TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 25 – 31 January 2014

January 31, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Hard to believe February is almost upon us.

California takes over from Canada as the most populated category this week. All about the drought, for sure.

The picture is a cloud created by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde (story here).

Click here for the weekly water summary.

Enjoy!

”The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Bertrand Russell (thanks to Faruck Morcos)

Nancy Wells: ‘Water Ethics in Elementary Education’

January 26, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I recently encountered Nancy Wells’ wonderful post at the Water Ethics Network blog. The title is that of her recent Master’s thesis from Lesley UniversityWater Ethics in Elementary Education.

Note: the thesis is supposedly downloadable at the blog site but I was unable to do so. Here is a copy for downloading:

Water_Ethics_Elem_Educ_Thesis_NWells

She begins her post:

Two years ago I was working on my master’s degree, concentrating on water and its relation to sustainability. I was not quite sure of how to put my ideas together into a practical and meaningful application. As I was doing research for a paper on water privatization, I came across a small book by Robert William Sandford and Merrell-Ann S. Phare called Ethical Water: Learning to Value What Matters Most. This book, while small in size was big on content and became the basis for the rest of my academic career and the inspiration for my self-designed degree. All of my thinking about water seemed to suddenly find its focus.

Influenced by the Sandford-Phare book, she realized:

The issue with water went beyond the disproportionate amounts that people had access to and the shortages and lack of sanitation that were occurring around the world. The real problem seemed to be in how easily water was ignored by most people unless there was some issue relating to either its lack or abundance. It was not appreciated for its value in everything including not just health and sanitation, but manufacturing, transportation, energy, and literally every aspect of our lives. Without water there would be no life as we know it on earth.

So she changed the topic of her thesis and decided to focus on educating children as to the importance of water.

I ran across an abstract of a luncheon talk she gave at arecent meeting of the New England Water Works Association:

Expanding Water Awareness

When discussing the importance of water resource management, too often there is a separation between its demand and economic values, from its preservation within a sustainable infrastructure. In an ideal world these ideas or concepts would all be linked together as one functioning and healthy system. If this is not how the world views and deals with our water currently, how can this scenario be changed? This presentation takes a look at water ethics and how it is currently addressed. A growing population, environmental degradation, and a history of apathy show the need to bring water’s importance into our focus. One way to meet the need for water ethics education is to focus on our children while they are still accessible enough to value the natural environment, thereby inspiring an appreciation for water that can carry on throughout their lives. Water ethics education is first defined as an unmet need and the basis of this presentation. General education standards teach lessons on water in relation to science education only. However, water is an area that cannot be limited to one subject because it influences every area of our lives. It is therefore up to us to learn to reconnect with this element that gives and sustains our lives. This study is a window into what we must do to set the groundwork for educating our children today so that they can be better water stewards tomorrow, providing the framework for living in harmony with water in the future.

Wonderful idea – start early with the children! Now, to implement it.

I was struck by her allusion to the Sandford-Phare book. I read it two years ago and was duly impressed and inspired, although unlike Nancy, I seemed to have lost my way.

Much of the aforementioned reminded me of a recent discussion I had with a colleague. We both noted how we are getting bright, engaged students who want to change the world. So what do we do? We proceed to teach them the SOS that hasn’t worked too well. I lamented that I was reading some fascinating books (e.g., David Groenfeldt’s Water Ethics; Christiana Z. Peppard’s Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis) that promulgated different approaches but I wasn’t introducing these concepts to my students.

It’s time for another read of Sandford and Phare, along with Nancy’s thesis. Then it’s time for action.

“Water is an essential element to the very existence of the ecosystem of the entire planet. As water is all around us, it is too easy to look through, instead of at it.” - Nancy Wells

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary,18 – 24 January 2014

January 24, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Two categories have an inordinate number of entries: Canada and WTF?. The former is heavily populated because of my attendance at the Canadian Water Network’s excellent Forum (go here to see all Tweets: #CWNForum). Why the latter category? No clue. But I am confident there is no correlation between the two anomalies. WTF?

Note to my Canadian friends: I resisted the temptation to include a picture 275px-Bob_and_Doug_McKenzieof Bob and Doug McKenzie (well, not a big picture) or utter some inanity, eh?

Take off, hoser!

Click here to access the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

‘You’re here to take our water,right? Tunneling under Lake Erie now.’ – Smiling Canadian border official, upon my entry into the Great White North

IWRM or iwrm: Does the Emperor Finally Need Some New Clothes?

January 23, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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So what’s up with this post? Sounds like something that might be less than laudatory of the IWRM paradigm, which is promoted by organizations such as the World BankUSAID, the EU, and the Global Water Partnership.

