AWRA Water Blog

May 2011 President’s Message

Michael Campana, AWRA President 2011I trust that Spring has finally sprung wherever you are. And I’m hoping that you’re getting a goodly amount of spring runoff, but not in unmanageable amounts.

This month’s focus on our Summer Specialty Conference, so take a few minutes to read the IWRM articles in this issue. They will give you a good taste of what to expect at the conference, which we will convene next month (June 27-29) at the spectacular Snowbird Resort, easily accessible from Salt Lake City International Airport. It’s a great time of year to be in the Utah mountains, and you will find plenty to do both inside and outside the meeting rooms.

Spring Specialty Conference

We just finished our Spring Specialty Conference, Managing Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources: Adaptation Issues, Options, and Strategies. 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 their hard work. It was an excellent meeting.

Annual Water Resources Conference

Planning for our 47th Annual Water Resources Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 7-10, is progressing nicely. You’ll be reading this message just about the time abstracts are due (May 13) so consider
submitting one (the site usually stays open a few days beyond the posted due date). 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.

Summer Specialty Conference

Curious about IWRM? So am I! If so, be sure to attend our Summer Specialty Conference at the end of June, Integrated Water Resources Management: The Emperor’s New Clothes or Indispensable Process? You’ll find a Program-at-a-Glance elsewhere in this issue. 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 ground water dominated systems. And can IWRM be modified to account for nonrenewable ground water 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).
  • Twenty-four technical sessions featuring the following aspects of IWRM: water quality, flood management; geomorphology; regional planning, economics, ground water, 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 meeting each of 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 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!

El Fin

That’s it for this issue. I expect to be heading to the AWRA Florida Section’s meeting in Key West at the end of July. Quite a contrast to my trip to Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, for the wonderful meeting of AWRA’s Alaska State Section in early April. 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

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