TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 11 – 17 October 2014

October 17, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I will be heading to Vancouver, BC, tomorrow for the Geological Society of America’s 2014Annual Meeting. I’ll be returning on Wednesday, 22 October.

You can download the program and other information here.Vancouver

Dr. Peter Wampler (Oregon State MS & PhD) of Grand Valley State UniversityDr. Peter Knappett (University of Waterloo and University of Tennessee) of Texas A&M and I will be convening an oral Topical Session (T116) titled, Water Contamination and Treatment in Developing Countries.It will be Tuesday, 1 – 5 PM, Room 204 in the Vancouver Convention Centre. I speak at 4:25 PM.  Drop by!

Ready for the Weekly Water News? Click here, and enjoy!

“I’d rather be upstream with a shovel and a ditch than downstream with a decree.” – Western USA water saying (‘wet’ v. ‘paper’ water)

‘It’s like déjà vu all over again.’ That’s what the renowned English scholar Yogi Berra might say had he read the following story in the 6 October 2014 edition of the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger: 

 Is Memphis Stealing Water from Mississippi?

Mississippi officials are renewing allegations that Memphis is stealing water from the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused in 2010 to consider a similar claim.

The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reports that Mississippi is seeking at least $615 million in damages. That’s less than half the previous claim of $1.3 billion.

Mississippi alleges that Memphis’ wells have created “cones of depression” in the water table that suck water from Mississippi into Tennessee. It estimates that Memphis has “forcibly” taken 252 billion gallons of water since 1985.

Memphis, its city-owned utility system and the state of Tennessee filed responses last month. They say Mississippi’s claims contradict science and legal precedent. They also say the aquifer is an interstate resource to which no state can claim ownership without formal apportionment.

The aforementioned story was taken from the one written by Tom Charlier, the Commercial-Appeal reporter who’s been covering this story from the beginning. It was he who called me a number of years ago and told me of this story. He wanted some professional input since many of the local hydrogeologists were reluctant to comment. My interest was whetted. Why? It was a:

1) Transboundary groundwater dispute between two US states;

2) Water quantity fight, something more akin to the Western US (apologies to the ACF Basin);

3) Dispute involving groundwater occurring in an area with plenty of surface water (c. 50 inches of annual precipitation, bordering one of the largest rivers in the world);

4) Situation I expect to see more of in the future (fighting over groundwater); and

5) Remarkable opportunity to be proactive by devising a compact (first groundwater-only compact in the US!) and establishing an interstate regional commission to govern, manage, and protect an exceptional groundwater resource.

In fairness, the three riparians (Arkansas is the third party) were in talks to allocate water in the Memphis Sand aquifer, but then Mississippi withdrew and decided to sue. Disputes between US states involving groundwater have occurred but have revolved around groundwater – surface water interactions, such as ‘stealing’ streamflow.

I’ve posted about this story a number of times on my WaterWired blog, the last one being 6 November 2013. Here are a few other recent posts: 26 April 2012 and 17 April 2012 and a post from 26 January 2010 that contains the Supreme Court action and links to previous posts.

By the way, my water lawyer friends tell me that the lack of a Supreme Court decision was disappointing, as many (in the USA and elsewhere) were awaiting a landmark ruling on groundwater.

MS aquiferIn a nutshell: the water from the Memphis Sand aquifer (the water surce in question) had never been allocated among the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas so how could Mississippi claim that its groundwater had been stolen by Memphis? And how did they come up with the value of the water lost?

In an intereesting development, University of Memphis faculty members Brian Waldron and Daniel Larsen, claimed that the situation could be reversed – that pumping in Mississippi could have reduced the flow of groundwater into Tennessee. Here is Tom Charlier’s story about their work.

I met Brian last November at the AWRA Annual meeting in Portland and he told me that their paper was to be published soon in JAWRA. Well, it’s here!