It comes from someone who convened and chaired Untitleda conference titled, Integrated Water Resources Management: The Emperor’s New Clothes or Indispensable Process? and is serving as technical chair for an upcoming IWRM conference this June, Integrated Water Resources Management: From Theory to Application. That same person also supported AWRA’s efforts to promote IWRMduring his presidency in 2011 and worked on behalf of IWRM at the 6th World Water Forum.

That person sounds like a hypocrite, right?

That person is yours truly.

I’ve actually maintained a healthy skepticism about IWRM (especially as it relates to groundwater resources). That’s why I was anxious to read the thoughtful paper by Mark Giordano and Tushaar Shah, ‘From IWRM Back to Integrated Water Resources Management’, published in the International Journal of Water Resources Development. Thanks to Michael van der Valk for alerting me to this paper.

Download IWRM_Paper

Abstract
Integrated water resources management provides a set of ideas to help us manage water more holistically. However, these ideas have been formalized over time in what has now become, in capitals, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), with specific prescriptive principles whose implementation is often supported by donor funding and international advocacy. IWRM has now become an end in itself, in some cases undermining functioning water management systems, in others setting back needed water reform agendas, and in yet others becoming a tool to mask other agendas. Critically, the current monopoly of IWRM in global water management discourse is shutting out alternative thinking on pragmatic solutions to existing water problems. This paper explains these issues and uses examples of transboundary water governance in general, groundwater management in India and rural–urban water transfer in China to show that there are (sometimes antithetical) alternatives to IWRM which are being successfully used to solve major water problems. The main message is that we should simply get on with pragmatic politics and solutions to the world’s many individual water challenges.

The take-away for me? You can certainly (and should) support and practice integrated water resources management without buying into the IWRM juggernaut. If you want to call what you do IWRM, I don’t have a problem with that. To me, IWRM is an abbreviation describing a process.

I like how Giordano and Shah conclude their paper:

“As Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues concluded a decade ago: (1) there is no one best system for governing water resources; and (2) many more viable options exist for resource management than envisioned in much of the policy literature. (Ostrom, Stern, & Dietz, 2003). We need to put the problems first and then work to find pragmatic solutions, whether they use IWRM principles or not.” – Mark Giordano and Tushaar Shah

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 11 – 17 January 2014

January 17, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The Polar Vortex is gone (tell that to Miami!), but the ‘Charleston Plume’ is making its way MCHM_Plumedown the Ohio River. So I’ve got a special category for that topic.

The graphic is from the 14 January 2014 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Click here to see the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

“He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself” – Chinese proverb

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 4 – 10 January 2014

January 10, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Looks like the ‘Polar Vortex’ will soon be moving on. Fun while it lasted, right? Maybe I can make it to Buffalo on 18 January!

I have a special category for it this week, and there are some good graphics, including one of a ‘frozen’ WWTP in northeastern Ohio.

The graphic to the left is instructive; here is a better one.

And if, like me, you are flummoxed by all these new weather terms, see this article.

Enjoy!

Click here to view the weekly summary.

“You know, something may be going down tonight, but it ain’t going to be jobs, sweetheart.” - Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), to a female heckler

An Introduction and a Preview…

January 8, 2014 | Posted by admin
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C. Mark Dunning, AWRA President

C. Mark Dunning, 2014 AWRA President

Happy 2014! As I write this on a bright sunny winter’s day here in central Virginia, I’m looking forward to my term as president of AWRA, especially presiding over AWRA’s 50th anniversary.

As with many others, my entry into water resources came about somewhat by accident.

When my enlistment in the U.S. Army came to a close in the early 1970’s, I was faced with finding a job. At that time the federal government had a very simple job application process for veterans – particularly those with advanced degrees in science or engineering. I filled out a short form and received several job offers within a few weeks. One of the offers was from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a water resources planning position.

My acceptance of this offer launched a rewarding career of some 31 years with the Corps. In my early years I did project development work in a Corps district office, working on a large reservoir project, numerous local flood risk management (then termed flood control) projects and the replacement of a major navigation lock and dam. These projects gave me a great appreciation for the role that water resources development plays in supporting the nation’s economic development and improving quality of life. At this time there was also a growing awareness that sustainability had to be part of any development equation, and while sustainable development concepts were not always easy to apply, the results were always better when these concepts were made part of water resources plans.

After spending several years working in the district office I transferred to the Corps’ Institute for Water Resources (IWR) in the Washington, DC area. Known as the Corps’ policy think tank and planning methodology development center, I spent almost 25 years there working on many interesting and challenging projects.

One project, in particular, was very important for introducing me to AWRA. In the late 1990’s several federal water resources leaders promoted an idea for an inter-agency water policy initiative, led by AWRA, to focus attention on critical water resources challenges facing the nation. I was selected to be the Corps of Engineers representative on the federal agency steering committee that planned the event. The water policy dialogue, as the initiative was known, brought together water resources experts to present ideas on critical water resources issues and encouraged discussions among stakeholders from all water sectors. While no consensus was sought, general themes that came out of the dialogue were published and sent to Congress and the Administration.

