June 14, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I am trying something new this week – a separate listing of weekly ‘Water Jobs’ (almost all outside the USA) that is distributed via email by Joshua Newton (email@example.com). You will find this right below the ‘Positions Open’ section, which consists of jobs I have Tweeted.
If you wish to subscribe to the Water Jobs email list, contact Joshua.
I have also added a ‘Water Crisis’ category. When in Rome…
So go ahead and click here to view this week’s water news summary.
“The general public can be divided into two parts: those who think science can do everything, and those who are afraid it will.” - Dixy Lee Ray
Faye Anderson, AWRA Member
“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” Rachel Carson, “The Edge of the Sea” (1955)
We are in the middle of National Oceans Month here in the U.S., with June 8th having just commemorated World Oceans Day internationally (for the sticklers among you: please don’t ask what ‘national oceans’ are, although I’d be glad to talk about National Oceans Policy).
I was lucky enough to be at the Atlantic Ocean’s edge at Assateague Island National Seashore and Ocean City, MD, this past Saturday on the occasion of World Oceans Day, always a thrill for my perpetually landlocked Midwestern mindset.
Facing the awe of the ocean’s edge–and the storms accompanying Tropical Storm Andrea moving up the east coast–the words of Rachel Carson sprang to mind with her simple litmus tests urging me to wonder anew what if I had never seen this before and further, what if I knew I would never get to see it again?
While I believe many around me that day, as well as all around the world’s varied coasts, were similarly being struck by the eternal qualities of their natural surroundings, I’m not so sure many were acutely aware of the commemorative pronouncements of the United Nations and our President. This then can lead many a water professional to reflect and even lament on how we can further raise awareness of water resources – without unbalanced preferential treatment to any one particular aspect of the hydrologic cycle of course – and those actions that are needed to more effectively manage and protect these valued resources we spend our days and nights thinking about.
I slide further down this rabbit hole to one root of this challenge: ATTENTION.
The Ocean City boardwalk with all its fudge, those darn apps on our smart phones and iPads, the perils of the world economy, the state of education in America (K-12 or higher ed, your pick), sequestration and Congress’ aversions to passing budgets, seemingly unending job stress, the kid’s homework, and what dinner will make my household happy tonight? All rivals for our scarce attention, these personal and political concerns seemingly crowding out the individual and collective attention that water resources surely need and deserve.
At least we’ve been taught that attention is scarce, like water is scarce. Yet networks are offering us many new ways to connect with one another, and certainly online attention seems to be abundant everywhere these days: Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. It’s difficult to buy attention anymore, likely because we all have so many choices on what to do with our attention. Human attention is perhaps more abundant than ever but nowadays it really has to be earned–and that takes real time and effort. What seems to matter more to people now are things like trust, transparency, accountability, leadership, and stories that spread–sometimes preferably viral Youtube videos with cute kids and pets.
As water professionals, a tidal shift in our thinking may come when we learn to appreciate that the people we want to communicate with–perhaps even to influence or lead–really want us to put our efforts into building trust, telling stories, and creating real human connections. This holds true for the students in our classrooms, clients at our project meetings, citizens at a public hearing, and our peers at the next conference. Everyone is focusing on content and context trying to decide what is worth their attention–and their action.
In some ways, our goal as a community of professionals with knowledge to share is to make sure they would miss us if we weren’t here. Our presence needs to be ‘memorable’ so that our absence would be noticeable if we folded up our efforts and disappeared. There’s certainly no set of instructions to follow, that I know of, to achieve that and so now more than ever we need more people exploring around the edges and making their contributions. But Rachel Carson seemed to know that over 50 years ago, as she stated in Silent Spring (1962): “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
Faye Anderson is the Vice-President of Curriculum & Learning for a non-profit educational institution serving the needs of government. She is a longtime member of AWRA and her local watershed alliance, and can be found on twitter at twitter.com/LifelongAttempt.
Your ideas, responses, and questions are welcome in the comment area below!
June 8, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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On Saturday 1 June 2013 I did what I do about 20 times per day and posted a Tweet:
There are ‘endangered rivers’ lists; I’m thinking about an ‘endangered aquifers’ list. Why not?@ngwatweets?
But this Tweet was different – it wasn’t just a link to yet another news story about water wars, polluted rivers, etc. I wanted to gauge the interest in an idea. I was serious about this and the Tweeps took me seriously as well. So did the folks on my Facebook page.
