TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 August – 2 September 2016

September 2, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I never thought I would be able to post this summary on time (more or less) or at all. I returned to San Pedro Sula from the field earlier than expected so I have managed to produce an abbreviated version.

Today Honduras is en fuego like few other times. At 3 PM local time the national team plays here v. Canada. To remain alive in the 2018 World Cup qualifying round, the Catrachos need a win or draw against the Frostbacks, who will face the midday heat (c. Woman93F/34C) and humidity (75%). The heat index is about 113F/45C). Oh, Canada!Note: Honduras won, 2-1.

The picture is of a young Honduran mother standing in front of her open-topped, hand-dug well ‘cased’ with used auto tires. She knows the water is bad for her and her children, but she cannot get anyone’s attention to help her. We are going to rattle some cages for her. This ain’t rocket science folks, this is lack of political will.

She also happens to live among the levees in San Pedro Sula, arguably the most dangerous region in the world’s most dangerous city. But she is also growing crops, having been taught to do so by my friend Rolando López.

There is hope.

I return home late tomorrow night.

To my USA friends – have a safe Labor Day weekend!

Click here to access the weekly water news and jobs.

“There are no such things as applied sciences, only applications of science.” – Louis Pasteur

AWRA Awards Six Scholarships Totaling $7000

August 29, 2016 | Posted by cmccrehin
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2016-17 AWRA Richard A. Herbert Memorial Scholarship winners (l to r) Molly Tedesche, Elizabeth Jachens and Morgan DiCarlo.

2016-17 AWRA Richard A. Herbert Memorial Scholarship winners (l to r) Molly Tedesche, Elizabeth Jachens and Morgan DiCarlo.

AWRA is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2016-17 Richard A. Herbert Memorial Scholarship Fund awards. Considered by AWRA and our members to be one of the organization’s greatest accomplishments, the scholarship fund, established in 1980, has helped more than 50 students continue with their studies in water resources management.

Application packets for 2017-2018 may be submitted starting in January 2016. For more information on our scholarship program email

The 2016-17 AWRA Richard A. Herbert Memorial Scholarship Fund winners are:

Molly Tedesche, 2016-2017 recipient of the Graduate (Ph.D.) Student Award ($2,000)
Molly is an engineering PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) studying Snow Hydrology and Hydro-Climatology. She is also completing a Graduate Certificate in Science Teaching and Outreach at UAF, and is affiliated with UAF’s International Arctic Research Center and Water and Environmental Research Center. She is an active student member of the Alaska State Section of AWRA, and President of the Northern Alaska Regional Chapter of the state section.

In her own words, “The reason that I became a hydrologist, and that I wish to pursue a career in hydrology, engineering, and snow hydrology, is that ultimately, I believe the study of water can help us find answers to important questions that will help people.”

Elizabeth Jachens, 2016-2017 recipient of the Graduate (M.S.) Student Award ($2,000)
Elizabeth is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Water Resources Engineering as a master’s candidate at Oregon State University.   Her thesis subject is hydrologic responses to changes in precipitation in the Oregon Cascades, with a focus on whether younger volcanic systems are more resilient to changing precipitation caused by climate change.  She is also participating in the Trans African Hydro Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) project–a foundation focusing on climate research, hydro-meteorological sensor design, and providing science education to students by creating a network of weather stations across the African continent.

In her own words, “These experiences have given me personal growth by improving my communication skills, increased my networking skills and given me the opportunity to meet so many fascinating people, be part of a team, be a role model, learn new skills, fuel my curiosity, and value the world and people around me. I hope to continue this during my Master’s thesis and into my career.”

Morgan Dicarlo, 2016-2017 recipient of the Undergraduate Student Award ($2,000)
Morgan is a Civil Engineering student in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program at Stony Brook University.  She chose this program because of the opportunity to be a member of the inaugural class, and to play a role in building the program.  During her first year, she founded the Stony Brook Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and was recognized with the 2016 National ASCE Student Leader of the Year award. She was also recognized by ASCE as one of their 2015 New Faces of Civil Engineering, Collegiate Edition.  Her senior thesis is focused on the development of on-site wastewater treatment technology for nitrogen removal. The technologies proposed through this project will be piloted at the Long Island Nature Conservancy as a public educational tool to exemplify better wastewater practices.  Her independent research proposal titled Capitalizing on the Internet of Things to Promote Water Conservation won the Best Student submission to the 2016 ASCE Innovation Contest.

