Podcast: Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment

February 3, 2015

Joining me from Washington, D.C. for the latest edition of the freshwater Talk podcast is Ben Grumbles. Ben has been on the move recently, transitioning from his position as the President of the US Water Alliance to an exciting new role as Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment.

His 25 years of experience in water and environmental policy includes his work as the longest-serving administrator for the EPA where he launched the water efficiency labeling program Water Sense. He also spent time at Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality addressing issues like air quality, energy policy and waste management. He has served on several boards including the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Science. Despite having Grumbles as a last name, Ben has built an impressive reputation as being approachable, collaborative and innovative.

At the core of Ben’s reputation is his holistic “One Water” approach, which he uses to unleash the power of collaboration. As he states, “Our challenge is to find common ground – and there is a lot of common ground.”

Ben’s fixation with uniting many different people and perspectives to find a sustainable solution is impressive. His focus on harnessing diverse opinions to discover, develop and implement policies that endure is awe-inspiring. As a regulator, some policies happen by using fear tactics. But as he so elegantly puts it, “Successful collaborations need to rise above fear and reach that magic level of trust.

Our discussion is rooted in policy and politics, addressing simpler issues like regulating water usage to the more complicated task of reshaping our county’s perspective on water and priorities to invest in modernizing our infrastructure. We discuss difficult challenges like the global water crisis, the cost implications of desalination and strategies for fracking. And at the heart of our conversation is finding solutions together.

“The fundamental truth is that water connects us, water connects every single one of us,” Ben saysHe is of course, right. I’m looking forward to the new collaborations, conversations and changes Ben will make in his new role.

Join us for the next podcast in which I’ll speak with Dr. Peter Gleick from the Pacific Institute. Wired Magazine featured Dr. Gleick as “One of 15 people the President should listen to.” And now you will have an exclusive opportunity to listen to him, too.

Yours in conservation,
Joe Whitworth

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