Another list? Don’t we have enough of them? And aquifers? Who cares about aquifers except GroundWaterWonks like yours truly? Well, one person who does is Sandra Postel, who proposed the idea just about one year ago. She even nominates some candidates.
There is no question that rivers have more cachet than aquifers. They provide more than just water for human and ecosystem use. They produce power, transportation, recreation, value to real estate (riverfront property, anyone?), beauty, floods, etc. They inspire writers, poets, artists, philosophers, photographers, theologists, and the rest of us. They provide peace, serenity and enhace spirituality.
Aquifers? Hmmm….Well, they provide lots of water for humans and ecosystems, and in some cases, power. Visuals? Hardly – except for the springs, lakes, and streams that they nourish.
But consider that aquifers contain far more freshwater than all the streams and lakes combined. In the USA, groundwater supplies, on average, about 30% of all streamflow. Need some more reasons why aquifers should be afforded the same status as streams and lakes? Read my post, Groundwater: The ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of the Hydrologic Cycle and this NGWA fact sheet.
So what would make an aquifer endangered? Certainly one that is being overexploited, with excessive drawdowns, and that is critical to the local/regional eonomy and/or a significant ecosystem. Parts of the High Plains aquifer (aka Ogallala aquifer) come to mind. Or it might be heavily polluted (Cape Cod aquifer), or in danger of being polluted. Or its recharge area might be threatened with degradation or destruction because of development. This was an issue with the Edwards aquifer a number of years ago. The aquifers beneath my ‘home town’ – Long Island – would qualify as ‘endangered’. Criteria would need to be devloped.
The recent USGS report would provide a good starting point for a list based on water quantity.
Who would do such a list? It needs to be an organization with credibility. I thought of NGWA but I am unsure they would be interested. The USGS has the ability, but would likely decline because the list would be too subjective. Maybe AWRA? An enviornmental group? Not high on my list – credibility issues. A university-affiliated organization?
There are reasons not to have a list. It will be subjective. It won’t do much good. It will create arguments (maybe not bad!). It probably won’t be promoted by many organizations because there are few compelling visuals. Let’s face it, as one of my Tweeps put it: rivers are sexy; aquifers?
Call it what you will – TEAL, MEAL, REAL, or HEAL: ‘The Endangered Aquifer List’, ‘Most Endangered Aquifer List’, Really ‘Endangered Aquifer List’, Highly Endangered Aquifer List’ – whatever.
We need to get aquifers and groundwater more in the public discourse. The proposed list would be one way to do so.
Next? Let’s see the response to this post. Would you find such a list useful? What should the list include, besides the name and location of the aquifer?
“The original lists were probably carved in stone and represented longer periods of time. They contained things like ‘Get More Clay. Make Better Oven.’ ” - David Viscott
June 7, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I am now in the middle of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington at the Red Lion Hotel on the River. I am here along with members of the Organizing Committee for the 2013 AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference, and Ken Reid and Dick Engberg of AWRA HQ to develop the program for theaforementioned conference.
Click here to access the weekly water news summary. Enjoy!
“In the West, when you touch water, you touch everything.” -Wayne N. Aspinall
This issue includes two outstanding featured collections:
Assessing Consumptive Water Use Via Satellite Data, Steven W. Wolff and Bern S. Hinckley, Guest Associate Editors, features the application of and new research on the use of remote sensed data, particularly from satellite-based systems, to assess evapotranspiration in managing water resources. The idea for this collection came from a special session convened at the AWRA 2011 Annual Conference. The eight papers represent two broad categories: application and research. Four papers present work where remotely sensed data were used to help assess real-life management needs related to consumptive water use. Another four papers are more research in nature, presenting specific topics on how to refine or advance the use of remotely sensed data in applied methods.
Collaborative Modeling for Decision Support as a Tool to Implement IWRM, Stacy M. Langsdale, Elizabeth C. Bourget, and Marjan van den Belt, Guest Associate Editors, is based upon talks presented at the AWRA 2011 Summer Specialty Conference, plus additional invited papers. In addition to a transcript of the conference keynote address by Jerome Delli Priscoli, eight papers explore and critically discuss the appropriateness of Collaborative Modeling for Decision Support as a means of doing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The objective is to: (1) develop an understanding of how applications of the method vary in different contexts around the world, and (2) identify commonalities that inform and build a set of common best practices.