In her own words, “I am acting on my potential as a researcher by pursuing an advanced degree in water resources.  This scholarship will support my graduate study in Water Resources Engineering at Virginia Tech, starting Fall 2016.”

Due to the overwhelming generosity of AWRA members, the Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee are pleased to announce three ancillary scholarships. Recipients are:

  • Dorothea Lundberg, University of Maryland, College Park – Ph.D. Student
  • Lindsey Marie Aldaco-Manner, Texas A&M University – M.S. Student
  • Ariel Blanton, Clayton State University – Undergraduate Student

If you would like to show your support for our next generation of water resources managers, please consider making a donation to our scholarship program. You do not need to be a member of AWRA to donate.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 20 – 26 August 2016

August 26, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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There will be fewer blog posts and Tweets for next week. I leave for Honduras later today and will return late on 3 September. I will be finishing one village water project funded by the ACJ Foundation and checking out some other potential projects. I will also give a presentation on climate change and water resources in Honduras to some officials (see both of today’s quotes below).

I may not post another TGIF until two weeks from today. On my WaterWired blog I plan to post Elaine Hanford’s Bulletin Boards on  29 August and Josh Newton’s Water Jobs on 30 August, but they will no doubt be a little late.


Click here to access the weekly water news summary and jobs, too.


“Definition of an expert: someone who comes more than 1,000 miles and has colored transparencies.” – circa late 1970s – early 1980s (when colored transparencies were a BFD).  

“When the blind leads the way, woe to those who follow.” – Honduran proverb


This interview is the third of a six part series, written/conducted by AWRA President Martha Narvaez, celebrating the role of AWRA Women in Water Resources.

Length of Time in the Water Resources Field
Since 1982, 34 years (wow, this ages me)

Current Position
Senior Principal Scientist with Normandeau Associates, Inc.

Positions Held

  • Director of Ecological Solutions at The Bioengineering Group
  • Senior Associate Scientist at Schnabel Engineering Associates, Inc.
  • Wetland Ecologist and NEPA Specialist at US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3
  • Consultant to the Wareham, Massachusetts Conservation Commission
  • Research Assistant at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Laboratory Technician, Ocean Spray Cranberries Research and Development Lab


  • Master of Science in Environmental Science from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology from University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Honors and Appointments

  • Robinhood Oak Award, Student Leadership at SUNY-ESF
  • Fellow Member of the American Water Resources Association



How did you get involved in the water resources field? I began with a Biology degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMASS Dartmouth) and realized the need to obtain a post graduate degree since classic biology/physiology and chemistry coursework qualified me as a laboratory technician, which was not my interest. I applied to a new program at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University. At this time the wetlands field had just started to open up with the early application of the Clean Water Act. I knew I wanted to work in wetlands and ecology and was invited to interview by Dr. Maurice Alexander, the Head of the Department of Forest Zoology, mostly due to the interest the Fisheries Department professors had in my marine organism physiology background. I was not immediately comfortable with a fisheries focus. The Department Head (Dr. Alexander) who I later realized was a pioneer in the wetlands field in the State of NY, described some of his research and his position on a state board that was developing the State of New York’s wetland regulatory program. I then began a work study project with Dr. Alexander characterizing wetlands in Onondaga, NY and selected a multidisciplinary course of study. I was evaluating wetlands using remote sensing techniques and conducted many aspects of wetlands research associated with hydrology, soils and plant community. I spent my research assistantship graduate work characterizing the unique ecological, chemical and physical aspects of the State’s first Unique Area, the Labrador Hollow Unique Area in Onondaga and Cortland County’s, NY. I studied water chemistry and the ecology of ponds, wetlands and streams. Terrestrial plants and animals too. I was able to get a broad view of ecosystems and how the physical and chemical environment influenced the numbers and distribution of organisms. I was more attracted to aquatic ecosystems as I saw the importance of them and relatively poor understanding of them at that time.

After graduating I returned home to the Southeastern Coast of Massachusetts. I worked for a local township that was just developing their wetland ordinances. I helped to apply them to the township’s significant coastal resources, with over 50 miles of shoreline.

