TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 8 – 14 October 2016

October 14, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Heavy weather slated for western Oregon this weekend. Winds on the coast could gust up to 90 mph (c. 150 kph). Good weekend for working at home.

Keep those afflicted by Hurricane Matthew in your hearts and open your wallets to those in Haiti and elsewhere. Use Charity Navigator to see where to give and which organizations are most effective at spending your money. Campana

One of these days I will find out where my article on managed aquifer recharge was published. It’s somewhere in the bowels of the International Water Association – likely the print edition The Source magazine. But at least the right picture was used.

No response to my offer to teach a ‘Groundwater 101’ course to our state legislators. It’s still early. After the election, I suspect.

Perhaps I will just direct them to the Portland Water Bureau’s 19 November groundwater workshop.

Earth Science Week ends tomorrow!

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“As in geology, so in social institutions, we may discover the causes of all past changes in the present invariable order of society.” – Henry David Thoreau











This interview is the fourth of a six part series, written/conducted by AWRA President Martha Narvaez, celebrating the role of AWRA Women in Water Resources.

Length of Time in the Water Resources Field
35+ years

Current Positions

  • Senior Advisor, Watershed Management & Policy, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
  • Director, Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES) Department, Drexel University

Positions Held

  • Executive Director, Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) – 1998 – 2014
  • Executive Director, PA Governor’s 21st Century Environment Commission – 1997-1998
  • Director, PADEP Southeast Region Office – 1995-1997
  • Student intern – Vice President– BCM Engineers, Inc. – 1976 – 1995
  • Research Assistant – University of Pennsylvania, Veterinary School and Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), 1973-1976


  • MRP (Regional Planning), University of Pennsylvania, (Ian McHarg’s program) -1977
  • A., Smith College, Biology major, 1973

Honors and Appointments

  • Touchstone Award (1st offered), Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP), 1997
  • Woman of Distinction Award, Philadelphia Business Journal, 1998
  • American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Mary H. Marsh Medal for exemplary contributions to the protection and wise use of the nation’s water resources, 2007
  • S. Army Corps of Engineers Bronze Order of the DeFleury Medal, 2014
  • Delaware Estuary Jonathan Sharp Lifetime Achievement Award, PDE, 2014



How did you get involved in the water resources field? I grew up a “water rat” at the Jersey shore. My freshman year in college was the 1st Earth Day. I was deciding between a major in math or theater (crazy) and was so influenced by Earth Day that I switched to becoming a biology major. While I was working at UPenn, I took a limnology course with Dr. Ruth Patrick. My future was set! I could see a path of using my water and biology interest to make a difference in the environment.

And with AWRA? I had been involved in grad school and a member in my early professional career. In the late 1990’s I was exploring which professional organization I really wanted to dedicate some time. AWRA came out on top. I had been involved in a number of “silo” water/environment organizations, but looking for something that supported holistic watershed science and management and which had a diverse membership. AWRA was it. Members are really genuine.

How has the water resources field changed since you started your career? It has gone from being a male dominated, engineering directed field to one that requires a multiplicity of disciplines (ecology, hydrology, geology, planning, socioeconomics, law, etc.) to effectively manage water resources.  It has gone from a top-down, regulatory-directed program to one that has both top-down and bottom-up aspects. There is an understanding that residents and other stakeholders in a watershed need to be engaged. Trust has to be built. Solutions include grey and green options. You can’t improve the creeks and rivers without changing the way we think about land use.

How will the water resources field change in the next few years? I do believe that climate change will be a huge driver. After big floods and multi-season droughts, there will be a wake-up call.

Biggest career success? Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC)

a) Changing the staff culture to one of openness and inclusion of the basin community.
b) Implementing the Special Protection Waters Program, (keeping the clean water clean).
c) Developing a stringent PCB standard in the estuary that will result in the elimination of fish consumptions advisories for PCBs. Equally important was the development of an implementation plan that created a level playing field for reaching the goal.

Biggest lesson learned in your career? Act like a duck, – stay calm (unruffled) on the surface and paddle like crazy below! It’s usually not as bad in the morning as it looked when you got home from work!

Biggest regret? No big regrets, I’ve had a great run.  I will never get to 10,000 hours on my mandolin! On further thought, here are two:

  • Not getting floodplain reform (stricter regulations) thru DRBC
  • Not getting a low flow program to support instream communities thru DRBC (ran out of time! TNC did a wonderful study supplying the science of flow needs for different stream and river zones, but the policy has not yet followed.

Share a leadership story? Back when I was at BCM, I went to a meeting with some high powered clients with our toxicologist (female) and a wetland scientist (male). The clients assumed he was in charge.  Instead of making a big deal, I let the wetland scientist take the lead. After a few minutes, it was obvious that he was not the manager and they turned their attention to me.  I think that if I had made a big deal in the beginning and actively took over the meeting, the clients (all male) would have been turned off.

