Regional leaders and stakeholders will convene in August to discuss an issue that lurks below: water.

"There are a lot of challenges for the water community," Kirby Brill, general manager of the Mojave Water Agency, said during a recent telephone news conference. "We are really at a crossroads."

Brill and others agreed that a combination of factors makes our liquid life force more precious. The most important is the 3 million people who are expected to live in the county by 2020. That's why the Aug. 9 event at the Ontario Convention Center holds so much importance.

With the fifth largest population of any county in the state and the largest land area of any county in the 48 contiguous states, San Bernardino County must see that an immense amount of water continues to be delivered.

"Water infrastructure is one of the most critical issues for our county," said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. Furthermore, he said, "We have a responsibility as county government for providing that umbrella."

The current water consumption is 246 million gallons a day. And existing residents use about 90 billion gallons of water every year.

Builders, who have helped fuel the population boom, agree.

"The building industry is looking to make sure that we are building smarter," said Carlos Rodriguez, senior vice president of the Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter. "We want to ensure that there is more efficient water use with showers and toilets and appliances. There really is a paradigm shift."

The first-ever event will be co-hosted by Mitzelfelt and California State Senator Bob Dutton and sponsored by the BIA, Baldy View Chapter.

Scheduled speakers will include Susan Lien Longville, director of the Water Resource Institute at California State University, San Bernardino. Lester Snow, director of State Department of Water Resources, will serve as the keynote speaker.

Panelists include Celeste Cantu, Jerry Thiebeault, Kirby Brill, Lynn Lipinski, Mark Grey, Martha Davis, Randall Lewis, Randy Van Gelder, Reggie Lamson and Tom Love.

Organizers and participants are excited about the possible outcome of the conference.

"I think there is a lot of synergy that will come out of this," Brill said.

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