After a few years, I received a phone call from Dr. Alexander (who became my major professor), who told me there was a wetland scientist position open with Region 3 of the USEPA. I applied and got the job. I went to Philadelphia for the job and only planned to stay one year. I ultimately wanted to go back to Massachusetts. (Jane has been living in the Philadelphia area for 32 years). I worked for the Section 404 wetlands group half of the time and the other half of my time was spent working with the NEPA group. I was reviewing Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 9/10 Rivers and Harbors Act permit applications and provided formal USEPA comments to the US Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia, Norfolk, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Baltimore Districts. At that point, I was immersed into water resources science, and regulatory and NEPA compliance policy. I worked on a lot of river dredging projects and initiated the first use of “Advanced Identification of Disposal Sites” for limiting impacts in Northeast PA due to peat mining. I reviewed many dam projects and tried to kill a lot of them through the Section 404(q) and 404(c) process. I actually became known for this and irritated many! I worked to demonstrate the negative and extreme impacts to high quality wetlands and subsequent impact to water resources caused by projects, contrary to the vision of the Clean Water Act.  Although we elevated many of these projects, we were not successful in getting them formally denied.  At USEPA I was first initiated into the wetland mitigation process and was asked by USACE to provide mitigation conceptual designs for impacts caused by several of the projects they permitted.

I then started having kids. I left USEPA one week before my first child was born. After having children I worked on delineation projects on the side. I had contacts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and worked with them on permits and mitigation projects. I worked on some of the first restoration projects at USEPA (at this time very few people had tried restoration or creation of wetlands). This work was ground-breaking. I also worked on lake shoreline restoration while I was self-employed.

Following my self-employment I went to work with Schnabel Engineering Associates, Inc. a geotechnical and dam engineering design consultant. I worked on a lot of restoration projects with a lot of smart engineers, and gained a keen understanding of what it takes to design, “spec” and construct a restoration project that will be successful.

And with AWRA? From my graduate school days, my Wildland Hydrology professor and graduate committee member, Dr. Peter Black, introduced me to the American Water Resources Association. Although I knew of the organization, I did not become a member until the early 1990’s and attended some AWRA conferences. In the early 2000’s Jan Bowers, with the Chester County Water Resources Authority, convinced me to help with the 2001 annual conference held in Philadelphia and then later run for the Board of Directors. I was elected to the Board in 2003, and later became President Elect in 2007.

How has the water resources field changed since you started your career? There are a lot more wetland scientists now than there were. There are also a lot of folks who call themselves wetland scientists and are performing wetland scientist functions, who do not have the educational and technical background that is essential for understanding and adequately achieving protection of wetlands. Very few people in the wetland science field can obtain a Professional Wetland Scientist certification from the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program–the measure of a wetland scientist. Though few are qualified to be wetland scientists they are now a dime a dozen. Engineering firms usually did not employ wetland scientists (since they were not really taken seriously) and now most engineering firms have many filled wetland scientist positions. The increased number of wetland scientists does not mean they are good at what they do. A current primary function of a “wetland scientist” is the delineation of jurisdictional boundaries at the wetland, stream or water body edge, which does not require a PE or PWS. I am a PWS (and have been re-certified three times now) because I believe those who perform the work of wetland scientists need to understand the science and function of a wetland or water, not just the delineation process. The water resources field has changed because a lot more people are trying to play in the ecological arena and this is not necessarily for the better. There was a time no one had a “wetland scientist” on staff. Now everyone has one.

How will the water resources field change in the next few years? From the stand point of large natural water bodies. They were in such bad condition in the 70’s and now with the Clean Water Act many are improved and have clearer water and better diversity and I anticipate their uses are going to change. At the same time, you have closed systems like some impoundments or even large rivers with water treatment plants used for drinking water. This is a plan for disaster. Elements like hormones, and other emerging contaminants, etc. end up in these water bodies. Many of these elements we can’t do anything about. How the field has changed depends on where you look. Some cases get more difficult because with increasing quality and value the water systems now support endangered species (for example the Delaware River now supports two endangered species of sturgeon and has recently been proposed as Critical Habitat for the Atlantic Sturgeon). Water quality regulations result in adherence to water quality standards but they don’t necessarily result in improving the aquatic ecosystem. The ecosystem is very fragile. If you consider a water supply reservoir, managers may adhere to water quality standards, or add chemicals to the water before distributing to their customers–but what kind of ecosystem do you have? The entire ecosystem needs to be addressed. Also, I hope coastal zone and wetland managers will require habitat and biological monitoring after implementing restoration or resiliency schemes to see if their work has really provided value to the larger ecosystem.

