AWRA Water Blog

October 2011 President’s Message

Last Call. Anyone?
Not quite yet, but there are not too many of these messages are left for me. I’ll do two more and then that’ll be it for me.

Brazilian Bonanza
I spent a week in Brazil at the end of the September at the XIVth World Water Congress of our sister organization, the International Water Resources Association (IWRA). It was held in Porto de Galinhas (‘port of chickens’ in Portuguese), a beach resort outside of Recife. I was the guest of the local organizing committee and served on a panel dealing with water governance.

The conference was well-attended; about 1,000 people were present. On my WaterWired blog I summarize my impressions of the meeting (see posts dated 25 and 27- 29 September; 4 October). The IWRA does these World Water Congresses every three years; the next one will be in Granada, Spain, in 2014.

Dr. Peter H. Gleick of the Pacific Institute won the IWRA;’s Ven Te Chow Memorial Award and presented a lecture. Read more (including his lecture).

I spoke with IWRA officers about more collaboration between our two organizations. A joint conference might be in the offing, but no formal proposal has been made.

Shortly after posting last month’s message, I learned of the death of yet another well-known water professional: Bill Fetter.

Dr. C.W. ‘Bill’ Fetter, Jr., long-time professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, died in mid-September after a brief illness. He performed significant work in the realm of groundwater monitoring and remediation and became well-known. But what most of us in groundwater remember him for is his introductory hydrogeology textbook, Applied Hydrogeology, which first appeared in 1980 and went through four editions, the last one appearing in 2000. It sold the astounding number of 100,000 copies worldwide. That number is unheard of except for perhaps freshman-level textbooks. He also penned two editions of Contaminant Hydrogeology. I used both textbooks for many years. Many of us owe Bill a great debt for helping us educate a generation of groundwater professionals. I paid tribute to him on the AWRA blog (25 September post).

2011 Annual Conference…and Beyond!
This is finally upon us. Stephanie Moore and her team have pulled together quite an event. Early-bird registration still has a few days to run (17 October). And, as if planning a conference and her day job were not enough, she became a mommy in September: she and Aaron now have a daughter, Maria Constance Moore, who will go by Mia.

We’ll be in Jacksonville next year. Steve Nix and his team are already hard at work ensuring a superior offering. The 2013 Annual Conference will be in Portland, OR, currently one of the ‘hottest’ cities in the nation and legendary for its ‘green’  lifestyle and huge number of microbreweries, supposedly more per capita than any city in the USA. Yours truly will serve as chair.

Webinar: Hydraulic Fracturing: Fresh Facts and Critical Choices
Dick Engberg and Lorraine Loken of the Clean Water America Alliance have worked hard on this and have assembled an all-star lineup. More information and registration can be found here.

UN International Water Forum
On 16 September I attended and addressed a meeting held at the UN headquarters in New York City. I served on a panel that focused on US water issues, and I spoke for about ten minutes on groundwater. If you read my September column, you’ll know what I said: groundwater, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect. The talk went over well and a number of people thanked me for it.

I also stated that I believe that the US should support human rights to water and sanitation. Will this change the landscape overnight? Of course not. But it will send an important message. I also mentioned that I would like to see ‘gamers’ develop video games to educate people about water. I would like to see a game using a Second Life-type platform. Over a year ago I spoke with an Intel person who described just a game. I have not heard anything since.

Charles Fishman, author of  The Big Thirst, spoke at the luncheon. He covered some items from his book, but he also discussed some new topics. He did that because he referred to a blogger who had disparaged the UN meeting, essentially saying that it would be the SOS – Same Old Stuff (or S**t) – with the same players offering little new. So was there anything new? Read about his ‘Six Wild Water Ideas’. Remember – Fishman will be speaking at our Wednesday luncheon at the Albuquerque meeting.

Back to the meeting, whose purpose was described on its WWW site:

On September 16, 2011, the International Water Forum at the United Nations will convene world leaders, academics, non-governmental organizations, and private sector representatives to take the first step toward organizing a worldwide education and awareness campaign on the global water crisis.

The meeting was a first step, for sure. No path forward was presented, although the organizers have promised to convene after the event to develop a strategy. A daunting task to be sure. But it will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Till next month.

“In nature, there are no prizes or punishment – just consequences.” – Robert S. Ingersoll

One thought on “October 2011 President’s Message

  1. Elaine Brouillard

    Recife! I spent a month there while an undergraduate. First memory, getting out of the airport, all open, being driven to a coconut hut where an eight year old boy with a machete as big as he was, shaped a green coconut and put red platic straws in it for me to drink. It was awful!

    Welcome back and I envey you being in Albuquerque! I finally did a talk at the local WA chapter annual meeting. Fun folks!

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