Biggest challenge as a woman in the business? Finding that point of balance – assertive when necessary, but not too assertive. Can’t let them take advantage of you, but you also need to fit in and be team player.

One piece of advice you wish someone told you early on in your career? Let people know you are interested (sitting on a non-profit board, professional organization, new job assignment, etc.). It makes a difference if people know that you are interested and willing to engage. You’ll be surprised how soon you get asked to step up.

True inspiration?

  • Ruth Patrick
  • My staff at DEP and DRBC and the “30-somethings” I work with now.
  • Every time I look out across a river or out to sea.

As mentioned, this is a six-part series on AWRA’s Women in Water. Watch for the fifth interview next month with AWRA Past President Jan Bowers.

Author Martha Narvaez is AWRA’s President. Email:

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 1 – 7 October 2016

October 7, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb093fda38970d-300wiThe accompanying picture was taken last week in front of my boyhood home. No, it’s not in Harlan County, KentuckyTry Long Island, New York. Yes, the old neighborhood has changed since I left in 1970.

I did not ring the bell.

My wife’s family is from Kentucky. They’re okay with all this.

By the way, the ‘attack bird’ is a pigeon.

See today’s quote.

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“I grew up in Kentucky, but I did not grow up like that. I had heat, and I didn’t have to shoot my dinner or anything.” – Jennifer Lawrence


October 3, 2016 | Posted by Susan Scalia
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[access full table of contents here: ]

Wigington discusses who should be a journal article author.

Shanley et al. evaluated long-term trends and predictors of groundwater levels of two well-instrumented northern New England forested headwater glacial aquifers.

Garrapu et al. analyzed annual peak streamflows across western Canada to examine the impact of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on annual flood risk.

McCabe and Wolock examined long-term variability and trends in water-year runoff efficiency in the conterminous United States.

Feng et al. evaluated climate trends and variability at different time scales and their relationships to variations in terrestrial freshwater export into the eastern US coastal region.

Littell et al. developed Columbia River streamflow reconstructions using a network of existing, new, and updated tree-ring records sensitive to the main climatic factors governing discharge.

Rajagopal and Harpold examined the accuracy of daily temperature thresholds for predicting precipitation phase and evaluated the regions and conditions in which typical temperature-based precipitation phase predictions are most suited.

Tullos et al. evaluated a series of frequently raised concerns about dam removal using a dam-removal science database and supplemental information sources.

Carroll and Warwick used a dynamic numerical model to conceptualize mercury fate and transport in semi-arid stream and reservoir.

Konrad and Munn used monitoring data to evaluate dissolved inorganic nitrogen and other environmental factors as the basis for assessing maximum benthic chlorophyll a in streams across the USA.

Golden et al. developed Boosted Regression Tree models to quantify relationships between landscape attributes and stream nutrient concentrations in a mixed land cover watershed during baseflow conditions.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 24 – 30 September 2016

September 30, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb093d3bbd970d-150wiI hope you are enjoying the last days of Banned Books Week  (25 September – 1 October). My favorite banned book is Steady-State Water Budgets to Evaluate Sustainability of Underground Aquifers Containing Subsurface Ground Water. 

I am enjoying my 50th high school reunion on Long Island at LGAChaminade High School.

Even LaGuardia Airport looked good… Nahhhhhh.

Hard to believe this is the last one of September. Tempus fugit. Yes, I went to a Latin class this morning.

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“There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.” – Marie Curie

Finally – my review of John Fleck’s enlightened and enlightening contribution to Western USA water literature. I can probably drop the modifier ‘Western USA’.
But first…

Disclosure Notice
I have known John for about 20 years and not only consider him a friend but one of thejleck most perceptive writers and thinkers on water and climate issues in the Western USA. He’s also the new Director of the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico, a post I held for almost ten years over two centuries. A brilliant selection by UNM. By the way he did occupy my old office.

Yes, I paid for my copy of the book. And the Colorado River (not the one in Texas) is my favorite river, with the Truckee River (California – Nevada) a close second.


Water Is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West  is the book’s title. It’s based upon a quote widely attributed to Mark Twain, whose ‘quotability’, alleged or otherwise, is perhaps second only to another sage, Yogi Berra. Good title choice – better than ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.’

9781610916790The book saw the light of day a little over a month ago. Its release has been anxiously awaited for a couple of years by Water Wonks and others, mainly in the Western USA. Yours truly is no exception.

And why not? After all, John was going to deliver a book that focused on cooperation, mainly in the Lower Colorado River Basin (LCRB), the downstream portion of arguably the ‘hardest-working’ river in the world. About 40 million people in seven states (aka ‘Seven Sisters’) depend upon the Colorado River for M & I water, power generation, recreation, and irrigation. Oh, yeah, don’t forget the ecosystem and Mexico.

