December 16, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Last month I posted about a recent effort by John Lavey of the Sonoran Institute to rearrange current state boundaries based upon watershed boundaries, something John Wesley Powell urged be done for the Western states. Below is the map Lavey produced; you can view details at the Mountain West News site.
Within a few days, alert reader and AWRA member Gerald J. ‘Jerry’ Kauffman (Director of the Water Resources Agency at the University of Delaware) sent me a paper he had written way back in 2002: ‘What if… the United States of America were Based on Watersheds?‘ Water Policy 4:57-68 (2002)
Watersheds know no political boundaries. Except for the borders of a few countries and a few of the United States, this adage is true. Most watersheds include many state, provincial, and local governments and this “balkanization” is what makes the policy of watershed management so complex. Employing an historical exercise in counterfactualism, “what if” the United States were originally delineated on a watershed basis? “What if” each state was originally delineated by watershed, basin, or hydrologic planning unit? What would we learn as watershed managers from this exercise? This article reviews a selected history of watershed management in the USA as it relates to the many laws, regulations, and river basin commissions that were created to manage water resources that cross political boundaries. There are several lessons that watershed managers can learn from this exercise in counterfactualism. Watersheds form the best hydrological planning units for land, water, and ecosystem management. The concept of the river basin commission is a particularly effective way to manage water resources. Opportunities should be sought in the USA and overseas to create and recreate governments based on watersheds. Prospects should be explored to delineate the boundaries of sub-government jurisdictions such as water, sewer, stormwater, or planning districts based on watersheds.
Here is Kauffman’s map (click to enlarge; a better copy is in the paper):
Read the entire article; Kauffman provides some interesting insights.
I think I see some theses here. Wonder what an aquifer-based map would look like?
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain (thanks to Stan Patyrak)
December 13, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Nice picture of snow on the central Oregon coast taken a week ago by my student Dale Nash. No big deal for many areas, but for us in western Oregon, the snow and resulting icy roads caused great problems for us that linger till today.
Hope there are not too many paraskevidekatriaphobes out there – people who fear Friday the 13th. We had three in 2012 and two in 2013. September 2013 was the first.
Here is the link to the weekly water news summary.
“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” - Susan Ertz
December 11, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I know – the blog title is disingenuous because many (?) of you are viewing this page thinking that I am reviewing some book about USA water resources. That assumption would be incorrect on two counts: 1) it’s a book about Canadian water resources; and 2) my post is more a report than a review.
At this point let me say that I haven’t ripped off the publishers; I bought the book.
When I started reading the book I fully intended to review it but quickly realized that my knowledge of Canadian water resources policy, management, etc., bordered on the pathetic and that a review was a foolish idea. An even more grandiose idea I had was to compare Canadian water policy to USA water policy till I realized that neither country had one. Voila (that’s French) – my comparison was finished!
But I kept reading and am glad that I did. So you’ll get my impressions of the opus, which I consider a very worthwhile endeavor regardless of where you call home. Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood hang it all out on the table, lay out all of Canada’s dirty laundry, and mix metaphors with the best of them (that last one is a joke).
I know neither Pentland nor Wood, but I have heard of Ralph Pentland and read some of his material. I first encountered his work through friend and colleague Gerry Galloway, whom I had asked to write a paper (for a special issue of Groundwater on transboundary groundwater) on the role of groundwater in the Great Lakes basin. At the time Gerry was on the International Joint Commission (IJC) and he involved Pentland in the project. After that I realized that Pentland is to Canada as Galloway is to the USA: a ‘grand old man of water’, a national water treasure.
Suffice it to say that the book’s message disappointed me because it exposed Canada as not being as advanced with respect to water policy as I had imagined. But at least Canada had one on the table of the environment minister in 1987, primarily authored by Pentland. That is a lot more than the USA has accomplished.
Down the Drain: How We Are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources comes down particularly hard on the Canadian federal government for abdicating its reponsibilities (especially as compared to the EU and the USA) when it comes to: drinking water protection (especially, but not exclusively, for the First Nations): environmental protection (especially when it comes to energy and mining companies); fisheries; and allowing Canadian scientists to present information that might run counter to official government positions. Bottom line: the authors accuse the government of failing to protect its citizens and allowing the despoiling of Canada’s water, especially drinking water.
