Conference Speakers
National Water Policy and the Future of Texas Water: A Local and National Debate

Dr. Tom Arsuffi

Tom Arsuffi is Director of the Llano River Field Station at Texas Tech University in Junction. He received his Ph.D. at New Mexico State University in 1984 and did a post doctorate at the University of Georgia Marine Institute. His research interests are in aquatic and watershed ecology and environmental education and he and his students have worked in a range of aquatic ecosystems. He teaches courses in Aquatic Biology, General Ecology, Stream Ecology, Environmental Impact Analysis, Invasive Species Ecology, Scientific Method in Aquatic Resources and Wetlands Ecology. He has publications in leading ecological journals and given invited and contributed presentations on his work at national and international aquatic, ecological and scientific meetings. He has served as: President of a 1000+ member Texas Academy of Science, as Program Chair for regional and international scientific societies, Executive Board of Organization of Biological Field Stations, a reviewer for National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture panels, external reviewer for state science center programs, original ESA SEEDS partner & mentor, advised NSF/NIH funded K-12 teacher training in research, developed K-12 watershed education units, worked with the national media, received research/education grants over $8.7 million from numerous state, federal and foundation funding sources, completed 32 graduate students as thesis adviser, served on over 50 graduate committees and was an invited representative for the American Institute of Biological Sciences Congressional Visits Day to inform Congress on the research and education importance of Field Stations in the United States. For the past 7 years, he served as a nationally selected member of the Science Review Panel, evaluating environmental studies associated with a $1 Billion interbasin water transfer project in Texas.

Senator Robert Duncan

Senator Robert Duncan has been a leader in the Texas Senate since 1996, when he won a special election to represent District 28.

Senator Duncan has served in several key chairmanships during his Senate tenure. During the past three legislative seasons, he led the Senate State Affairs Committee as chairman. He is also a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Jurisprudence Committee.

Texas Monthly has three times named him among the state's 10 best legislators. The esteemed publication has also listed Senator Duncan as a "Texas Super Lawyer" for his professional reputation in the private sector.

Dr. Michael Farmer

Dr. Farmer is a Natural Resource Economist in the Departments of Agricultural and Applied Economic and Natural Resources Management at Texas Tech University. Dr. Farmer has considerable policy experience with water authorities, land use managers, energy research policy bureaus and industry (pulp and paper, cotton growers, rural electric cooperatives, real estate developers), generally as the lone economist among policy-makers and engineers.

Dr. Farmer serves on the American Society of Civil Engineers panel to evaluate water reallocation strategies for Federal reservoirs; directed "Integrated Water Implication of Biofuels" section of A Report to the Secretaries USDA-DOE. National Strategic Plan Report. US Bio-Fuels, 2009; reviews Institute of Water Resources (IWR) Revision of Procedures for Congress; serves on the Task Force on the Committee for South Mississippi Navigation. USACOE (IWR) report on deep water channels in the lower Mississippi to Congress in 2007; has co-authored Strategic Planning Study for the Yellow River Law to the China Ministry on Water Resources and Yellow River Conservancy Commission, 2003-2004; is an advisor to Atlanta Regional Commission on Tri-state Water Compact; and co-authored a National Economic Development (NED) Study assessing alternative reservoir operations, 2002 – present.

Mr. Billy Finn

Upon graduation from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor of Science in Hydrology and Water Resources, Billy Finn commenced his federal service as a staff hydrologist with the Hydrology/Hydraulics and Reservoir Control branches of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Ft. Worth District.

In 1998, Mr. Finn accepted a journeyman hydrologist position with the National Weather Service, West Gulf River Forecast Center. Duties focused on daily hydrologic forecast operations for various locations throughout Texas and New Mexico and model calibration.

Mr. Finn moved west (El Paso) and accepted a staff hydraulic engineer position with the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) in 2002. Presently, Mr. Finn serves as the Chief of Water Accounting Division, Operations Department and is responsible for the oversight, direction and management of the agency’s hydrologic program and ensures equitable distribution of waters between United States and Mexico pursuant to international treaties.

Dr. Ron Kaiser

Ronald A. Kaiser is professor of water law and policy at Texas A&M University. He regularly teaches graduate courses and seminars on water and environmental law. Kaiser developed and directs the university's interdisciplinary master and doctoral degree program in Water Management and Hydrological Science (WMHS). The WMHS program has an annual enrollment of some 60 U.S. and international students. Kaiser's research interests include groundwater management practices, water marketing, urban water conservation and storm recovery planning for national parks. Over the last 5 years he has administered more than $1 million in water related research funding. Kaiser developed and directs the Texas Water Education Program to provide timely water information through seminars and conferences to Texas officials and stakeholder groups.