Download MS_Memphis_GW

‘Pre-Development Groundwater Conditions Surrounding Memphis, Tennessee: Controversy and Unexpected Outcomes’, by Brian Waldron and Daniel Larsen, Journal of the American Water Resources Association(JAWRA) 1-21. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12240 (2014)

Abstract

Reliance on groundwater resources by differing governing bodies can create transboundary disputes raising questions of ownership and apportionment as the resource becomes strained through overuse or threatened by contamination. Transboundary disputes exist at varying scales, from conflicts between countries to smaller disputes between intrastate jurisdictions. In 2005 within the United States, the State of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against its political neighbor and their utility, the City of Memphis and Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, for groundwater deemed owned by the State of Mississippi to be wrongfully diverted across the state line and into Tennessee by the defendants. The basis of the lawsuit was potentiometric maps of groundwater levels for the Memphis aquifer that showed under suggested pre-development conditions no flow occurring across the Mississippi-Tennessee state line, but subsequent historic potentiometric maps show a cone of depression under the City of Memphis with a clear northwesterly gradient from Mississippi into Tennessee. The suggested pre-development conditions were derived from limited groundwater level observations between 41 and 74 years post-development. A new pre-development map is constructed using historic records that range 0-17 years post-development that shows the natural flow is northwesterly from Mississippi into Tennessee and transboundary groundwater quantities have actually decreased since pre-development conditions.

Below are maps that Waldron provided me a few years ago. The first one shows pre-development conditions and the second shows 2007 (development) conditions. Flow to the northwest from Misssissippi into the Memphis area and Tennessee occurred prior to development.

Predevlopment1

The flow into the Memphis area and Tennessee appears to have been reduced by the development.

Predevlpment2

Waldron and Larsen concluded that the flow in the Memphis area had been reduced by about 40,000 cubic meters per day or 12,000 acre-feet per year. See the paper for more information.

Maybe we will get that desired Supreme Court decision, and/or see something along the lines of (5) above.

Perhaps it’s time to call Tom Charlier.

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” - attributed to Yogi Berra 

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 4 – 10 October 2014

October 10, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Great news about the Nobel Peace Prize – nothing like good news on a Friday! It was awarded to (from The Verge):

Kailash Satyarthi and 17-year-old Malala Yousafzay have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the decision at a press conference today in Oslo. Satyarthi, an Indian, and Yousafzay, from Pakistan, will share an award of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million). With today’s award, Yousafzay — widely referred to simply as Malala — becomes the youngest to ever win the Peace Prize.

And now here is the weekly water news!

Enjoy!

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 September – 3 October 2014

October 3, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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bottleThis week’s featured visual is Ogallala Water, a bottled water from the mind of Gayle Leonard. The business model is unusual: with each passing year, the amount of water in the bottle declines. It’s already hitting the shelves with 30% less! Wait’ll 2030!

I bet it goes well with Circle of Blue journalist Brett Walton’s last pie of the summer, a blueberry-pecan-buttermilk concoction that had those of us on his Twitter salivating. Wonder if hepie has tried marionberry?

Click here for the weekly news summary.

Enjoy!

“It’s not true that you never learn from history. You do, but then you forget.” – Martin Wolf on The Diane Rehm Show

JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – October 2014

October 1, 2014 | Posted by admin
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JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – October 2014

Technical Papers:

Caruso analyzes stream characteristics in a mountain watershed in southwestern Colorado and develops a three-level hierarchical classification scheme using national datasets to demonstrate jurisdictional evaluation as “waters of the United States” under U.S. Clean Water Act Section 404 at the watershed scale.

Daraio et al., in two companion papers, use available downscaled climate projections and land use change simulations to simulate the potential effects on average daily stream temperature. They then develop a stochastic hourly stream temperature model to estimate probability of exceeding given threshold temperature to assess potential impacts on freshwater mussels in the upper Tar River, North Carolina.

Zegre et al. present a multiscale evaluation to establish the nature of hydrologic impacts associated with mountaintop removal mining.

Wolaver et al. estimate potential economic impacts of environmental flows for five freshwater unionid mussels in three Central Texas basins (Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe-San Antonio Rivers) that encompass 36% of Texas.

Sarlak presents nonparametric to reconstruct streamflow ensembles from tree-ring data in Filyos River region, Turkey.

Sood and Smakhtin show how, globally, desalination with renewable energy can become a viable option to replace domestic and industrial water demand in the 100-km coastal belt by 2050.

Kenner et al. present data showing the atmosphere is a potential consistent source of acetone, benzene, and MTBE to urban streams.

Li et al. develop a recourse-based interval fuzzy programming (RIFP) model for tackling uncertainties in an effluent trading program.

