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Winner Spotlight: Stop Groundwater Plan


Tom Manaugh and Saïd Majdi teamed up to develop the Stop Groundwater Plan– Save $8 Billion proposal in the Adaptation to Climate Change contest, and are two of this year’s Judge’s Choice Winners. The proposal pitches an alternative to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s current plan to pump and transport groundwater from the eastern part of the state and presents a more ecologically-sound strategy for Las Vegas and the greater region to meet its water needs

   2014 Judge’s Choice Winners, Tom Manaugh and Saïd Majdi of Stop Groundwater Plan — Save $8 Billion

Team member Tom Manaugh tells us more about his team and their water plan:

What inspired you to submit a proposal to the Climate CoLab?

We learned of Climate CoLab this year and actually entered the contest to get practice on the online platform prior to submitting an entry in 2015 on a topic dealing with renewable energy. We still have plans to submit an entry in 2015 on an ambitious green energy project we call “Energy Island.”

How long did you work on the idea before entering it into the Climate CoLab?

Saïd, a consultant in the transportation and energy industry, and I met informally during a community outreach event at a local mosque in 2013. We had a meeting after Saïd showed interest in the Energy Island invention that I got patented in 2012, and an informal collaboration evolved from there. Eventually, we created and submitted a provisional patent application to the U.S. Patent Office for an invention regarding energy storage.

With only a few days left before the Climate CoLab deadline, we were lucky to have made it into the Adaptation to Climate Change Contest with a rather hastily written proposal to improve on a troubled plan we saw described in a news report—a plan to combat water scarcity in Las Vegas, Nevada, with massive pumping and transport of groundwater. The plan was clearly one that was too narrowly focused, too expensive, too environmentally destructive, too short-term, and too mired in controversy and lawsuits. Basing a new plan on systems thinking and our knowledge of energy and water issues, we wrote an alternative plan called “The Desalination Plan.” (Sara Manaugh offered very good editing advice.) Even after becoming finalists, we continued to refine our plan, based on feedback from judges and others. Those refinements are posted on our entry’s comments page.

The Climate CoLab has provided an effective collaboration platform that has facilitated the development of our proposed plan. Feedback from the judges and other experts was a major contributor to the final quality of our contest entry.

Literally millions of people can get long-term benefits if the groundwater plan is stopped and a better plan is adopted. Furthermore, the habitats for millions of creatures will not be destroyed as natural springs dry up. An opportunity to see our idea benefit people and the planet is something we feel committed to pursue.

One source of inspiration comes from a quote that was offered by three-time CoLab winner Dennis Peterson:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” –  Buckminster Fuller

What are you most hoping to get out of the upcoming Climate CoLab conference?

We expect to enjoy meeting many interesting and creative people, develop new relationships and create opportunities for future collaboration. We hope that an implementer will see that a small amount of support for our work could result in very large, long-term positive results.

Check out the winning proposal here and meet the team at Climate CoLab’s Crowds & Climate Conference, Nov 6-7 at MIT!

See other Spotlights of Climate CoLab winners, Fellows and Advisors here: