6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb07db44c6970d-200wiRalph Carr Heath, USGS hydrologist for 34 years and then a consulting hydrogeologist, died on 12 January 2015 in Raleigh, NC. He was 89.

Ralph had a distinguished career with the USGS. It was quite remarkable, especially when one considers that he possessed only a Bachelor’s degree in geology from UNC-Chapel Hill. Still, Heath had the chops to be named the Darcy Distinguished Lecturer by the NGWA in 1990. He lectured on, “Hydrogeology and Hazardous Waste Disposal”, which you can still view on theNGWA site.

What I most remember about Heath is his gem of a publication, the 1983 Water-Supply Paper 2220, Basic Ground-Water Hydrology. 

Download WSP2220_report

A classic if there ever was one, BGWH has been printed ten times and translated into German and Portuguese. Those versions are ones I know for sure; I suspect there is a Spanish version out there somewhere. It’s a remarkable little book, cover the basics of groundwater hydrology with short chapters (a few pages) on various topics. Whe I taught introductory groundwater hydrology I used WSP 2220 as a supplementary text. The students generally loved it, as it simplified concepts or cut through the verbiage and described things simply. I still use it for myself today. I’m on my third copy.

From his obituary in the Raleigh News & Observer:

After discharge from the Navy he returned to UNC Chapel Hill, receiving a BS degree in geology in 1948. During a career as a hydrogeologist with the U.S. Geological Survey from 1948 to 1982, he worked in Florida, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and North Carolina. His positions in the Geological Survey included that of Acting District Engineer in Tallahassee, District Geologist in Albany for New York and southern New England, District Chief of New York, and District Chief in Raleigh for North Carolina. While serving as District Chief in Albany he taught courses in groundwater hydrology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, NY.

Following retirement from the Geological Survey, Mr. Heath began a second career as a consulting hydrogeologist. He also became an Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering at NC State University, Lecturer in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Duke University, and Adjunct Professor of Geology at East Carolina University. He taught courses in groundwater hydrology at NC State and Carolina in the 1980′s and at Duke into the 1990′s. Later, he taught short courses in the Duke Senior Executive Program, for the National Research Council in Denver, for the NC State University Soil Science Department, and for Olson Enterprises of Tabor City, NC.

Mr. Heath was the author or co-author of more than 70 scientific publications, including an introductory groundwater textbook and hydrogeologic maps of the United States and of North America. His Geological Survey publication entitled Basic Ground-water Hydrology has been printed 10 times, and translated versions have been printed in both Germany and Brazil.

His professional honors include both Distinguished Lecturer and the Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecturer of the National Ground Water Association, the first Founders Award of the American Institute of Hydrology, Award for Distinguished Service in Hydrogeology of the Geological Society of America, and the Meritorious Service Award of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

For me, Ralph C. Heath will forever by synonymous with basic groundwater hydrology. So I won’t soon forget him. But I’m sorry, Ralph, ‘ground water’ is now ‘groundwater’.

I’ll also remember him for the following quote:

‘Seldom has so much money been spent so unwisely to accomplish so little.’ - Ralph C. Heath, referring to the Superfund program, 1990 (apologies to Winston Churchill

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 3 – 9 January 2015

January 9, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01b8d0baa443970c-250wiI wasn’t sure I would get this out but thanks to the good folks and Internet at the LufthansaSenator Lounge at the Frankfurt Airport I managed to get an abbreviated version out.

Off to Tehran in a few hours!

My WaterWired blog is 8 years old today. Check out the first post. I used to worry that I would not have enough information to do many posts…3,030 so far, a bit over 1 per day.

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

 ”Because the only thing better than self-promotion is mixed-method self-promotion.” @AcademicsSay

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 December 2014 – 2 January 2015

January 2, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01b8d0b6391e970c-200wiWelcome to 2015! Hope you had a very good start to the new year.

Not as much activity on Twitter this past week.

I added a new category right at the top featuring those Tweets that described ‘Best of 2014′ and related posts.

Click here to view last week’s water news summary.

‘Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by objective truths rather than offended by them.’ - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Here is a report by Emanuele Lobina (of PSIRU) from Corporate Accountability International and the Public Services International Research Unit? It’s titled, Troubled Waters: Misleading Industry PR and the Case for Public Water:

Download Troubledwaters_webres

The report is international in scope.

Here is an article about this report from American City and County on 3 December 2014:

Since 2003, numerous U.S. municipalities, including Atlanta, Indianapolis and others have reclaimed control of their water supplies, ending less-than-favorable public private partnerships (PPPs).

According to a new report released by Corporate Accountability International and the Public Services International Research Unit, titled Troubled Waters: Misleading Industry PR and the Case for Public Water, 33 cities have remunicipalized (or taken back control of) their water systems – five in the past year. In 2014, 10 more have set the legal wheels in motion to regain control. Globally, the number of cities remunicipalizing water exceeds 100.

In many cases, the report claims, cities globally have saved millions by reclaiming water supplies. For example, Paris, France, saved $46 million in the first year after terminating its contract with private water companies Veolia and Suez.

“This report exposes what many communities across the country have Untitled
learned the hard way: when you invite the private water industry into the picture, you jeopardize public health, affordable water, and the sustainability of your water system,” Erin McNally-Diaz, director of Corporate Accountability International’s Public Water Works! Campaign said in a statement.

The report cities specific failed examples of public private partnerships between municipalities and water companies. In many New Jersey municipalities, Untied Water was criticized for failing to pay for critical infrastructure upgrades leading to increased costs, and in St. Louis, public opposition to questionable business practices caused Veolia to withdraw its bid for privatization.