There is an interesting section about the ‘shortage’ of Canadian boys resulting from pharmaceuticals (endocrine disrupting chemicals) in drinking water. ‘Interesting’ is a euphemism; ‘scary’ is more apt.
Pentland and Wood also lucidly explain the concept of the ‘Crown’ (Canada) and ‘the people’ (USA). Fascinating – it is a fundamental difference between two great democracies. The clearest example I can think of is in the legal arena. In Canada, when you commit a crime, the Crown prosecutes you; in the USA, the people prosecute you. Power springs from the people, not the Crown. There is also an excellent discussion of the public trust doctrine which comes into play towards the end of the book.
Interesting disagreement: Pentland supports the human right to water, whereas Wood doesn’t think that doing so will accomplish much. Interesting agreement: neither one gets worked up over Canadian exports of water to the USA. They just don’t think it will happen (too expensive, etc.). In fact they view the export of water and the human-right issues as red herrings that are
…peripheral to the failures of fragmented, misaligned governance, patchwork standards, weak enforcement, and willful ignorance that constitute the real gaps in our natural defence. (page 198)
The book is not all about criticism. In the last few chapters, the authors, invoking the public trust doctrineand the Magna Carta, propose a new Great Charter, a magna carta natura, one that would provide for Canada’s natural security and require the Crown to protect it. Fascinating idea.
The book is well-documented and well-written. Wood is an award-winning writer who’s tackled water before (Dry Spring: The Coming Water Crisis of North America) and Pentland is a true WaterWonk.
This book has done two things for me: 1) produced a greater appreciation of the USA when it comes to environmental protection and stewardship, our legal and political frameworks, etc.; 2) inspired me to use parts of it in my two water resources management courses – both USA and international.
Upshot: read this book. Especially if you’re Canadian.
Do I still admire Canada and its people? Better believe it, eh!
By the way, read Sarah Boon’s blog post, “Canada and Water: Destroying our Cultural Foundations”.
Note (at the risk of nitpicking accusations): I would lose my license as a CGC – Certified Groundwater Curmudgeon – if I failed to point out this misstatement on page 6 of Pentland and Wood’s book:
We cite with pride our possession of a fifth of the world’s liquid fresh water, though only a third of that is renewed by rain and snowfall.
For that statement to be true, ‘fresh water’ needs to be modified by ‘surface’.
Don’t let that deter you from reading this excellent book.
December 6, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I woke up this morning to the ‘white stuff’ – unusual for Corvallis. Looks like maybe 4-6 inches. And it’s pretty light – not the typical ‘Cascades Cement’. Oregon State University decided to close at noon, after it stopped snowing.
That’s Mary Frances preparing to do battle with the elements in Demasiado II.
At least I got to wear my Sorels.
Rest in peace, President Mandela! You will be missed, but celebrated, too.
Click here for the summary.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” ? Nelson Mandela
New Database on International River Basin Organizations Now on OSU’s Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database
December 5, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I just received a request from Jennifer Veilleux, soon-to-be PhD, blogger and database manager extraordinaire, to post this official announcement:
As the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation is wrapping up, theTransboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD) team at Oregon State University is pleased to announce the launch of the International River Basins Organization Database. This large source of information on river basin organizations (RBOs) was collected and organized by Dr. Susanne Schmeier, and will be included alongside our existing datasets on international river basins, international freshwater agreements and treaties, and international water events.
Many innovative approaches developed during the 2013 Year of Water Cooperation are designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of water resources development. RBOs have been assigned crucial roles in this development. RBOs are asked to provide forums for addressing disagreements over shared waters as well as platforms for joint decision-making and to acquire, analyze, and share data among riparian states, as well as other stakeholders. This gives the basis for successful water resources management to develop river basin management plans and implement related programs or projects. Through this, RBOs also provide an interface for scientists to interact with policy makers in developing the best solutions to water-related challenges, especially in times of global change.
Within this searchable RBO database, detailed information is provided for over 120 international RBOs around the world, including information on each functional scope, decision making and information sharing mechanisms, dispute resolution mechanisms, funding and cost sharing mechanisms, as well as public participation mechanisms and many other parameters. The dataset is complemented by a paper summarizing key findings across all of the world’s RBOs as well as a comprehensive reference list on primary RBO documents describing each RBO’s organizational set-up.
