Research, Water, HARC
Dr. Stephanie Glenn is the Vice President Research, Water at HARC, specializing in ecology and hydrology.  Stephanie leads a team of scientists, sustainability experts and support staff that work to incorporate independent research into advancing scientific solutions relating to climate and water issues. In addition to her leadership activities, Stephanie’s research focuses on the analysis and dissemination of data relating to water quality and quantity, watershed health, climate impacts on water and the health and productivity of coastal watersheds and the Gulf of Mexico. Stephanie has experience managing and analyzing large environmental monitoring data sets, developing climate and water risk indicators, and disseminating science-based information to stakeholders and the public.
DR. PHILIPPE TISSOT | Conrad Blucher Institute Chair for Coastal Artificial Intelligence, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 
Dr. Philippe Tissot is the Conrad Blucher Institute Chair for Coastal Artificial Intelligence at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a co-PI for the National Science Foundation Artificial Intelligence Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography, or AI2ES. Since his arrival at CBI in 1999, Dr. Tissot’s research has focused on the development of artificial intelligence and statistical methods for the analysis and predictions of environmental systems with a focus on coastal physical processes. Present projects include developing operational predictions for coastal inundation, navigation, sea turtle conservation, and emergency management. Other research includes studying relative sea level rise, the spatial variability of vertical land motion, and other coastal processes and their societal impacts.
DR. JOE C. YELDERMAN JR., P.G. | Professor and Chair of Geosciences, Baylor University
Dr. Joe has experience in government, industry and 40 years in academia with a research focus in hydrogeology. He has a B.S. in Geology and Environmental Studies, an M.S. in Geology with Environmental Emphasis, and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology with a minor in Environmental Planning. He grew up on the Gulf Coast in Needville, Texas.
12:00pm   |   lunch (grand texan ballroom)
1:00pm   |   AFTERNOON SPEAKING PROGRAM (lonestar ballroom)
Smart Water Systems - Beyond the Meter
TRINO PEDRAZA | Executive Director of Public Works and Utilities, City of Galveston
As the Executive Director of Public Works and Utilities for the City of Galveston, Trino Pedraza is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Water Distribution, Water Supply, Metering, Wastewater Treatment, Pre-Treatment, Sewer Collections, Streets, Traffic and Drainage divisions. Trino has over 17 years of experience in the water/wastewater and the electric utilities industry, having served in roles ranging from Technical Planner at San Antonio Water System (SAWS) to Director of Water/Wastewater at both New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) and at the City of Galveston, Texas. Trino also served in the United States Army prior to his utility career. Trino earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronic Engineering.
Water Conservation Measures & Funding Mechanisms Panel
THE HONORABLE MARK EVANS | Planning & Governmental Affairs Director, North Harris County Regional Water Authority 
Mark Evans is a sixth-generation Texan. He is also the son and grandson of County Sheriffs and the proud father of two daughters. He graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business. In 1994, he was elected Trinity County Judge and served 16 years, retiring in 2010. He currently serves as the Planning and Governmental Affairs Director for the North Harris County Regional Water Authority.

