But while most of the summit was filled with talk of new technologies and research tools, massive corporate investments in new supplies and hope for ramped-up conservation measures, an Arizonan who spoke at the four-hour summit offered a more discordant note. Gila River Indian Community Chairman Stephen Ray Lewis — whose tribe controls by far the biggest individual share of CAP water — criticized state and federal officials for leaving tribes out of the seven-state talks looking for ways to save water in the Colorado River Basin.
“It is a glaring misstep that needs to be corrected,” Lewis told the summit, held at the Eisenhower Office Building adjacent to the White House. “We want to be at the table. At our hearts, we’re stewards of the land. When we start talking about innovation, we have very innovative solutions to water management.”
I’m a strong advocate for the collaborative process (Buy my book! Available in September!). But this is a huge weakness. The risk to those left out is obvious, but failure to be properly inclusive also jeopardizes the process itself. We’ve seen time and again that collaboration without all the right people in the room yields less robust results. (I devote a whole chapter to this issue.)