Salman et al. address an ongoing challenge in water governance by examining how profitability at both the farm and basin levels is affected by various water appropriation systems in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin.

Dile and Srinivasan assess the applicability of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) climate data in modeling the hydrology of the Upper Blue Nile basin.

Citizen Science Apps and More…

September 29, 2014 | Posted by cmccrehin
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Pierre Glynn and Kristine Stepenuck Answer Questions from Recent AWRA Webinar on Citizen Science

CrowdHydrology is an example of Citizen Science.

CrowdHydrology is an example of Citizen Science.

Pierre: Before we start, I want to repeat my definition of “Citizen Science” because I think it is important to my answers below. Although targeted to improving the management of natural resources and environments, my definition is probably broader than that of other folks in the “Citizen Science” community. From my perspective, Citizen Science represents “an engagement from members of the public, often, but not always, in collaboration with credentialed technical experts, to observe, analyze, and/or understand natural resources and environments for the benefit of science and society. The participating members of the public are usually volunteers. The engagement must have a scientific basis, meaning that it must seek honest pursuit of greater knowledge.”

Q: Do you know of any legal challenges to data collected by citizen scientists? Outcomes?

Kris: Although I am not aware of any lawsuits, some states have taken a proactive stance on this by establishing credible data laws. Ohio is the most prominent state with such a law. My understanding is that it has severely limited data collection by non-agency individuals due to there being quite a few requirements for having certification at higher levels. I believe Iowa also has such a law. There is also a new white paper on the liability of citizen science data that might be of interest. It’s available here.

Pierre: I haven’t heard of legal challenges to data collected by Citizen Scientists.  My impression is that challenges to using Citizen Science data are made more informally, before the data are actually put to use.  That does not mean that there aren’t legal barriers to Citizen Science data, at a minimum  to ensure appropriate quality control, to protect privacy and so forth.  During the webinar, I mentioned that members of the U.S. Congress in 1994 were upset about the Breeding Bird Survey (now a USGS program) and the fact that the data were collected by volunteers. They compared the effort to that of “an environmental gestapo” that was going to trample on people’s private lands.  I provide a pdf of a short letter on the issue by Root and Alpert.

Q: How effective are the programs funded less than $125,000?

Kris: I didn’t run the analyses using results from programs with budgets less than that, but, as I used budget in its entirety in the regressions, what I do know is that there is some evidence that budget doesn’t matter for achieving outcomes related to waterbody protection and restoration. Specifically, this includes having volunteer data be used to help a waterbody gain protected status, to alter land uses, to protect undeveloped land and/or to obtain funding for restoration or protection of a waterbody. The regression explains only 22% of the variance in the model, but it is significant at p<0.05.

Pierre: The answer probably depends on the expectations for the “program.”  If the expectations are limited in time and space and otherwise, “effectiveness” could be extremely high.  For example, $125,000 could fund lots of projects of the “bucket brigade” type that take samples of suspected atmospheric contamination caused by industrial or other sources in given neighborhoods and send them to certified labs and/or agencies for analysis.  It could also fund a lot of “watershed walks” to identify potential water pollution sources and provide samples to appropriate agencies.  However, $125,000 might not go very far in supporting a long-term, regional-scale, well and fully characterized and QA/QC’d, water-quality monitoring program with consistent sampling and analysis that also has complete archiving and accessibility of data and metadata.  But even then, $125,000 might still provide very significant value especially if the funded effort or program was well coordinated with other entities.

Q: Can you give specific examples on how citizen scientists can be involved with the modeling aspects of a program? Citizen scientists may not have access to software, or may not have the expertise.

Pierre:  It’s true that Citizen Scientists may not personally have access to “modeling software” and/or may not have the expertise to conduct numerical modeling on their own.  But that does not mean that they can’t be involved or contribute to “modeling”.   There are many members of the public that could potentially, usefully, participate in “modeling”: (1) raising questions and critiquing study designs; (2) analyzing modeling results, scenarios, and assumptions; (3) helping develop or critique conceptual models by providing local/historical knowledge; (4) provoking new information syntheses and assessments; (5) encouraging collection of additional data; (6) converting numerical models into simulation games or (7) adding user-friendly interfaces to improve public understanding and engagement.

