Water is big business as well as a huge issue of policy in California. The number of people involved in leadership to set direction for water use is somewhat amazing. An example of the people involved is shown by the anticipated attendance at the 2012 Fall Conference & Exhibition organized by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).

Water management  in California is being pushed into a new era of change that will shape the decades to come because of new leadership, new technology, innovation and population, noted ACWA in announcing its meeting. More than 1,600 local and state water leaders will discuss California's water future Dec. 4-7 during the ACWA’ 2012 Fall Conference & Exhibition, themed "California Water ... The Next Generation," at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 440 members are responsible for about 90 percent of the water delivered in California. Its website is www.acwa.com.

Water policy expert Sunne Wright McPeak, president of the Delta Vision Foundation, will discuss emerging consensus on Delta water projects of northern California and opportunities for breakthroughs on California water, during a lunch keynote Wednesday, Dec. 5. Other programs that day include a 10 a.m. panel discussion of new water leaders who are helming key state agencies, such as the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Stewardship Council; as well as a look ahead at the future of California's expansive water delivery system, in a 1:30 p.m. session called "State Water Project: The Next 50 Years."

On Thursday, Dec. 6, FBI Special Agent in Charge Herbert Brown will talk about cyber-crime, chemical security and other threats to water systems—and how a unique alliance is protecting the nation's critical infrastructure. Another program, called "Delta Mitigation: At Whose Expense?" features an expert panel's look at local efforts to fix the Delta and the possible impacts. Other session topics that day include analyses of the Delta economy from two respected university scholars, state and federal water issues forums and a local tap water campaigns session.

On Dec. 7, Washington, D.C., insiders will share insights about the election's outcome, new players on the political scene and what it all means for California water.