BFD, right? Another book on an over-allocated Western USA river fraught with contention. To read the popular press and Twitter feeds you’d think that the LCRB seemed destined for the gruesome future depicted by Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.  BTW, if I assign that book to my students, a trigger warning is probably required.

But John really delivered on his promise. The book begins with the Colorado River reuniting with its delta. Wait’ll you see how the book ends.

Cooperation. Here we are in the midst of a drought in the American Southwest, with the two great CRB reservoirs, Lakes Mead and Powell, sporting bathtub rings. Collaboration. The ‘Seven Sisters’ of the CRB – California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona – trying to help each other within the constraints of the Colorado River Compact (CRC). Say what?

Of Alfalfa and Groundwater
Take alfalfa – please. Many of us think of alfalfa as that miserable, low-value, water-guzzling plant that is grown to feed cattle, and more recently, to be shipped to Asia so they can feed cattle, too. But it’s more than that. It could help get us through tough times. As John explained how, I found myself nodding my head, “Oh, yeah, I see that.” One of those ‘Who’d-a-thunk-it’ moments.

Remember Garrett Hardin and the Tragedy of the Commons’? All about how a common-pool resource can be despoiled by overuse? Well, forget sheep grazing in a pasture – groundwater is a perfect example of a common-pool Colorado_river_basin_damsresource that can be so depleted. John introduces us the seminal work by the late Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom,who documented what happens when squabbles over groundwater erupt – not between states, mind you, but within a single state – southern California, in this case. The parties involved address the problem without government intervention but first informally, with ‘cheap talk’.

Alas – the power of people just getting together to talk about solving difficult problems.

Of Money, Water, and Power
A well-known Western water adage says that ‘Water flows uphill to money.’ John uses the example of SoCal cities and the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), the largest single water-rights holder in the CRB, to illustrate the fallacy of that adage. The IID still has much of its water even though the SoCal cities have lots of money.

I would argue that the operative adage is ‘Water flows uphill to money or power.’ In this case, prior appropriation has given the power to IID with its prodigious amounts of ‘first in time’ water, which it can lease to cities. So yes, prior appropriation is not a hindrance to ‘moving water’ around.  

Pretty Little Angel Eyes, Lettuce, and Yuma County
I especially enjoyed the discussion of Yuma and Imperial counties and the agricultural powerhouses they have become, thanks to CRB water and the wisdom to eschew alfalfa for lettuce and citrus. Both counties have improved their agricultural water use in recent years and getting more bang for the buck.

Aside: Yuma has long held my fascination for three reasons: 1) I cannot recall ever being in a hotter place – 122 degrees F (50 C); 2) it’s the birthplace of singer-songwriter Curtis Leewho wrote and sung one of my all-time favorites, Pretty Little Angel Eyesand (related to this review) 3) I recall my MS advisor, the brilliant and aptly-named hydrogeologist John W. Harshbarger regaling us with a story about going into Yuma County in the late 1960s or early 1970s and telling (probably ‘demanding’ is more like it) local irrigators to ‘stop wasting so much goddamned water.’ What happened next was not pretty and Dr. John claimed he and his partner were lucky to have escaped with their lives.

More Stories
John has lots more examples of cooperation and collaboration among those in the Lower (mainly) CRB. Los Angeles and San Diego with various irrigation districts. Las Vegas (SNWA) and Arizona. Enviros and water managers. Arizona with just about anyone. USA and Mexico. Federal and state/local officials. ‘Cheap talk’ getting folks on the right track to understanding and cooperation.

What’s amazing is that this is done within the strictures of prior appropriation and the CRC, which over-allocated the CR water and foolishly specified absolute annual volume amounts and not percentages. Ain’t hindsight great!

And don’t forget the people! Terry Fulp, Brad Udall, Mike Connor, Jennifer Pitt, Delphus Carpenter, Manuel Campa, Matt Jenkins, Janet Napolitano, Evan Ward, Gale Norton, Bruce Babbitt, Grace Napolitano, et al.

The End
Who’s left out of the picture when it comes to CRB water? Native Americans. The Salton Sea. But beavers return to the Colorado Delta.

The final chapter is about the most remarkable one I’ve ever read in a book of this type – or any type of book, for that matter. There are some kind words for Albuquerque (where John lives and I did for 17 years – the best years of my life) and even Las Vegas, which is ‘getting by’ on 75% of Nevada’s annual CRC share – 300,000 acre-feet.