There is an increasing realization that the improved management of natural resources and environments, including the management of water resources, often extends beyond the capabilities of any single set of experts or single professional organization with a narrow disciplinary focus. The issues are complex, and expert “solutions” often have a high degree of uncertainty.  Structured public engagement, such as done through Citizen Science and “participatory modeling,” can help gain public understanding of the issues, adoption of science-informed solutions and follow-through to policy and management actions.  “Participatory modeling” and “Modeling with stakeholders” are becoming an increasingly important part of “Integrated Environmental Modeling” (IEM).  This can be seen in the agenda of the recent IEMSs conference and in the recent “IEM roadmap” article by Laniak et. al.

I attach a number of reprints that may be of interest: Voinov and Bousquet (2010); Voinov et al (2008); Cockerill et al. (JAWRA; 2006; the paper I mentioned during the webinar), and two recent papers by Carmona et al (2013). 

Q: How many of the programs evaluated both the participant’s perceptions (pre and post) as well as the success of the programs?

Kris: This is not something I have studied in the research I presented. In general, I would say very few carry out this level of evaluation.

Pierre: I believe there are increasing efforts to formally evaluate Citizen Science programs, as well as the perceptions and knowledge of participants both before and after their participation.  See for example, the Carmona et al (2013) and Cockerill et al. (2006) papers.

Q.  Should evaluation plans be important elements of citizen science programs?

Kris: Absolutely! All too often we develop monitoring programs to evaluate health of the environment, but we fail to evaluate the program itself. The Extension Volunteer Monitoring Network has developed a series of online learning modules designed to help volunteer water monitoring programs grow and develop over time. We have a module about carrying out effective program evaluation. There is also a series of learning modules in this “Guide for Growing Programs.”

Pierre: I agree with Kris, and am glad to see her link to the Extension Volunteering Monitoring Network.  The web site has lots of useful and interesting information. I would also add that AWRA members interested in Citizen Science and Volunteer Watershed Monitoring should consider attending the conferences sponsored by the National Water Quality Council, such as the one that was held this year in Cincinnati.  It had lots of sessions and presentations on Volunteer Watershed Monitoring.

Q: Is there a publicly available list for the programs that Kristine studied?

Kris: Yes, the National Water Quality Monitoring Council has the list (and more).

Q: Is there any data available that addresses if social media or apps enhance the volunteer experience or willingness to participate?

Kris: In regard to peer-reviewed literature on citizen science/volunteer monitoring, I am not familiar with any articles about this. A quick article search on Google Scholar revealed there may be literature on this across the broader field of volunteering, however. There is a list of apps for volunteer water quality monitoring available here (see discussion #6 especially)

Pierre: The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is a leader in the development of Citizen Science and has developed a number of apps.

Q: Pierre…what’s a good journal to get published citizen science projects and Kris have you published any of your results in a Journal? If yes, which one?

Kris: My results are not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal. I am working on the manuscript this fall and hope to have the results published in the next year or so.

Pierre: I was a co-author on the Laniak et al. (2013) “IEM roadmap” paper published in the journal “Environmental Modelling and Software” (EMS), as well as on an earlier EPA workshop report (Moore et al, 2012) that led to the roadmap article.  I also recently published a proceedings paper (Glynn, 2014) for the recent IEMSs conference that examines human cognitive biases and heuristics and their potential role in Integrated Environmental Modeling, and in science in general: participatory modeling is discussed as one of the elements needed to address human biases.

Works in progress:  I have a draft paper that I’ve written (together with USGS co-authors Harry Jenter, Carl Shapiro and David Govoni) that describes the conceptual framework for Citizen Science (and its benefits and challenges) that I presented during the AWRA webinar.  We expect to submit it to a journal in the next few weeks.  I am also currently contributing to a position paper on “Modeling with Stakeholders” destined led by Alexey Voinov of the Netherlands.  Lastly, I am leading a review of the USA National Phenology Network (a network that records the timing of biological events, and that has a significant “Citizen Science” component) that may end up published as a USGS report.

Journals for Citizen Science:  Articles on “Citizen Science” are being published in a very wide range of journals, including JAWRA (e.g. Cockerill et al, 2006).  Many articles are in journals that have either an ecological or an environmental perspective (e.g. Ecology and Society, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Journal of Environmental Management).

Q: Will this presentation be archived so that we can reference back to it at a later date?