The first national water resources policy dialogue, held in 2002, proved to be a great success and ultimately led to three additional dialogues. These discussions helped sensitize people to key water resources concepts and issues, like the need for integrated water resources management, that have since found their way into federal agency policies and initiatives.

After retiring from federal service I moved to the private sector and am now a senior planner and project manager for CDM Smith in Fairfax, VA. I have been active in AWRA since working on the national policy dialogues, serving as president of the National Capital Regional Section of AWRA, serving on AWRA’s Board of Directors and now assuming the AWRA presidency for 2014.

So, that’s a little about what continues to be a very rewarding career in water resources. As I look forward to 2014, I intend to use this column to discuss a variety of water resources topics that I hope AWRA members will find interesting and relevant. Part of the time this discussion will take the form of a special feature I’m calling “Windows on Water Management” (WWM) in which I will include interviews with water resources experts on a variety of topics. Look for our first WWM interview next month. Until then, best wishes for a great New Year!

C. Mark Dunning is AWRA President and a senior planner and project manager for CDM Smith, Fairfax, VA. Email: president@awra.org.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 28 December 2013 – 3 January 2014

January 3, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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We concluded one year and began a new one this past week. Naturally, Snowstorm-1many people have compiled lists of the best/worst/whatever of 2013 so I’ll start off ‘TGIF’ with a list of lists mostly related to water.

Those of you in the Eastern US are also enduring the first big winter storm of 2014. Travel safe, or better still, not at all. I am nervously anticipating flying to Buffalo, NY, on 18 January. Could be a real blast!

Click here for the summary.

Enjoy!

“Go away and send more money!” – Wallace Stegner (said about the Western USA – thanks to Thomas Meixner and John Fleck)

Mark DunningC. Mark Dunning, AWRA President

For my first “President’s Message” I want to focus on two questions that bear on the theme of this month’s magazine “AWRA at 50: The Future of Water Resources in the United States:” (1) What does it take for an association to last for 50 years? and (2) What can help set the stage for prospering into the future?

ACHIEVING 50 YEARS

For businesses surviving for 50 years in a competitive marketplace is an achievement to be proud of. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that about half of new businesses survive five years or less, and only about one-third survive 10 or more years. While no such data appear to be available about the longevity of professional associations it is likely that many of the same dynamics that challenge the survival of businesses also apply to associations, and that many of the professional associations present in 1964 when AWRA was founded are no longer in existence. So, it is very likely that AWRA belongs to a select group of organizations that have continued to remain relevant and offer the kinds of services that provide value to water resources professionals.

What accounts for AWRA’s longevity? I am convinced that a major part of the explanation rests with AWRA’s unique culture that promotes AWRA’s core values of
Community, Conversation, and Connections by supporting and nurturing a friendly, problem-solving oriented atmosphere, focusing on developing practical and relevant information about water resources management issues, and by providing multiple opportunities for networking among water resources professionals, and mentoring students and young professionals.

A recent note AWRA received from a young professional who attended our recent 2013 annual conference in Portland, Oregon, encapsulates these positive aspects of AWRA’s culture that I believe is fundamental to our success over the past 50 years:

“… AWRA [provided] a great meeting of professionals young and old to come together and share their research in water. As a student presenter, I was viewed as a young professional and was approached by many people in the field of water research offering me advice and guidance on my career path. The organization has a mindset to help others. When one of the Co-Chairs states at the beginning of the meeting to 500+ people to recognize all the students here and to be open to talk with them, you know that you are in a friendly and relaxed environment. Networking at this national meeting is second to none. There were several networking breaks and sessions as well as a student career networking night dedicated to students starting their careers. The most exciting thing for me at this conference was meeting all the new people and learning where they have been and how they got to where they were. … there was a great variety of topics … from water quality to water resource management to economics to climate change. The variety of research in water was an eye opening experience for me. I had no idea some of the research that is going on focused around water. … All in all, an absolute excellent conference to attend if you have any interest in water research.”

GOING FORWARD – PROSPERING IN THE FUTURE

As part of its strategic planning process conducted in 2013 the AWRA Board of Directors had the pleasure of being assisted by Harrison Coerver, author of the book, Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations. Mr. Coerver’s perspective on creating successful associations in the future, based on his extensive research and consulting experience, rests on a few simple concepts:

  • Associations become (and remain) successful by helping their members become successful.
  • To help their members become successful associations must understand who their members are, what services they desire, and provide these services in ways that members find convenient and accessible.

For AWRA applying these general concepts means that we must continually assess what our members value, as well as scan ahead to be aware of the key water resources challenges and opportunities that are likely to confront our members, and we must work to package and deliver valued services in ways that fit our members’ preferences and circumstances.

