A KEY FEATURE that has always attracted me to AWRA is its multidisciplinary nature. This dimension of the organization is recognized by our Vision, which describes what we want to accomplish: “to be recognized as the pre-eminent multidisciplinary association for information exchange, professional development and education about water resources and related issues;” and our Mission, which describes why we do what we do: “to advance multidisciplinary water resources education, management and research.” AWRA excels in this multidisciplinary approach to water resources management by providing the water resources community with opportunities to “connect the dots” on pressing water-related matters.
AWRA evolved from a hydrology-focused organization in the early 1960s into a large multidisciplinary group of professionals, in part, to address the fact that water resources management is no longer about simply understanding the science of hydrology and hydraulics. Instead, it’s evolved to a comprehensive perspective of the complete hydrologic cycle, and how society and the environment interact with this cycle. AWRA is now comprised of engineers, scientists, researchers, policy makers, lawyers, technologists and academia among others. Collectively, our members share the expertise required for holistic water resources management and achieve sustainable benefits for society and the environment.
In support of our multidisciplinary approach, AWRA has developed Policy Statements that describe the utopia of comprehensive water resources management. The Policy Statements are:
- Leveraging Integrated Water Resources Management Lessons and Fostering a National Water Resources Strategy – focuses on improving the integrated management of resources by providing a national perspective.
- Integrated Water Resources Management in the United States –calls on multiple disciplines to collaborate on integrated water resources management, considering water, the environment and society to realize sustainable ecosystems.
- Organizing and Managing Water Resources in a Hydrologic Context – establishes comprehensive water resources management, beyond political boundaries and within a watershed context.
- Ensuring Sustainable Funding for Water-Resource Infrastructure – recommends the establishment of sustainable investment strategies for the construction and maintenance of water resources infrastructure to protect the public and the environment.
In addition to our Policy Statements, AWRA has established technical committees that serve as the organization’s technical and multidisciplinary voice. We welcome you to join the technical committee or committees of your preference so you can engage in Community, Conversation and Connections. The Technical Committees include:
- Flowing Waters Committee – focus areas include ecology, wetlands, hydrology, hydraulics and water supply.
- Future Risk Committee – focus areas include climate change, water/energy nexus and extreme events.
- Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Committee focus areas include supporting IWRM and watershed-based water management at a national scale.
- International Affairs Committee – focus areas include working with and supporting global water organizations on topics related to water resources management.
- Policy Committee – focus areas include the development of future Policy Statements for AWRA in collaboration with the work of all technical committees.
- Technology Committee – focus areas include geographic information systems, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, data management and the Open Water Data Initiative.
As an example of the multidisciplinary nature of AWRA, this issue of IMPACT centers on the main topic of our upcoming Spring AWRA Conference, “Connecting the Dots: The Emerging Science of Aquatic System Connectivity.” This is a science that involves a myriad of disciplines within the water resources community – and how “connecting the dots” within these disciplines is paramount to understanding the degree of connectivity that may exist within ecosystems. Although the degree of connection between upstream and downstream water bodies has been a topic of debate for many years, it is reasonably important to understand how this connection may influence aquatic systems. The science of aquatic system connectivity allows us to understand the interrelationships that may be exhibited by these connected systems.
Over the years, the water resources community has worked diligently to protect our waters by ensuring that we maintain their chemical, physical and biological integrity. We hope that during this upcoming Spring AWRA Conference you have the opportunity to collaborate, network and engage in dialogue on how to “connect the dots.” That is, to protect the vitality of the aquatic systems and promote water quality that will result in healthy ecosystems. For more information on the conference, visit www.awra.org.
Working together, we will deliver on our Brand Promise: “to provide a balanced, professional approach to solving water resources challenges in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.”
I look forward to seeing you at our Spring AWRA Conference from April 30-May 3, 2017, in scenic Snowbird, Utah. In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter (@AWRAHQ and @RafaFriasIII) to stay abreast of our efforts. See you at the conference!
Rafael E. Frias III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org