Biggest career success? Being a manager at Normandeau Associates. I am so very proud and grateful that I can work with a group of highly intelligent, skilled and dedicated scientists and experts involved in managing many types of resources and habitats, from fisheries, to wetlands to endangered bats.

Biggest lesson learned in your career? Sound science is the basis of everything a consultant in the sciences does. We cannot divert from scientific principles and the scientific method. It is essential to follow scientific protocols, base our recommended actions and standards on scientific principles and not just on expediency or cost. For example, if we are conducting a study, we must plan adequately, follow scientific protocols, obtain buy-in from regulators (presumed scientists), and basically just “do it right” eg—take three replicates and a reference sample—not just one grab sample. In the end, if a scientific study is conducted properly you will be able to rely on the data collected with less of a chance of being challenged or wrong!

Biggest regret? Not getting a PhD.

Share a leadership story? When at Schnabel, one of the best most memorable experiences was that I participated in a yearlong leadership training program. The program was hosted by the American Council of Engineering Companies. It was an intense program; I had to travel to Manhattan for a full-day each month with many homework assignments. Through this experience I learned so much about servant leadership. I could go into great detail but I won’t. What I will say is that I learned about the principles of leadership, specifically the John Maxwell philosophy of leadership. I learned the different styles of leadership and that I don’t want to be in the category of four of the five styles! It became clear to me that the way I want to lead is to empower people around me, base my work relationships on honesty and trust, and to lead by example.

Biggest challenge as a woman in the business? There are still men that won’t listen and don’t take women seriously. I think that because women often verbalize their thoughts, think out loud and sometimes talk too much, men aren’t always ready to listen. When I say something that I want them to respond to they don’t because it may be thought of as another stream of consciousness. Women are willing to be more vulnerable. Women are willing to be more transparent. Men don’t necessarily appreciate it. Other women usually do. Balancing family with work is also a very big challenge. I want to emphasize and recognize though that virtually every opportunity I have had for advancement has been provided to me by men.

One piece of advice you wish someone told you early on in your career? I feel like I got lots of advice. From my father…mostly from my father. He made it clear to me that you should never be ashamed of any work you do. All work is honorable, if it is achieved honorably. Doesn’t matter what level you work at you need to work hard and do your best. That’s been motivating. I’ve done things I didn’t like and that helped me focus on achieving at a higher level to enjoy my working life and not just work for a paycheck. I have a very strong belief that God is not an entity out there in the distance and remote. God is involved in the world and in the lives of everyone. My father also believed that. He taught those principles. “Whatever may be your task. Work at it heartily from the soul as something done for the Lord and not for people.”

True inspiration?  My faith, my family and my love for the natural, unblemished ecosystem.

As mentioned, this is a six-part series on AWRA’s Women in Water. Watch for the fourth interview next month with AWRA Past President Carol Collier.

Author Martha Narvaez is AWRA’s President. Email:

AWRA LogoShill alert: I was involved in the GVI workshop from the beginning and am a
co-author of the final report. I am a member of NGWA and AWRA, and Technical Director of AWRA.  I promoted the workshop in an April 2016 blog post. 

Here is what I said in an earlier post:

So what’s the deal with the title, Groundwater Visibility Initiative’?  There are two components to my answer: 1) groundwater is physically invisible to humans – it’s underground and unless you’re in a cave or something, you can’t see it; 2) its lack of physical visibility has contributed greatly to its lack of visibility in manyNGWA logodiscussions of water policy, governance, and management. It’s not fully integrated into integrated water resources management.

The workshop report, agenda, and list of attendees:

Download GVI_Workshop_Report_20August2016

Download GVI_Workshop_Agenda

Download GVI_Attendees

To whet your appetite, here are the first few paragraphs of the report:

For most of the public, groundwater is out of sight and out of mind. Groundwater, and the boundaries that define it as a water management unit, are physically invisible to humans. Our inability to readily see groundwater contributes to groundwater’s lack of visibility in many discussions of water policy, governance, and management.

In many parts of the world, the failure to manage groundwater in an integrated, sustainable way could have severe consequences. Depleted and/or contaminated water reserves contribute to regional conflicts and create public health hazards. Subsidence causes significant damage to critical infrastructure such as roads and levees. Entire economies, based on water dependent agriculture and industry, are at risk.