Kris and Pierre: Yes, the presentation will be archived for access by AWRA members and for folks who attended the Sept 16, 2014 webinar.

Note: AWRA members can access the webinar archive by logging in to the AWRA website and then clicking on AWRA webinars. Non-members can email christine@awra.org to request access.

Q: Can we get Kristine’s email address to contact her at a later date with additional questions?

Kris: kfstepenuck@wisc.edu

Pierre: And here’s mine pglynn@usgs.gov

Q: Thanks SO much to everyone for presenting and putting on this wonderful webinar – very exciting!!!

Kris and Pierre: You’re most welcome.  We appreciated the opportunity to give the webinar.

Possible Citizen-Science related session at November 2015 AWRA meeting: Lisa Beutler and Pierre Glynn have just started discussing this possibility and would welcome suggestions and indications of interest.

AWRA’s next webinar, titled “Flood Risk and Aging Inland Waterway Infrastructure” will be presented on October 9, 2014 at 1pm ET. These webinars are complimentary for all AWRA members. For more information and to register click here.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 20 – 26 September 2014

September 26, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The Golden State Warriors of the NBA have released the plans for their new arena in Nba_e_warriors11_600x400downtown San Francisco. If it doesn’t look like a toilet to you, then I don’t know what to say.

The nickname for it is ‘The Can’. I’m thinking that it would be a great symbol forWorld Toilet Day (19 November, by the way).

20140924__SJM-WEBWARRIORS-0925~1_500The team says that the drawings are preliminary and do not necessarily depict the final design.

Uh-huh.

Click here to read the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

“Water is three things — local, local, and local.” -Margaret ‘Maggie’ Catley-Carlson (see my post here: http://bit.ly/1ojpHFP)

All Politics Is Local. How About Water? Not So Much

September 25, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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maggieIntroduction
Politics is local? Apologies to Tip O’Neill.

So what prompted this post?

Yesterday I received the following Tweet from the Canadian Water Network reporting on the words of Margaret ‘Maggie’ Catley-Carlson, one of the giants of global water [emboldening mine]:

“Water is three things — local, local and local” Maggie Catley-Carlson — She’s on our Board and our hero too @jcganter ! #CWNSYP

I have met Maggie on three occasions and was impressed on every occasion. A smart, articulate WaterWonk. Yes, a hero, for sure.

I have heard for years that water is a local issue. I have heard it from experts, non-experts, WaterWonk wannabes, and their ilk. I think it’s folly to assume that water is entirely or always a local issue. Governance and management issues? Yes, in most cases.

I do want to make it clear that in this post I am talking about community water supply because it is often in that context that I’ve heard the word ‘local’ used. It’s possible that this post might seem trivial to some of you. I hope so.

Local and Non-Local
The Tweet got me thinking – I have never believed that water is entirely a local issue and so maybe it’s time to write about it. I am not here to criticize what Maggie said because I don’t know all that she said. All I know is those eight words passed between her lips at some point and the CWN reported them. Keep in mind that my training is that of a physical hydrologist, so my first inclination is to think of the water supply itself – is that local?  And what islocal?

When I read that Tweet I quickly came up with a number of water supply scenarios that are (seemingly) patently non-local. The first two that came to mind were Southern California (SoCal) and New York City. The former gets its water sources both locally and regionally; the latter’s sources are regional. So what makes a water surce local or non-local? If a water source is derived outside a water supply agency’s political boundaries and/or its physical watershed or is otherwise beyond its control, then it’s non-local.

Southern California and the Colorado River Basin
Take SoCal – specifically, the City of Los Angeles. Much of its water comes from Northern California (NorCal), the Owens Valley (OV), and the Colorado River Basin (CRB). The latter extends to Wyoming; see the map. The stippled areas at the lower left are the regions of SoCal supplied by the CRB. All the aforementioned LA sources – NorCal, CRB and OV – are beyond the city’s political boundaries and physical watershed and its control.

CRBSmap

But if you have an issue with your SoCal water, you contact your local purveyor – which could be the City of Los Angeles (LADWP), the City of San Diego, Orange County, City of XYZ, etc. These and other agencies are governed and managed locally, which is they way it should be. Who wants to have someone in Evanston, WY, make decisions about LA’s water system? You want locals to do the O&M, the planning and management. You want local governance. But also keep in mind that water availability issues may be decided by agents or circumstances far beyond the boundaries, political or watershed, of the City of Los Angeles or SoCal.