This issue also includes book reviews!
Carol Collier, AWRA President
“Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
When did you first find your love of water? It seems that most of us in the water and natural resource fields developed a fondness for the outdoor early in our lives. For me, it was very early and centered around coastal marshes, tidal rivers and bays and boats. I was lucky enough to grow up on the New Jersey shore in an era when it was fine for kids to roam their environs for sun up to sun down without a parent in sight! If I didn’t get a case of poison sumac each summer from wandering around the marshes, there was something wrong. I was taken for my first boat ride when I was 7 months old and still happiest when sailing. Luckily I share the love of the water with my husband, who I met when sailing at age 16.
We have two grown sons who are both Eagle Scouts and love the outdoors. We made every effort we could as they were growing up to give them opportunities to explore different environments, but it was difficult given personal safety/security issues in suburban neighborhoods and competition from multiple indoor enticements like video games.
Personally I’m worried about how the priorities of the youth of today will impact our future environment. On the one hand they have greater exposure to environmental teaching in school and are better recyclers than their parents, but will they have that more rounded understanding of the natural world and a deepseated love of the environment, whether it be mountains, rivers or the sea?
If fewer and fewer of our youth gain this love of nature, what will be the future of local and global conservation? Can there be another ground swell of environmental protection as there was in the late ’60s- early ’70s? Will the environment be a priority?
Every June there is a Delaware River Sojourn which is an eight day trip down the river in canoes and kayaks ( one can do single or multiple days). I love to watch the middle school and high school students who have been brought along by their parents for an “outdoor family adventure”. For the most part they don’t want to be seen with their parents at that age and think it is a lame vacation compared to a trip to the amusement park. At the beginning of the first day there are many unhappy, bored faces. However, after being set loose in a kayak for a day and finding that they must be in control of their destiny, the mood changes. They want to challenge one of the ACA safety patrol members to a race or learn to do an Eskimo roll. They are enjoying their freedom on the river. Getting their feet wet makes all the difference!
What should AWRA be doing to help are youth find that love of water? It is not an area in which we have been very active in the past. With the combination of members in National, state sections and student chapters, we should be able to come up with some good ideas. If there are suitable actives in your area such as the Sojourn, maybe the AWRA section could offer a competion for a free day on the water. Maybe AWRA National could develop an educational page on the website with information that would be of interest to youth and teachers.
I’d like to hear from you on how you developed your love for water and what you think AWRA should be doing to help our youth. Post your thoughts in the comments section of this blog page. Thanks, in advance, for your participation.
What are your plans for the third week in June? Please join me for what is developing into one of our most interesting AWRA two-part conferences.
The first half addresses the issues of Environmental Flows (June 24-25). While a big topic in the West for many years this is a growing concern in the East. The conference will address the different ways of assessing instream flow needs and reservoir conservation releases (and their pros and cons) and how these techniques can be applied to different ecological and hydrologic systems. It will also address some of the points of conflict. As more water is needed for instream flow, the safe yield of river water withdrawals and reservoir storage will be affected. How can these two factors be balanced in a river system?
The second half of the conference is dedicated to the forest/water connection – Healthy Forests=Healthy Waters (June 27-28). As the clean-up of our waterways has changed focus from point to non-point sources of pollution, we realize the importance of land uses and land management in the analysis. In particular, the maintenance and enhancement of our forest systems specifically for protecting our water resources has become a national priority. Sustainable forestry programs have sprung up to protect potable drinking water supplies and improve our urban environments. From an economic perspective, we know it is more cost effective to protect existing high quality waterbodies instead of restoring impaired waters. Forests can play a big role in watershed protection. Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service will be our keynote speaker, discussing his prioritization of forest management for water resources.
On Wednesday, June 26, bridging the two parts of the Conference, will be a choice of activities:
- A field trip titled “Forests, Flows and Faucets” to the Hartford water supply reservoirs, the Farmington River and Great Mountain Forest. It will include a tour of areas not normally open the public, discussion of Hartford’s sustainable forestry program for the watersheds of their reservoirs, fish electro-shocking demonstration and benthic invertebrate sampling, and a forestry lecture and wine and cheese reception at the national forest where there is a chestnut restoration project.
- A workshop titled “SEFA: System for Environmental Flow Analysis.” Topics to be covered include an introduction to and demonstration of the full range of environmental flow assessment techniques, including physical habitat analysis, Tennant method, wetted area method, indicators of hydrologic alteration, percent exceedance, mechanistic models, and many others.
