Happy April Fools’ Day! ¡Feliz el día de tontos de abril
If you are looking for a frivolous April Fools’ Day post, you’ll have to look elsewhere, such as my WaterWired blog, where I annually relive my high school days by posting my annual example of puerile humor. But here I am playing it straight.
I trust that Spring is en route, wherever you are. And I’m hoping that you’ll get sufficient spring runoff, but not in unmanageable amounts. We’re actually having sun here in western Oregon. The question is: how long will it last? It will be gone by the time I finish this.
Tomorrow I head north to Alaska to attend the annual conference of the Alaska State Section. President Chris Arp invited me to come and I can’t pass up a chance to visit the Last Frontier. In May 2009 I attended the excellent Anchorage conference, Managing Water Resources and Development in a Changing Climate, that Michael R. Lilly (General Chair) and Horacio Toniolo (Technical Chair) convened. But it has been exactly 25 years since I visited the interior of the state and that was to attend the AWRA’s Cold Regions Hydrology Symposium chaired by Douglas Kane at UAF. So it has been AWRA that has always brought me to Alaska. The current conference will meet at the Chena Hot Springs Resort about 90 minutes’ drive from Fairbanks. I had better bring my warm clothes, although I’m sure the locals will think it balmy. Lucky I used to live in Truckee, CA.
Climate Change Adaptation and AWRA’s Spring Specialty Conference
Right now I am listening to Science Friday on NPR and Ira Flatow and his guest, journalist Mark Hertsgaard, are discussing climate change adaptation. Hertsgaard is the author of Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, and he just mentioned that the Dutch have a 200-year plan to adapt to climate change. And meanwhile, we’re thinking of legislating global warming out of existence.
But no mind – just attend our Spring Specialty Conference, Managing Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources: Adaptation Issues, Options and Strategies, is almost upon us. The program looks superb and there are 165 registrants as of today. I want to thank General Chair C. Mark Dunning, Technical Co-Chairs Jerry Sehlke and J. Rolf Olsen and the entire organizing committee: Carol R. Collier, Ari Michelsen, Kathleen D. White, Lisa Engelman, Noel R. Gollehon, David Eslinger, Christopher M. DeChantal, and Karen Metchis for all their hard work in assembling the conference. I will be attending and hope to see you there. I’ll try to catch a game at Camden Yards between the Orioles and Twins.
Annual Water Resources Conference
Planning for our 47th Annual Water Resources Conference in Albuquerque, 7-10 November, is progressing nicely. Abstracts are due 13 May so you have plenty of time to submit one. The 2011 Annual Conference includes over 35 Special Sessions from which to choose. The Special Sessions have been organized by water resources professionals from across the country; topics are timely and relevant, and reflect the diverse interests of AWRA members. And don’t forget that the Fall is a beautiful time in New Mexico. And then there is New Mexican cuisine!
Summer Specialty Conference and IWRM
Curious about IWRM? So am I! If so, be sure to attend our Summer Specialty Conference at the the Snowbird Resort, 27-29 June, Integrated Water Resources Management: The Emperor’s New Clothes or Indispensable Process? A program will be posted imminently. The conference title frivolously asks the question we seek to answer: is IWRM a truly indispensable, useful process for water resources management, or do people employ it because they think it is de rigueur and do not want to appear stupid or incompetent?
Recall that in 2002 the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg called for all countries to establish national Integrated Water Resources Management plans.
So just what is IWRM, and what does it entail?
According to the Global Water Partnership, IWRM is a “process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.” Is such a definition workable?
You’d probably expect me to say that I am really looking forward to this conference. After all, I’m the chair and that is what I am supposed to say, right? But when I say that I am really looking forward to it, it’s not just promotional fluff. Why not? Well, I cast a skeptical eye upon IWRM, just as I do at the word ‘sustainability’. The term IWRM is held up as a water management approach, yet it seems far too unrealistic for implementation. I want to see some real-world applications, monitoring and evaluation, and outcomes assessments of IWRM. I am especially anxious to see its application to groundwater-dominated systems. And can IWRM be modified to account for nonrenewable groundwater development?
So how do we plan to address the efficacy of IWRM? With the following:
- Keynote presentation featuring Steven L. Stockton, P.E., Director of Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Karen Krchnak, Director of International Water Policy, The Nature Conservancy
- Plenary session featuring experts discussing various aspects of IWRM: Dr. Jerry Delli Priscoli, Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and François Brelle, President, French Association for Water, Irrigation and Drainage (invited)
- 24 technical sessions featuring the following aspects of IWRM: water quality, flood management; geomorphology; regional planning, economics, groundwater, utilities management, agriculture, case studies, ecosystems, collaborative modeling, and more!
- A full-day Symposium on Collaborative Modeling for Decision Support organized by the USACE’s Institute for Water Resources and Sandia National Laboratories. This unique symposium will be embedded within the conference and feature presentations on collaborative modeling – also known as shared vision planning or mediated modeling – from around the world.
- Special session featuring UNESCO HELP (Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy) case studies.
- Pre-conference Sunday afternoon workshop, Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling, taught by Vincent Tidwell of Sandia National Laboratories and John Tracy of the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute.
- Special Session on California’s Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning program
- Ample time and space for attendees to network and discuss IWRM and related concepts.
- Planned ‘walking field trip’ to see how the Snowbird Resort manages water at its site
- Closing Plenary Session: IWRM: Quo Vadis? A discussion of what we’ve learned about IWRM and where we need to take IWRM.
- Special guest appearance by The Emperor of IWRM!
The symposium on Collaborative Modeling for Decision Support is unlike anything we’ve ever done at an AWRA conference. It has generated quite a lot of interest. I think we will see more such ventures at future conferences.
You know that AWRA conferences always provide ample opportunities for networking and interaction in a congenial atmosphere and the 2011 Summer Specialty Conference will be no exception. We will employ our highly successful “Ask Me About” program which invites attendees to discuss topics of mutual interest with other attendees.
I look forward to seeing you in Utah this June as we continue AWRA’s august tradition of fostering “Community, Conversation and Connections” between and among professionals working in the nascent field of Integrated Water Resources Management. If you attend only one IWRM conference, this is THE one to attend!
Be on the lookout for the May issue of IMPACT – it’ll have six great IWRM papers.
Be forewarned: if you do not attend, The Emperor of IWRM will find you. And he will be unhappy. AWRA and I cannot assume responsibility for his actions!
That’s it for this message. I’ll leave you with this gem, courtesy of Sam Luoma (retired USGS):
“The biggest problem in the environment is people’s quest to find the biggest problem in the environment.” — Jared Diamond