Groundwater constitutes more than 95% of Earth’s unfrozen freshwater. Given its vast reserves, broad geographical distribution, generally good quality and frequent availability at or near the point-of-use, it has become the foundation of many water management systems for drinking water, irrigation, and municipal and industrial uses. Still, and despite its importance, groundwater is largely undervalued and narrowly perceived. Even while the interrelationship between groundwater and surface water is well established by science, institutions at all levels struggle to effectively incorporate these concepts into laws, regulations, and sustainable management.

List of findings and recommendations (each of these is followed by text in the report):

  1. Governing and managing groundwater requires working with people
  1. Data and information are keys
  1. Some “secrets” remain
  1. We need to take care of what we have
  1. Effective groundwater management is critical to an integrated water management portfolio that is adaptive and resilient to drought and climate change
  1. To be robust, agriculture, energy, environment, land-use planning, and urban development sectors policies must incorporate groundwater considerations

There is also a call to action listing tasks to be accomplished.

Here is a document that grew our of the GVI: a proposed groundwater agenda from NGWA, AWRA and IGRAC for the 8th World Water Forum (more information posted here):

Download Groundwater at 8WWF_Final

Enjoy, and stay tuned!

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. ” – Carl Sagan

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 13 – 19 August 2016

August 19, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Great article about monadnocks (aka ‘inselbergs’) in Quebec by Courtney van Stolk on her excellent Blue Marble Earth blog. I love this photo of one below:


Click here to view the weekly water news summary and jobs.

“Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism. ” – Vice President Joe Biden


Got WaterAbout a month ago I asked you for assistance in helping the US Department of Labor ensure that the occupational term ‘Water Resource Specialist’ was properly defined. You responded and the folks (Tammy Belcher) at RT(Research Triangle Institute), a Department of Labor contractor, were very appreciative.

Tammy (877-233-7348 ext. 119 or is back again this month, but this time it’s for the occupational term ‘Water/Wastewater Engineers’. And you could get $40 cash money!

Water/Wastewater Engineers: Design or oversee projects involving provision of potable water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, or prevention of flood-related damage. Prepare environmental documentation for water resources, regulatory program compliance, data management and analysis, and field work. Perform hydraulic modeling and pipeline design.

For details download her request below (PDF or .docx) or read the material below the line of stars. Please respond to her by 19 September 2016.

PDF:  Download Request_Water_Wastewater_Engineers_2016

Word:  Download Request_Water_Wastewater_Engineers_2016



16 August 2016

Dear Members of the Water/Wastewater Engineering Community:

The O*NET Data Collection Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is seeking the input of expert Water/Wastewater Engineers.

As the nation’s most comprehensive source of occupational data, O*NET is a free resource for millions of job seekers, employers, veterans, educators, and students at

You have the opportunity to participate in this important initiative as it will help ensure that the complexities of your profession are described accurately in the O*NET Database for the American public for career exploration and job analysis.

Water/Wastewater Engineers: Design or oversee projects involving provision of potable water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, or prevention of flood-related damage. Prepare environmental documentation for water resources, regulatory program compliance, data management and analysis, and field work. Perform hydraulic modeling and pipeline design.

You are considered an Occupation Expert if you meet the following criteria:

  • At least 5 years of experience with the occupation. Includes those who are now supervising, teaching, or training IF you have at least one year of practice during your career.
  • Currently active in the occupation (practicing, supervising, teaching and/or training) and based in the U.S.

If you meet these criteria and are interested in participating as an occupation expert, please email or call Tammy Belcher at the O*NET Operations Center at RTI International (the O*NET data collection contractor) 877-233-7348 ext. 119 or and provide the following by 19 September 2016:

  • Name/ # years of experience
  • Address with city and state
  • Daytime phone number
  • Email address
  • Do you have at least one year of practice in the occupation and are you still active?

Process and Participation Incentive:
A random sample of experts responding to this request will be invited to complete a set of questionnaires (paper or online versions available). $40.00 in cash and a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Department of Labor will be included with the questionnaires.

We encourage you to consider helping to keep information about your profession accurate and current for the benefit of our colleagues and the nation. Thank you very much for your support of DOL’s O*NET program.


