Innevation Center Member Highlight - Rick Warner

Rick Warner named as Innevation Center Member of August 2021

Rick Warner headshot.

Innevation Center Member Highlight - Rick Warner

Rick Warner named as Innevation Center Member of August 2021

Rick Warner headshot.

Our member highlight for August is Rick Warner - the founder and president of Warner and Associates, an engineering consulting firm that manages complex projects related to water resources and water reuse. Rick is an alumnus of the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in civil and environmental engineering and has worked in the municipal water utility field for nearly 35 years. Rick founded Warner Associates in 2018 to assist communities in solving water resource management and water sustainability challenges. 

We asked Rick about key water resource challenges facing Nevada. Rick commented that the sustained and severe drought in the West is impacting the Colorado River watershed and challenging southern Nevada's primary water supply. He believes that a robust conjunctive use (i.e., planned use of both surface water and ground water to maximize total water availability) utilizing Truckee River water, groundwater, and recycled water could make up the Truckee Meadows water supply for long-term sustainability. Rick commented that managing treated wastewater effluent within the Truckee Meadows is one of the region's highest water management priorities, noting “The challenge is addressing the water quality and legal obligations of returning effluent to the Truckee River to satisfy downstream water rights for agriculture and fisheries and utilizing effluent for non-potable such as irrigating parks and for job-generating industrial uses.”

Rick also believes that extreme variability in climate patterns will challenge our traditional water management strategies. “Some experts predict a future of prolonged arid conditions interrupted by warmer winter storms resulting in more rainfall and less snowpack.” From a water resource management perspective, we need to “create resiliency and redundancy into our community water supply plans regardless of the future conditions.”

Rick further commented that strategies to address climate variability do not have to be overly complex. “For example, conservation, recycling, replenishing groundwater aquifers, and storing water in upstream reservoirs in wet years are strategies already in place and accepted by the community,” he said, adding Nevada will need “sustained and aligned efforts from public officials, agencies, community stakeholders, and the public to mitigate the effects of climate variability.”

To get ahead of climate change that’s impacting our water resources, Rick believes that water planners, scientists, engineers, and operators will continue adapting to changing conditions and create the best possible longer-term solutions.  Rick is pleased to see our regional policymakers create and fund two visionary initiatives: OneWater Nevada, a regional collaborative effort to research and realize innovative water supply options and advanced water treatment technologies for northern Nevada, and the University's Nevada Water Innovation Institute, founded by the same regional partners and the State of Nevada.

In 2018, the University presented Rick the prestigious James G. Scrugham Medal in recognition as a distinguished alumnus of the College of Engineering.  Rick also received the National Advocacy Achievement Award from the WateReuse Association.

Outside of work, Rick enjoys hiking, biking, and travels. He is also active in several professional and research organizations. In 2016, Rick launched Partnering for Impact, an annual event that attracts diverse cross sections of water leaders to explore synergies in the advancement of utility-university-industry partnerships, workforce development, and sustainable water management practices. 

Learn more about Warner and Associates

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