The CRB map is instructive in other ways. Note the stippled areas beyond SoCal.  Look at the Denver, Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Cheyenne, and Albuquerque-Middle Rio Grande metro areas. Each of these regions is beyond the CRB but receive water from the CRB. Local? Hardly. But in each of those areas, water management is presumably handled locally.

New York City
New York City, my birthplace, is another well-known case. The NYCDEP supplies 8M customers and all of its water come from beyond its political boundaries, and much of it comes from outside its watershed. The green areas below show the watersheds; the brownish area at the bottom of the map is NYC. But if your water tastes funny or you see a broken water main, you don’t call someone upstate; you call NYCDEP. The system’s management is local. But the source is not.

Nyc_watersupply

It interesting to note that part of NYC’s supply is in the the Delaware River Basin, so the DRB Commission has some control of the NYC water system, as does the State of New York and the EPA.

What About Small-Scale Water Systems?
You’re saying that these are all big systems. What about small systems? Aren’t they local? Not entirely so.

I live in Corvallis - a small city (55,000; 14 square miles) in western Oregon’s lush Willamette ValleyThe city supplies and treats our water and treats our wastewater. Our water comes from two surface sources: the Rock Creek watershed, about 20 miles west in the Oregon Coast Range and the Willamette River, which borders the city to the east and rises in the Cascade Range to the east and south. Most of the supply (c. 70%) comes from the latter. The City owns some land (Corvallis Forest) in the Rock Creek watershed, which is located in the Marys River watershed.

Watershed-map_transp2

The water system is managed and governed locally – no issue there. But although the Corvallis water sources are in watersheds occupied by the City, control of the entire water source is beyond its reach. One could argue (as I would) that Corvallis exerts a great deal of control over the Rock Creek watershed but that is not true of the Willamette River watershed.  FYI: I formerly served on the Rock Creek Watershed Management Advisory Commission.

Truly Local Sources – Are There Any? Groundwater
Can I think of a truly local source? The rural watersheds where I work in Honduras are pretty much all local. The commuities own the land, so certainly the ones at the top of the watershed are local. The City of Portland also comes to mind – it’s close to being local, but probably no cigar. Up until about 15 years ago, Albuquerque was pretty close to a locally-sourced system. It used 100% groundwater from the Albuquerque Basin, but then again, some of the groundwater might have been recharged from outside the surface watershed.

The latter illustrates a great point. Groundwatersheds differ from surface watersheds, and even in a given area, the groundwatersheds are not the same.

Below is a vertical geologic cross section below Memphis, TN. The beige areas are the aquifers; the blue, the confining (low permeability) units. Let’s say you drill a well below Memphis into the Memphis Sand aquifer. That water might come from far outside the greater Memphis area. Then you move 100 feet away and drill a well into the Cretaceous aquifer. The two wells are in virtually the same location on the land surface but likely have greatly disparate source areas.

6a00d8341bf80a53ef00e550228f1b8834-800wi

My Ten Cents
Ahhh, ambivalence! As with most things involving water, the local v. non-local water issue is not cut-and-dry. It depends upon the issue. And how do you define ‘local’? So water can be local (which must be defined, of course). But it also can have a non-local component. As with everything else about water, you need to define your terms and know what you’re talking about.

And keep in mind that even if a community has a truly local water source, circumstances (regulations, water rights, growth, etc.) outside the source area can exert strong control over ‘local’ water issues.

Politics? That’s another issue!

“All politics is local. All water issues are not.” - Michael E. Campana (apologies to Tip O’Neill)

Martha Corozzi Narvaez, AWRA President-Elect, 2015

Martha Corrozi Narvaez, AWRA President-Elect, 2015

Martha Corrozi-Narvaez, an associate policy scientist at the University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency (WRA), was recently elected AWRA president-elect and will become president of the organization in 2016. She will officially assume the office of president-elect on January 1, 2015.

January 1, 2015 will also see AWRA member John Tracy, director of the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Idaho in Boise, begin his tenure as president of the organization, replacing C. Mark Dunning, senior project manager with CDM Federal Programs, who will become immediate past president. Newly elected National Board of Director’s members Lisa Beutler, MWH Global and Wayne Wright, GeoEngineers, will also assume their seats on that day.