What if Lake Mead gets too low? Then come shortages and the question: ‘Who takes the hit?’ John clearly lays out the risks the CRB will face if solutions are not found. He reports that Brad Udall noted that the Law of the River could take a back seat if the will of the public is ignored, to wit:

“I don’t care what you think about the Law of the River, we’re not going to dry up a city of 2 million people.”- Mike King, head, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, referring to Las Vegas  [p. 197 via Brad Udall]

That quote speaks volumes to me. A Colorado state official talking about sparing Las Vegas?

Neither will Phoenix be allowed to lose all its Central Arizona Project water while California gets its full allotment. The public will not buy into that one – not fair.

Despite all the hand-wringing about drought and water crises, just about everyone is getting the water they need. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

My Takeaway
Excellent book! How do I know? I actually feel optimistic about the CRB and its future. John makes an excellent case that cooperation and collaboration is alive and well despite prior appropriation and the Law of the River. It’s the people who are making the difference.

John is a gifted writer; the book is a joy to read. Documentation is thorough. I think I will use this for my US Water Managementclass next Spring.

Last words: I wonder if the ‘Seven Sisters’ will be so cooperative and collaborative if the drought continues for another 5 or 10 years. I’m skeptical, but not as skeptical as I was before I read the book.

One last thing. Many of us are stakeholders in the CRB, regardless of where we live – even if it’s outside the artificial boundaries of the CRB watershed. Think about it.

Maybe John should tackle the Sacramento Bay-Delta next. But that would likely ruin his winning streak. You can use my old office for that one, John. But there’s likely no magic left (unless you have replenished it).

Rejoice and read the book!

Today’s quote? Only one choice…

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need.”
 —You Can’t Always Get What You Want by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 17 – 23 September 2016

September 23, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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See this groundwater video by The Oregonian featuring hydrogeologist extraordinaire Dr. Todd Jarvis, Director (notAssociate Director) of the Institute for Water and Watersheds at OSU.

Check out the ‘underground aquifers’ (according to The Oregonian).

Read OWRD Director Tom Byler’s mea culpa regarding his agency’s lack of oversight of Oregon groundwater levels.

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“We haven’t done as good a job as we should have. If we’d been on our game, we would have been ahead of the game when it comes to those areas.” – Tom Byler, OWRD Director in The Oregonian.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 10 – 16 September 2016

September 16, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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signBack to school next week. My sabbatical abruptly ends. Always great to see the new students and try to maintain their enthusiasm.

Hard to believe that autumn will be here in the northern hemisphere.

I enjoyed my brief stay at theGround Water Protection Council’s 2016 Annual Forum in Orlando. I had to leave after lunch on 13 September and missed the last half od the meeting. But I did find the talks IMG_2037and discussion stimulating. You can view the final agenda here, which also includes the abstracts. My presentation is here.

Even discovered a Carvel at the Orlando International Airport!

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“You’re still teaching?” – Former student from my  days @GWPCorg

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 3 – 9 September 2016

September 9, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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redThis is the Daldykan River near the city of Norilsk in Russia’s Arctic region. It mysteriously turned blood red.

From the ABC news story:

Norilsk is known as one of the most polluted cities on earth, built around factories mostly belonging to the vast metals company Norilsk Nickel. Some Norilsk residents wrote in a local social media group that they believed the river’s biblical shade is linked to runoff from a nearby smelting plant.

Some suggested the color was being produced by wastewater mixed with mineral ore leaking into the river from the Hope Metals Plant.

Lest we be too critical don’t forget our own ‘orange river’ last year.

On a lighter note, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the debut of the TV show Star Trek on NBC.

Yes, I was there but don’t recall much because I was two years old.

Star trek

What a long strange trip it’s been. Kirk

Live long and prosper. Now beam me up, Scotty.

And the word is out – Captain Kirk preferred tap water!


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“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 August – 2 September 2016

September 2, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I never thought I would be able to post this summary on time (more or less) or at all. I returned to San Pedro Sula from the field earlier than expected so I have managed to produce an abbreviated version.

Today Honduras is en fuego like few other times. At 3 PM local time the national team plays here v. Canada. To remain alive in the 2018 World Cup qualifying round, the Catrachos need a win or draw against the Frostbacks, who will face the midday heat (c. Woman93F/34C) and humidity (75%). The heat index is about 113F/45C). Oh, Canada!Note: Honduras won, 2-1.

The picture is of a young Honduran mother standing in front of her open-topped, hand-dug well ‘cased’ with used auto tires. She knows the water is bad for her and her children, but she cannot get anyone’s attention to help her. We are going to rattle some cages for her. This ain’t rocket science folks, this is lack of political will.

She also happens to live among the levees in San Pedro Sula, arguably the most dangerous region in the world’s most dangerous city. But she is also growing crops, having been taught to do so by my friend Rolando López.

There is hope.

I return home late tomorrow night.

To my USA friends – have a safe Labor Day weekend!

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“There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.” – Louis Pasteur


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