“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” – The Eagles Hotel California (written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 6 – 12 August 2016

August 12, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Great 12-minute video from Eleanor Allen, CEO of Water For People:

Water Is a Women’s Issue: Here’s Why


Click here for the weekly water news summary.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. – Soren Kierkegaard


siegelDisclosure Notice
I met author Seth M. Siegel at a meeting in Washington, DC, on 21 March 2016. There, he spoke about his book and the Israeli water miracle. The Singer Foundation and Start-Up Nation Central provided free copies for all present, including yours truly. The latter is an organization that promotes Israel, its people, technology, businesses, etc.

Siegel and I had a brief chat, and he autographed my copy, “I love the idea of a water czar. But maybe it should be you.” I had asked him if he thought the USA needed a water czar, and, if so, would he agree to assume the role.

Here goes…

My first experience with the ‘Israeli water miracle’ came in graduate school at the University of Arizona in the early 1970s. There, in the Sonoran Desert, some of my professors, mainly those from the agriculture school, waxed enthusiastically about what the Israelis were doing to stretch their meager water supplies. Surrounded by enemies in a bad neighborhood, they had to make every drop count to make the desert bloom (I first heard this term during these discussions).

So what were my professors so excited about? Genetically-improved (no GMO or GEO stuff in those days) drought-tolerant crops. Growing food in the Negev Desert on two inches of rainfall per year. Drip irrigation. The National Water Carrier. Desalination. Wow!

Later in the early 1980s I met the great Israeli groundwater hydraulician Professor Jacob Bear, a brilliant man whose surname at times reflected his disposition. (Just yell back at him was the advice I received. It worked.) Although I was more interested in his work on groundwater hydraulics he would tell me of the innovative work being done by the Israeli water scientists, managers, and engineers.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Israeli hydrogeologist Steve Mandel, the lead author on the classic book, Groundwater Resources: Investigation and DevelopmentMandel was visiting us water folks at the Desert Research Institute, located in Nevada, the driest state in the USA. He and his colleagues were looking to collaborate on mutual groundwater issues.

Suffice it to say that I have had a fair amount of contact with Israeli water scientists, engineers, managers and their accomplishments over 40+ years. It’s hard to do water work in the Western USA and not know about the Israelis’ achievements in a very dry region similar to the West.

The Book Appears
When I heard about the book in 2015, my attitude was somewhat dismissive. I read the reviews and figured the book held very little for me.  I’d heard it all, or at least all that I believed was worth hearing. Turns out I was wrong, but did not realize it until I met Siegel, heard him discuss and promote his work, and ultimately read it.  Siegel is a compelling, entertaining speaker and a true believer. Besides, I got the book for free so what did I have to lose – some time, perhaps (it’s not a long book).

In the Beginning
Siegel has penned a wonderful narrative of Israel’s success in ‘making the desert bloom’. He is an entertaining, intelligent, and thorough writer. That last adjective should be written in capital letters. He goes right to the horses’ mouths – the interview list covers 11 pages with many ‘movers and shakers’ gracing those pages. That list, plus the notes, bibliography, and index cover 70 pages – about 20% of the book’s almost 350 pages!

Siegel begins  with a two-page timeline starting with the British Mandate in 1920 and two informative maps. Wonderful! How many times have I read a book dealing with geography and there were either no maps or crappy ones? Don’t ask.

The first chapter is a brief introduction to the world water crisis, with all the usual suspects: Lake Mead, Central Valley of California, High Plains Aquifer, climate change, rising population, bad governance,  contaminated water, etc. Siegel alludes to the ‘Manatee Springs and Aquifer’ as being Florida’s largest source of freshwater (page 3). I think he means ‘Floridan Aquifer’. But at least I don’t recall seeing the heinous ‘underground aquifer’ descriptor.

At the end of the chapter  he introduces Israel as a model for the rest of the world, although he does note that some of what works in Israel won’t work elsewhere because of Israel’s small size: it’s slightly larger the the US state of New Jersey – about 20,000 square kilometers or 8,000 square miles. So unlike Israel many places are not going to be moving large amounts of water. Its population is about that of New York City:  8.5 million.

And Then Comes the Deluge
After the introduction, we’re then escorted through Israel’s modern history, which necessarily focuses on water. Siegel tells of the people involved, what they did, etc., often in their own words. Even people like the father of modern Israel – David Ben-Gurion himself – are on the water bandwagon. My God – imagine that – a WaterWonk as your nation’s leader!

We soon realize that the Israelis are on a mission from God – probably not the best terminology, but it’s true. No water, no survival – it’s that simple. So they get down to business – via capitalism, with some help from the government. But make no mistake: the water is under the control of the government. Siegel points to the socialist kibbutz system that allows the country to survive in the early days.