Dr. George F. McMahon III

Vice President, Technical and Service Leader, Water Resources Planning and Management, ARCADIS

Mr. Bill Mullican

Mr. Mullican is a native of Lubbock, Texas, and graduated from Texas Tech University in 1978 with a B.S. in Broadfield Science Education and in 1981 with a M.S. in Geology. Mr. Mullican is an advisor for groundwater issues for the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District in Lubbock. Mr. Mullican retired March 3, 2009 from the Texas Water Development Board, where he served as Deputy Executive Administrator for Water Science and Conservation.

After 14 years with the University Of Texas Bureau Of Economic Geology, he joined the Texas Water Development Board staff as Director of Water Resources Planning. In this position, he was responsible for preparation of the 2002 Texas State Water Plan and for direction of scientific/technical assistance for groundwater and surface water resources.

Mr. Mullican was promoted to Deputy Executive Administrator for Planning in 2002. His responsibilities were expanded to include preparation of the 2007 State Water Plan, water data monitoring, as well as environmental and research programs at the TWDB.

In 2008, Mr. Mullican was named Deputy Executive Administrator for Water Science and Conservation.

Mr. Robert Puente

Robert R. Puente was appointed San Antonio Water System's president and CEO in November 2008. As chief executive of one of the nation's largest utilities, he provides leadership in delivering water and wastewater services to more than 1.3 million consumers, developing new water resources, continuing infrastructure upgrades throughout the community, and building regional partnerships.

Puente served in the Texas House of Representatives before being tapped for the interim president/CEO role at SAWS in May 2008. First elected in 1991, Puente was immediately appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, which develops water policy for the state. He became its chairman in 2003.

As one of the policy pioneers of modern water supply management in Texas, Puente helped shape key regional water issues, beginning with the creation of the Edwards Aquifer Authority legislation in 1993.

In his final year in the House, Puente successfully sponsored Senate Bill 3, which advanced a comprehensive statewide water management strategy, leveraging the proven strengths of the regional planning model. This landmark bill also solidified Edwards Aquifer pumping permits, saving the region hundreds of millions of dollars.

Throughout his legislative career, Puente served on numerous committees including Local Ways and Means, Bexar Metropolitan Water District Legislative Oversight, Edwards Aquifer Legislative Oversight, Study Commission on Water for Environmental Flows and Water Advisory Council.

Puente currently serves on the board of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The United Way of San Antonio, Inc., Economic Development Foundation, SAISD Foundation for Excellence, AWWA Texas Section Water Utility Council, Basin and Bay Area Stakeholder Committee (BBASC).

Robert is a 1979 graduate of St. Mary's University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1982. Since graduating, he has been a private attorney, and has owned his own law firm since 1990.

Robert is married to Carmen Muñiz Puente. They have three children.

Dr. Ken Rainwater

After receiving his Master's and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas, Dr. Rainwater joined Texas Tech University in 1985 and, since 2002, has served as the Director for the Texas Tech University Water Resources Center.

Dr. Rainwater's research focuses on modeling of groundwater flow and contaminant transport, groundwater rights, water resources management, remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater, and watershed management. He is the principal and co-principal investigator on several ongoing projects, which include field observations of recharge to the Ogallala aquifer, impacts of climate variability on surface and groundwater resources, and watershed management through removal of invasive vegetation.

Dr. Rainwater also serves as the Director Lead of the Water Leadership Council, a Graduate Student Advisor, and he works as an industry consultant, providing expertise in environmental contamination, water rights issues, groundwater well field design and management, and groundwater modeling and risk assessment.

Mr. Jim Thebaut

Jim Thebaut is the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Executive Producer of the Chronicles Group, Inc. In this role, he is influencing critical public policy about the threat of the evolving global humanitarian water crisis and its dire effect on international security. He has managed multi-disciplinary teams and created the public information education documentary feature projects The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?, Running Dry and The Cold War and Beyond.

Importantly, Mr. Thebaut's public policy leadership and vision led to the enactment of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which authorizes funding for water and sanitation in developing nations. On July 28th, 2009 he organized a National Water Policy Event at Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Thebaut is also an Executive Producer/Producer and journalist. He has been affiliated with and produced for CBS, ABC News, HBO, The Arts & Entertainment Network, and Public Television. His films have been distributed and broadcast throughout the world.

Mr. Kevin Ward

As the executive administrator of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), Kevin Ward serves as the chief executive officer of a state agency employing over 300 scientists, engineers, lawyers, GIS professionals, finance officers, and related support staff. Under the direction of a six-member board appointed by the governor, the TWDB is responsible for planning the statewide development of water resources, financing water-related infrastructure, and maintaining and disseminating natural resource data for Texas, which includes water-bearing formations and watersheds. Mr. Ward was appointed to his current position in May 2002.

During his 21-years with the TWDB, he has served in several capacities, including financial analyst, finance section chief, and development fund manager. From March 1996 to April 2002, Mr. Ward served as the TWDB's deputy executive administrator for the Office of Project Finance and Construction Assistance.