You can access the database here
A more detailed analysis of RBOs and their institutional design as well as their contributions to effective river basin governance can be found in a related publication: Schmeier, Susanne (2013): Governing International Watercourses. River Basin Organizations and the Sustainable Governance of Internationally Shared Rivers and Lakes,London: Routledge
The TFDD Team
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela, 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013
JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – DECEMBER 2013
Pandey and Soupir demonstrate the impacts of streambed sediment on coliform loads.
Ramsey et al. evaluate satellites for coastal flood inundation mapping.
Seo et al. evaluate National Weather Service flash flood guidance.
Dosskey et al. use DEM-based indices to address the placement of agricultural buffers.
Pradhanang et al. examine the effects of climate change on the New York City watershed.
Hoekema and Sridhar use a system dynamics model to explore a conflict between groundwater users and surface water users.
Carrier et al. extend streamflow records based on tree ring reconstructions.
Nichols and Ketcheson explore log jam design for stream restoration.
Patterson et al. look at hydrologic droughts in the South Atlantic, US.
Doubleday et al. use a distributed hydrologic model to examine low impact development.
DeBusk et al. look at rainwater harvesting in humid regions.
Greene et al., in a decade-long study, examine what happens after a dam is removed.
November 29, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The graphic? Some thoughts of one of my students – thinking about village-scale water and sanitation projects in Honduras.
Here is the link to this week’s summary.
“Why do countries not care enough to provide their citizens with safe water and sanitation?” – Question from one of my undergraduate students
November 26, 2013 | Posted by LHooper
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A Western City Collaborates for Meaningful Water Education, Part 5
by Lydia Hooper
For the past several years, Denver Public Works has been building partnerships with Denver Public Schools to improve both water quality and science education in the city.
Last year, they began partnering with Denver Parks and Recreation as well, expanding their core goals to also include improvement of park stewardship. Denver is able to more effectively promote sustainable behaviors through a pioneering educational program known as “Keep It Clean Neighborhood Environmental Trios”, or KIC-NET, which incorporates all of these outcomes.
KIC-NET’s hyperlocal outdoor education model connects a school to its neighboring waterway and park. The two-year pilot is reaching 750 youth at ten of these sites. By connecting students to waterways in their own neighborhood, KIC-NET inspires youth to take ownership of their immediate environment and its natural values.
For individuals to become stewards of community assets like parks, they first must be supported in changing their perceptions, values, and competencies. Therefore, KIC-NET educators are trained in the Earth Force Process, which integrates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles and service learning.
As part of this process, youth take action to improve their local park and waterway, and thus begin to see that their actions matter. Evaluation results show that over 80% of students in Keep It Clean Denver programs last year thought that their civic action project had made a difference. This self-confidence will keep these students acting as stewards of their parks and waterways, not just now but into the future.
The KIC-NET partnership model creates sustainable relationships between water quality, community assets and public education. The transferrable KIC-NET program has been partially funded by the EPA’s Urban Waters grant, so last week Earth Force presented a webinar to potential future grantees about how this model can be utilized in other watersheds across the nation. They are already beginning discussions with MS4 stakeholders in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Wilmington, Delaware to better understand how this model can be successfully replicated.
This blog is the fifth in a monthly series offering ideas on how cities can address water issues through collaboration and creation of exciting educational opportunities. Read my final post next month to hear about some of the inspiring actions that students have taken to keep their waterways clean!
Lydia Hooper is the “Keep It Clean” Communications Liaison for Denver Public Works’ Wastewater Management-Water Quality Division and Earth Force, a non-profit that fosters community partnerships to support youth engagement in environmental civic action projects nationwide.
November 22, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Fifty years ago today I was barely two months into my sophomore year at Chaminade High School in Mineola, NY. I was sitting in Mr. Brady’s American history class when the PA system awoke from its slumber: ‘President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas.’
Clear as a bell in my memory.
Enjoy this week’s summary - click here.
“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” – John F. Kennedy
November 15, 2013 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Below is a comparison of Haiyan and Katrina, superimposed on the same map and at the same scale. Read the story behind the comparison.
Here is the link to the weekly water news.
“I am a very environmentally conscious person—I drive a hybrid car, and think constantly about the careful use of water.” – Betsy Cramer, whose Portland home used 770,000 gallons last year, the sixth biggest Hydro-Hog