In this issue of IMPACT I’ve provided more specifics about how the current board has assimilated Mr. Coerver’s key points to set direction for AWRA in the near term (see pgs. 6 and 7). However, these actions are only a beginning. I would like to hear from you on some or all of the following topics:

  • What AWRA programs and services are most relevant to you?
  • What water resources management topics, challenges, and issues are likely to be increasingly important to you in the coming years?
  • What could AWRA do to enhance its value to you as a water resources professional? What additional benefits and services would you like to see AWRA provide?
  • Going forward, what are the best ways for AWRA to deliver valued member services (e.g., annual conference, specialty conferences, webinars, JAWRA, IMPACT, newsletters, website, other)?
  • What other “keys to future success” should AWRA concentrate on addressing?

Please send me your thoughts to president@awra.org.

A Water Ethics Charter in 2014?

January 1, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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David Groenfeldt is a PhD anthropologist who founded (2009) and directs Img_0103the Water-Culture Institute (“Adding Values to Water Policies’) in Santa Fe, NM. The Institute (WCI) also runs the Water Ethics Network.

He’s the author of a recent book, Water Ethics: A Values Approach to Solving the Water Crisis.

I have known David for several years and admire his work so I was not too surprised when I received this email from him yesterday morning:

I am writing to enlist your support for safeguarding water ecosystems — all of them, everywhere.
The Water-Culture Institute is developing a new way of thinking about water that is based on a very old principle common to Indigenous Peoples everywhere: Putting Nature’s needs ahead of our own immediate desires, so we will all be better off over the long term.  The image of flowing rivers with clean water and healthy fish is not just a romantic idea from the past, but a realistic and necessary expectation for the future.  We need to, and we can, adopt nature-friendly principles to support a sustainable water future.
The approach we are taking is to draft a new statement of principles about water, a “Water Ethics Charter” and then seek endorsements from cities, corporations, and other organizations who will pledge to uphold those principles.  The text of the Charter will be finalized during 2014 and will include the intrinsic value and rights of nature, and ideas of social and cultural justice.  The Charter will provide cities and businesses with clear moral reasons to respect nature in their decisions about water use and management.  For details about how this process will work, see the“water ethics” page of our website.
Our partners in this effort include UNESCO, the French Water Academy, the Club of Rome, and other groups representing both environmental, corporate, indigenous, youth, and other perspectives.  The Water-Culture Institute serves as the lead organization among these groups (for purposes of this initiative), but we need to raise our own funds to provide effective leadership.  Will you help us provide that leadership?
So what exactly would a Water Ethics Charter do? From the aforementioned “water ethics” page:
The Water Ethics Charter will serve as a tool for better decision-making through crystalizing ethical concepts that make intuitive sense to a broad range of stakeholders, cutting across cultural boundaries and gender, age and class distinctions.  The Charter will articulate a common set of principles about how water and water ecosystems should be utilized and protected for the benefit of present and future generations.  Some provisional objectives of the Water Ethics Charter (subject to revision) are the following:

  • Articulate clear principles and guidelines of what constitutes ethical water practices in particular situations;
  • Recognize inherent rights of water ecosystems to exist in a healthy state, and the right of people to enjoy clean water and healthy water ecosystems;
  • Raise awareness about the ethical implications of water policies and water decisions at multiple scales;
  • Elicit endorsement by companies, agencies, cities, indigenous groups and NGOs to uphold and disseminate the Charter;
  • Promote social and legal reconciliation among diverse stakeholders through values-based deliberation and consensus around a shared water ethic.
This will be a tough, but necessary, sell.
The Water Ethics Charter (WEC) movement as described herein arose from a session at the Sixth World Water Forum in Marseille, 2012 March: Toward an Ethical and Spiritual Approach to Water”. A mechanism was established to develop a WEC for presentation at theSeventh World Water Forum in South Korea, 2015 March. The WCI has been designated the lead organization in this effort. A steering committee exists but I could not find its composition. I suspect (and hope) Cynthia Barnett is involved.
Some useful documents from the WCI website:


In his email David also asked for financial assistance to help the WCI fulfill its role as WEC lead organization. All contributions will be matched 1:1 by the Kalliopeia Foundation (up to $8,500). You can donate online or send a check (get WCI’s address from the site). It is tax-deductible for US taxpayers.
This is a worthwhile endeavor. I wish it and David success. I just did my part.
Happy New Year!
And development of a WEC is a good resolution for 2014.

“The water ethic begins with that one, brave steward. Then, it spreads out into the community, building collective courage among citizens, businesspeople, church members, political leaders. Just like ripples of children playing in a wide, free river.” –
Cynthia Barnett, Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, p. 229.

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