Narvaez has served AWRA on local and national levels, and has held positions in the public sector, as well as consulting and her current position in academia. After receiving the news of her election, Narvaez agreed to take a few moments to tell AWRA members a bit about the goals she has for her tenure as an AWRA officer.

How does it feel to be elected president-elect of AWRA? I’m honored to be elected president-elect of AWRA. I have been part of this organization for many years.  I have worked with numerous members and the AWRA staff in a variety of roles and the people involved with this group are amazing. They are intelligent, talented, forward-thinking and involved, and I am happy to be able to be part of the team that is leading this incredible group.

What are the issues or goals that you plan to address during your year as AWRA President? Overall, I feel that it is important to address the most pressing water resource issues and to continue AWRA’s strong reputation as a multi-disciplinary water resources association that is well-respected and inclusive of students and professionals.

More specifically, I believe it is critical for AWRA to be an organization that is attractive to all levels of professionals in the water resources field, cutting across generations as well as disciplines. It is important for AWRA to continue the practices that have been successful while also being flexible in the way we provide information, present our science, and network with each to other. The use of technology and finding new and innovative ways to reach existing and potential members is critical for AWRA to be the preeminent association for young and established water resource professionals.

I would also like to bring greater recognition to, and form a stronger connection with, the state sections. The individuals that make up these groups are experts in the field, connected in their communities, and valuable assets to our association. I would like to see this relationship strengthened.

What will you do over the next year to ensure your goals can be achieved? AWRA has an incredible membership, board and staff who do an amazing job of meeting the mission of the organization and bringing the most important water resource issues to the forefront. I believe that working collaboratively with these individuals and making decisions as a whole for the good of the association is critical. I will work in partnership with these groups so that we can collectively steer the association in the direction we believe is best for our membership and the future of the association.

Where would you like to see AWRA once you finish your term as president? I would like to see AWRA expand its reach among national and international water resource students and professionals. It is vital for membership to grow and for AWRA to be at the forefront of water resource issues both nationally and internationally.

A Drought, You Say? No Problem – I’ve Got My Own Well!

September 21, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Mary Frances and I are in Ashland, OR, enjoying our annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Shameless plug: we’re staying at the Chanticleer Inn, a great B & B.  Ashland is a small city (c. 20,000), home of the aforementioned OSF and Southern Oregon University. It is a world-renowned center of extreme running.

HouseThe city gets its water supply from surface water (Ashland Creek, mainly) plus some water from theTalent Irrigation District,which gets shut off on 22 September. The demand right now is somewhere around 4 MGD. The area is experiencing a drought,and although there are no mandatory conservation measures, the city is encouraging its residents to be judicious in their water use.

That leads me to the focal point of today’s post. When Mary Frances and I took aWater.well recent morning walk among the upscale residences here we encountered a lushly-landscaped home (not the only one, by the way) prominently displaying the sign you see to the right.

I have seen signs like this before, usually in areas where there are drought restrictions imposed by utilities and/or municipalities.

If people are about, I usually ask them why they have the sign, although I generally know why. In this case, no one was present so I just snapped a photo.

My experience tells me that people with these signs in an area where water is short are saying something like:

Hey don’t hassle me about my lawn (or garden) watering. I’ve got my own well so I am neither impacting the municipal water supply nor exacerbating the water shortage.

Or perhaps, more bluntly,

F**k you, I’m using this water because I can and it’s not affecting your supply.

Whether or not their groundwater pumping is impacting Ashland Creek’s streamflow is irrelevant to me. I just view this as a very selfish attitude, one of ‘I’ve got mine, the rest of you folks can go suck an egg.’

When I lived in New Mexico I would frequently hear this attitude expressed as,

I’m not impacting the water supply. I have my own well.

Yes the well was a legal domestic well – there was no water system – and the person was not necessarily displaying a defiant attitude. But there was no thought as to how their well and their (perhaps) profligate use, along with the thousands of other domestic wells – all unmetered – might be contributing to the dire water situation.

And I’ll close with a wonderful quote from a New Mexican ‘gentleman farmer’ who was asked why he was still irrigating his gorgeous garden and not voluntarily reducing his use in the throes of a drought:

“Because I can.” 


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