We then learn all about Israel’s successes in the water realm: instilling a water ethic in its people. Building the National Water Carrier. Managing a national water system. Innovation. Growing crops in the desert. Treating waste to produce water. Desalination. Innovation. Yes, innovation.

I was amazed at all they had done, not just technology-wise, but also in terms of management, and outreach – the infusion of an incredible conservation ethic among Israelis. Quite remarkable.

One interesting thing the Israelis have done with all their skills is use them to facilitate hydodiplomacy. They have helped scores of countries with their techniques  and gizmos. Siegel has a good section on this facet.  Even California will benefit, as the Israelis are going to collaborate with the state with its daunting drought.

Siegel wraps up his tale with a chapter summing Israel’s guiding philosophy vis-a-vis water. And a great chart of the sources and uses (annual, I assume) of Israel’s water. It’s quite a way to end an informative, intelligent book.


I was wrong when I thought I wouldn’t learn much. I did, and so will you.

Some Final Thoughts – My Top Ten Take-Aways
1) I was thoroughly impressed with the Israelis’ water conservation ethic and technological prowess.

2) Israel started out essentially water-less but has reversed that in its short lifetime.

3) The USA started out with unimaginable water riches, which we have squandered.

4) Item (3) is why we don’t have a strong water conservation ethic in the USA. We still think it’s the good ol’ days. We also have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve been doing, even when it no longer seems to work too well (operational definition of insanity).

5) The Israeli model of government control of water will never fly in the USA. Can you imagine a National Water Commission in the USA? One with teeth, that is.

6) The USA does have a lot to learn from Israel – desalination, water treatment, reuse, water-efficient farming, etc.

7) I’ll take the USA’s environmental ethic over Israel’s any day.

8) Israel has not been as vigilant as the USA when it comes to environmental protection/sustainability. Here are a few paragraphs from a recent article by Brett Walton at Circle of Blue:

Simply stated, the ecological and political condition of the Jordan River basin is dreadful. Regional tension, ever present between Israelis and Palestinians, surfaced again in recent months as West Bank villages accused Israeli authorities of cutting water supplies during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Israel asserts that Palestinians refuse to cooperate on repairing leaky pipes.

The ecological damage in the region is also severe. The Dead Sea, at the end of the Jordan River, is drying. Water levels are dropping by 1 meter (3 feet) per year because of water diverted upstream. The country’s rivers and springs, some of which tumble through deep chasms to feed the Dead Sea, are polluted and depleted. At times the Jordan resembles a drainage canal, soiled and fetid.

Outside the Jordan Basin is Gaza, which also is a disaster. Groundwater, the main source of public supply for 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, is so saturated with nitrates and bacteria from sewage and with chlorides from encroaching seawater that it is nearly undrinkable.

Not good!

9) Take a look at G. Tracy Mehan III’s excellent review of Siegel’s book.

10) Read the book!


“It’s a desert, stupid!” – bumper sticker, seen in Albuquerque, c. 1992 (thanks to Jean Witherspoon, the creator)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 30 July – 5 August 2016

August 5, 2016 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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512qhXXqZeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Good friend and water journalist extraordinaire John Fleck  had a lot to celebrate this past week. So did the rest of us.

His new book, Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West started being shipped. My copy arrived yesterday and I am anxious to read it, since John’s approach is decidedly against the flow: he’s optimistic and sees examples of cooperation in the Colorado River basin.

The aforementioned was not unexpected; most of us in the Western US water world had known about the book for a couple of years. But John’s appointment as Director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program was unexpected and quite welcomed by many of us. He had been a Writer-in-Residence and a Professor of Practice of Water Policy John+Fleck_thmband Governance  in the Department of Economics for a few years. He is not a ‘traditional academic’ but for a professional program like the WRP that’s a good thing. I applaud the foresight of current/former UNM faculty Janie ChermakBob BerrensBruce Thomson, and Graduate Dean Julie Conrad for making this happen.

Congratulations, John!

Oh, yeah – it’s the first anniversary of the Gold King Mine disaster. Still no plan for addressing this issue on a regional scale – the Western US.

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 “It’s time to stop to fighting over water and turn our attention to another adage Mark Twain likely never said: ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’ When we start talking we can learn to share our beloved but dwindling Colorado River in a changing world.” – John Fleck, last two sentences of his book


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