AWRA Water Blog

June 2011 President’s Message

Floods
In my last missive I said: “I’m hoping that you’re getting a goodly amount of spring runoff, but not in unmanageable amounts.” And then we know what happened in the Mississippi River basin and elsewhere.

Paul VanDevelder, an award-winning Oregon writer, wrote an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times titled, “Mississippi flooding: Let the river run.” It’s provocative, to be sure.

Here is a video from the USACE on what might have happened.

One thing’s for sure: I will finally get around to reading John Barry’s Rising Tide: the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.

I hope the rains have finally stopped here in western Oregon. Seems like the winter rainy season has gone on for too long

Annual Water Resources Conference
Planning for our 47th Annual Water Resources Conference in Albuquerque, 7-10 November, is progressing nicely. Chair Stephanie Moore, Technical Co-chairs Laura Bexfield and Mark Stone, and the entire conference committee are working hard:  about 350 abstracts were received. We will have a meeting with Ken Reid and Dick Engberg in Albuquerque on 13 June to go over details. The keynote speaker will be author/journalist Cynthia Barnett. Those of you who attended the Albuquerque 2007 Annual Conference will remember her as the keynoter. She is a senior writer for Florida Trend magazine and wrote the wonderful book Mirage, which focused on water and land issues in Florida and the Eastern USA. Her new book, Blue Revolution, will be published in late September 2011. Here is the blurb from her WWW site:

In Blue Revolution, award-winning journalist Cynthia Barnett reports on the many ways one of the most water-rich nations on the planet has squandered its way to scarcity, and argues the best solution is also the simplest and least expensive: a water ethic for America.

From backyard waterfalls and grottoes in California to sinkholes swallowing chunks of Florida, Blue Revolution exposes how the nation’s green craze largely missed water – the No. 1 environmental concern of most Americans. But the book is big on inspiration, too. Blue Revolution combines investigative reporting with solutions from around the nation and the globe. From San Antonio to Singapore, Barnett shows how local communities and entire nations have come together in a shared ethic to dramatically reduce consumption and live within their water means.

The first book to call for a national water ethic, Blue Revolution is also a powerful meditation on water and community in America.

I like the part about calling for a national water ethic. I am anxious to read it. Both my wife Mary Frances and I reviewed several chapters.

So let me give another plug for Albuquerque in November – come hear Cynthia speak, meet your old friends and make new ones, and recall that the falls are especially beautiful in New Mexico.

Korea Water Resources Association
Past President Ari Michelsen and I visited South Korea in May to attend the KWRA’s Annual Conference in Daegu (aka Taegu), a city with a metropolitan area of abut 2.5M. We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with KWRA, which Ari and Ken Reid executed at last year’s conference.

Ari’s trip was sponsored by the Korea Water Forum and mine by the KWRA. We both gave presentations and I also gave a brief description of the spring 2011 Mississippi River flood and some of the lessons that we might learn. My formal presentation was the keynote address, which they have at the end of the meeting. I spoke on water and energy in the South Caucasus, which was about as close to South Korea as I could get.

Ari and I discussed some joint ventures, and what may come out of the KWRA conference is a featured collection of papers in JAWRA and/or IMPACT. And perhaps we will see some of their officers in Albuquerque this fall.

We both had a great time; the South Koreans were extremely hospitable. As I am an airport junkie, I was anxious to see Incheon International Airport, reputed to be the world’s best. It’s got my vote. What someone told me was true: you can eat off the floor. It was spotless and efficient. When I got to immigration, there were only two lines for foreigners. Just as I was envisioning a long wait, six young immigration inspectors raced out to occupy more booths. As one inspector ran past me she turned and said, “I’m sorry.” Such was my introduction to South Korea, an impression that will remain with me forever. More international airports and customs/immigration officials should realize that for almost all foreigners, the airport is their first impression of a new country. I don’t expect every airport to look like Incheon, but visitors can be treated courteously and efficiently.

The South Koreans are actively seeking to host the 7th World Water Forum in 2015, and they were anxious to show off the new convention center in Daegu, which is about two hours south of Seoul via bullet train. It will be interesting to see if they are successful.

Unprofessional Conference Conduct
Some recent behavior at the 2011 Spring Specialty Conference has prompted me to pen this section, which has been incubating for quite some time. This may appear to be somewhat of a rant. Let me run down my pet peeves regarding unprofessional conference conduct:

1)    registering for one day and then trying to attend for more than one day;

2)    not registering at all but freeloading;

3)    demanding that someone be admitted to the conference gratis because they are ‘an important person’;

4)    being a no-show for your session/presentation (yes, I realize that emergencies arise, but an explanation after the fact would be a nice gesture);

5)    calling up right before the conference to say that you won’t be attending to present your paper/poster or attend your panel session because you don’t want to pay the registration fee; and

6)    dashing in right before your presentation, loading your Power Point, then scurrying off for several minutes expecting the moderator and everyone else to wait for you and then acting indignant when the moderator doesn’t give you extra time.

There are probably some more but I can’t think of them right now. If you can, please add a comment.

Another one comes close to being classified as ‘unprofessional conduct’ but can just be classified under the ‘annoying conduct’ category: excessive complaining about the cost of the conference registration.

Many attendees don’t realize how much it costs to put on a conference. Most hotels and convention centers charge a king’s ransom for just about everything and usually won’t let you bring your own stuff. Coffee at the break? Try around $84 per gallon. Figure out the cost per cup; it’ll make Starbucks seem cheap. The power strip that the nice young man rushed in to provide you? Maybe $15 for a rental. Another wireless microphone? Don’t ask. And so on.

Our AWRA conference registrations are quite reasonable compared to other professional meetings. And this observation comes from someone who pays his own way. My devilish wish is that those who complain excessively have a chance to chair or plan a conference of their very own some day.

State Section Stuff
My plans to attend the Indiana Section’s meeting last week were sidetracked by a Bay-Delta committee meeting in Sacramento. I do plan to attend the Florida Section’s meeting in Key West at the end of August.

Here in Oregon we had our first section conference, held in conjunction with the Oregon Section of the American Institute of Hydrology (AIH). The Oregon Water Conference 2011 attracted about 210 registrants and featured two full days of three concurrent sessions. I doubt we will do this each year; every two years is more likely. View the abstracts and program .

On the Horizon
The Summer Specialty Conference is just about here. Still time to register and catch the Emperor of IWRM in Snowbird, UT. If you are a skier you should check with the resort because they might remain open through July 4th.

We are working on our first Webinar and  are discussing a Fifth Water Policy (or Vision) Dialogue.

On 7 June you might catch the Future of Water virtual conference (11 AM EDT). 60 speakers in 60 minutes?

Till next month, remember that:

“The road to help is paved with good intentions.” – Tracy Baker

One thought on “June 2011 President’s Message

  1. Jerrod Eurbin

    Sorry my english not good, but I can say your article make a whole lot of sense, and I find it very informational too. Hope you may write extra of those articles in the future.

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