AMBER BATSON, P.E. | Associate Vice President, Carollo Engineers, Inc.
Amber Batson is a project manager in Carollo’s Houston office and also is a board member for the Gulf Coast Authority. She has over 20 years of experience with water systems and has held roles in both the public and private sector in Texas and Florida. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and is a proud Florida Gator.
SCOTT GALAWAY | Financial Assistance Outreach Specialist, Texas Water Development Board
Scott Galaway is an Outreach Specialist with the Texas Water Development Board. He promotes TWDB’s state and federal financial assistance programs and helps utilities and communities find options for financing water-related infrastructure. Scott has over three decades of experience with utility infrastructure operations and management, including water resources planning, capital improvement plans, construction, and project management. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas State University and is a Licensed Water and Wastewater Operator.
WHITNEY MILBERGER | Communications & Conservation Manager, BGE, Inc.
Whitney Milberger is a Certified Arborist and Licensed Irrigator at BGE, Inc. She holds a B.S. in Agronomy from Stephen F. Austin and an M.S. in Soil and Crop Sciences from Texas A&M University. She primarily serves as the Communications & Conservation Manager for the North Fort Bend Water Authority. When not in the office, she and her two boys (and pup Rosie Perez) live, farm, and play a ton of sports in Matagorda County.
DR. CHARLES PORTER | Water Rights Expert
Author of four award-winning college textbooks about water rights in Texas, across the United States, and internationally. Recently served as Chair of the Texas Real Estate Commission Education Advisory Committee. A full list of credentials and expertise can be found at www.charlesporter.com.
El Paso's Approach to Direct Potable Reuse Paves the Way
SANAAN VILLALOBOS, P.E., ENV SP | Vice President, Carollo Engineers, Inc.
Sanaan Villalobos is the Texas Business Development Manager and Vice President with Carollo Engineers, Inc. and has 23 years of experience in civil and environmental engineering.  Ms. Villalobos received her BS degree in Civil Engineering and MS degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. She has served as the project manager for El Paso Water’s Advanced Water Purification Facility for the last decade as the project has been developed, piloted, and designed. She serves as a trustee on the Texas WateReuse board and ACEC El Paso.
Ethology to Action: Developing Customer Habits Through Conservation Communications
KELSEY KOSIK | Water Conservation Specialist, City of Fort Worth
Kelsey is a native Floridian and a 2010 graduate of the University of Central Florida. For over a decade, she blazed a trail to become the first female Senior Herpetologist at the renowned Fort Worth Zoo, earning her stripes in the #1 ranked zoo in the country as a distinguished conservationist. With a passion for ecology, education, data and animal behavior, Kelsey now brings her expertise to the City of Fort Worth Water Department as the Senior Water Conservation Specialist. Here, she has transformed conservation program analysis, updated conservation programs to increase diversity and inclusion, and actively enjoys developing new conservation outreach opportunity ideas with the rest of the Conservation team.
City of Houston's One Water Plan and Give Water a Break Campaign
EKATERINA FITOS, GISP | Planning Director Houston Water, Houston Public Works
Ekaterina Fitos is the Planning Director for Houston Water. Houston Water is a service line within Houston Public Works whereby the Houston Water Planning Branch develops long-range plans and advises on delivery of water and wastewater services for current and future demands.  Ms. Fitos has over 22 years combined experience in the public and private sectors. Among extensive experience in project management and analysis, she was the first State of Florida Geographic Information Officer, and proud to be a newer Houstonian. She is a certified GISP, and has a Master in Business Administration (MBA), a MA in Geography, and BS in environmental science.
Conserving Water with WaterMyYard
CHARLES SWANSON, M. AGR. CAIS | Extension Landscape Irrigation Specialist, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service
Charles Swanson is a TCEQ Licensed Landscape Irrigator and conducts training programs to support the Irrigation Industry. Based at Texas A&M University in the Biological & Agricultural Engineering Department, Charles coordinates the Texas A&M School of Irrigation and manages the daily operation of the Texas Evapotranspiration Network and the WaterMyYard Programs. He also manages the Smart Irrigation Laboratory where he performs testing and evaluation of smart irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors and irrigation sprinklers.
Closing Remarks
ASHLEY GREUTER, P.G. | Director of Research and Water Conservation, Harris-Galveston Subsidence District
Ashley Greuter is the Director of Research and Water Conservation at HGSD, where she administers the science and research program focused on finding and evaluating high-quality, relevant data to support the advancement of subsidence and groundwater research, including subsidence monitoring with GPS stations and innovative technology like Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Geographic Information System (GIS). Additionally, she oversees the District’s award-winning water conservation program. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies and a Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, in Geology from the University of Florida, a Master of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), and is a licensed Professional Geoscientist in Texas.
4:00pm   |   Symposium ends
Gold Sponsors:
Silver Sponsor:
Bronze Sponsors:
Embassy Suites - Energy Corridor
11730 Katy Freeway
Houston, Texas 77079

Parking: The venue offers self-parking at no charge in their parking garage.

All symposium events will be held on the 2nd floor of the Embassy Suites.
Continental breakfast and breaks will be held in the Sam Houston Ballroom.
Sessions will be held in the Lonestar Ballroom.
Lunch will be served in the Grand Texan Ballroom.

*Because this is a one-day event, there will not be a group room block. If you require hotel accommodations, please contact the Embassy Suites directly.
News & Updates
Posted October 2, 2023
Online registration opens on December 4, 2023, and will close on February 16, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. (CST). All sales are final.

*Update: The online registration was opened back up due to an increase in demand and will officially close on February 20, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. (CST). We are almost at booking capacity and once the online system has closed, we will no longer accept registrations.
Sponsorships Available Now
Posted October 2, 2023
Be a part of something great by sponsoring the symposium!

Contact [email protected] to learn more.

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