You can attend one or both sections of the conference (good discount rate if you attend both!)
AWRA picked the location of the conference, not only to highlight the sustainable forestry practices in use in the Hartford area, but for its easy accessibility by plane, train and automobile. Plan to come the weekend before and enjoy Mark Twain’s homestead (built a little like a steamship) or the Connecticut and Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains, with the Appalachian Trail, great New England villages, and music at Tanglewood. Stay for 4th of July celebrations in Boston with the Boston Pops on the Charles River Esplanade.
Go to www.AWRA.org for more information. I’ll be there the whole week. Hope to see you there! Carol
PS- there may be a surprise visit be a very important guest. More information to follow.
May 31, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Glad the sunshine followed me home from Saskatoon!
Have a great weekend!
Click here to access the weekly water summary.
“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” – Stein’s Law (??)
May 24, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Headed to Saskatoon, the ‘Paris of the Prairies’, for a joint meeting of the Canadian Water Resources Association, theCanadian Geophysical Union,and the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanograhic Society. Looking forward to it; the CWRA-CGU meeting in Banff last year was quite good.
The Twitter hashtag will be #Congress_2013
To my USA friends, have a great, safe Memorial Day weekend! Recall what we are remembering – not how many sales we’ve been to.
We received about 400 abstracts for the 2013 annual conference! Great!
I’ve added a separate category for this week only: ‘Portland’s Fluoride War’. The anti-fluoridation folks beat the pro-fluoridation folks, 60% – 40%.
Click here to enjoy the weekly water news summary!
“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.” – Douglas Adams
by Katrina Mendrey
There is nothing like writing your thesis to give you serious project envy. For instance, while I was caring for a gaggle of Douglas-fir seedlings potted with various forms and doses of metals in a greenhouse, my dear friend Betsy was trekking around the Cascades classifying a soil on which a rare white flower grows. Granted her sights are on steep, nearly inaccessible slopes, but it just sounds more romantic.
I thought the envy would wear off after I sacrificed my trees and started analyzing my data. Not so much. Now that I’m writing endlessly about metals in plants and soil, it’s worse then ever.
Most recently the source of my envy is SQ Water, a collaborative project between University of Washington students and researchers and citizens of Lomas de Zapallal, a slum in Lima, Peru. The purpose of the project is to design and engineer a fog collection system capable of meeting the community’s water needs and supporting irrigation to revegetate the barren urban landscape.
Admittedly, fog collection systems are nothing new. They’ve existed in the form of trees and natural vegetation for thousands of years. Within the last 30 years, man-made systems using landscape netting have been harvesting fog in places lacking vegetation and access to clean water.
So what’s so special about this project? Well, the same technology employed three decades ago is still being used today. That’s not such a bad thing, except now there are new materials including 3D landscaping mats capable of collecting fog more efficiently. Students, with the help of faculty advisers Susan Bolton (School of Environment and Forest Sciences) and Ben Spencer (College of Built Environments–Landscape Architecture), have tested several of these types of materials using a fog machine in a hoop house at the University of Washington.
But this project doesn’t stop with collecting the water. The group also designed origami storage tanks made of light durable plastic sheets and irrigation systems made from recycled plastic bottles and cotton wicks placed underground to efficiently water plants. Such a system is inexpensive and can be easily transported. In addition, without any fancy parts and materials, the systems could be maintained within the communities that use them.
Going a step further, they’ve also been testing various methods for fog collection from plants irrigated with water from man-made systems. In their hoop house experiment, vines such as grapes have been considered as an additional tool for water collection allowing a community to maximize their resources.
So why the project envy? It’s pertinent…now more than ever. With a growing population of slum dwellers, melting glaciers and an annual precipitation of 10mm a year, Lima is an ideal location to pilot a project such as this. But as water scarcity approaches 52% by 2050, it will be just one of many places in need of creative solutions to depleted water resources.
In the meantime, SQWater is waiting to hear if they will be awarded a P3–People, Prosperity and the Planet grant from the EPA. While fellow competitors at the Phase 1 competition in April voted them best in show, the winner of the $90,000 grant to implement the project has not been announced.
Katrina Mendrey is a student at the University of Washington studying soils, particularly the organic component of soils and is especially interested in biosolids.
If you have questions or comments for Katrina, please leave them in the comment area below.