And others are being cautious in light of the failures. Fort Worth, Texas and Redding, Calif., put water privatization proposals under careful scrutiny, and in doing so found they should continue with public operations.

However, in some instances partnerships with the private sector have worked well. Recently Rialto Water Services partnered with Rialto, Calif., to invest $41 million in capital improvements to the municipal water system, and the National Association of Water Companies says that over 2,000 communities across the nation are benefiting from similar arrangements.

The association recently praised a federal report, titled Public Private Partnerships: Balancing the Needs of the Public and Private Sectors to Finance the Nation’s Infrastructure, which found that when properly executed, PPPs can be an effective tool for maintaining overall infrastructure, including water systems, roads, bridges and maritime systems. However, the report warned that PPPs aren’t a “silver bullet.”

John J. Duncan Jr., leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Panel on PPPs, said although these arrangements cannot provide the sole solution to America’s growing infrastructure problems, they can offer significant benefits, particularly for expensive and complicated projects.

To read more ensuring the effectiveness of PPPs, read American City and County’s coverage here. Or to learn about some of the county’s most interesting PPPs, check out the gallery.

The report offered some recommendations to US public officials at state, local and federal levels:

1. Enhance democratic accountability, transparency, and public participation in decision-making on reforming, managing, and financing water supply and sanitation services. Lack of accountability, transparency, and participation are typical problems with water privatization. Asymmetry of information is an obstacle to good decision-making.

2. Ensure that all decision-makers and the public are equipped with real-world information on the problems with privatization, including problems with public-private partnerships (PPPs). An increasing amount of evidence points to the social, economic, and environmental costs of water privatization including PPPs, both in the U.S. and globally. These costs undermine the interests of the communities served by municipal governments. This is why a public discussion is necessary and should be based on real-world evidence, not on public relations materials.

3. Involve community members and community organizations in key decisions on reforming and managing public water services. Social actors—civic organizations, social movements, labor unions, workers, and community members—have an interest in strengthening public water services and can make invaluable contributions to the strengthening of public water systems by sharing their expertise, knowledge, and ingenuity. Their involvement should be prioritized over involving actors with commercial interests in weakening the public sector.

4. Make upfront payments for private water concessions and other PPPs illegal to prevent the distortion of public decisions on water reforms. Upfront payments for private water concessions distort collective decisions by putting the short-term fiscal interest of local governments and the commercial interest of private water corporations before the long-term interest of local communities. This is why they have been outlawed in France by anti-corruption legislation adopted in 1993.

5. Strengthen public water operations and adopt best practices for in-house restructuring and reengineering. International experience shows that the most efficient and effective water operators are found in the public sector. As the public sector is not subject to the profit-maximization imperative, it offers the possibility of reinvesting all available resources for the welfare of local communities. Labor- management partnerships are inclusive and effective ways to successfully implement reengineering.

6. Develop the capacity of public water managers and municipal governments through public-public partnerships (PUPs) and labor-management partnerships. PUPs treat knowledge as a public good to share for the solution of common water-related challenges. Private contracts treat knowledge as a private good, whose access is restricted by commercial confidentiality. This is an obstacle to capacity-building for public operators on how to solve water-related problems and an obstacle for the effective democratic governance of public water systems.

7. Consider alternative project plans developed by public utilities. Often in-house restructuring, reengineering, labor-management partnerships, and PUPs have been adopted in reaction to proposed PPPs and other forms of water privatization. In such cases, in-house restructuring, reengineering, labor- management partnerships, and PUPs have proved to be more effective and efficient than the proposed PPPs, both in the U.S. and internationally.

8. Prioritize public investment in public water infrastructure at every level of government. Public finance is the least expensive way to invest in water systems.290 Public water operators enjoy the advantage of managerial flexibility and democratic control.291 Using public operations and public finance is the most cost-effective way to deliver sustainable water development objectives.292

9. In light of the growing trend of remunicipalization across the globe, U.S. cities currently engaged in PPPs and other types of privatization contracts should take steps to remunicipalize their water utilities. Examples of support for decision-making on remunicipalization include legislation adopted by Lazio’s regional government in Italy, which provides for funding to assist cities with remunicipalizing water services,293 and the French association of public water operators “France Eau Publique,” which disseminates good practices on remunicipalization.294

10. Adopt legislation and policies that support democratic governance, community participation, in-house restructuring and reengineering, labor-management partnerships, and PUPs. While mayors and other public officials often act spontaneously to strengthen public water services,295 legislation and policies aimed at strengthening public water systems define a framework for the systematic enhancement of democratic governance and sustainable management.

I have to include this graphic from the report (page 40). It’s two pages of almost 400 redacted pages received from Veolia when Corporate Accountability International requested its proposal for its ongoing contract with New York City:

Untitled2

All things being equal I favor public agencies but I do not have a knee-jerk opposition to privatization. Whether public or private, T & A – transparency and accountability – are essential.

Happy New Year!

‘Definition of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP): Privatize the profits, socialize the losses.’ - Unknown

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 20 – 26 December 2014

December 26, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Later than usual today – I bet you thought I wasn’t going to post this holiday week. Still B5wYM7JCMAA36FW
here, and I will be posting a week from today as well.

For those of you celebrating a holiday – Winter Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, The Impending End of 2014 — or just another day to try to make the world a better place, enjoy!

See you next year!

Today’s picture: looks like a model, right? I’m told it’s the village of Jeram Perdas in Malaysia, where floodwaters are running wild.

Click here to access the weekly water news.

“Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.” Rene Descartes (thanks to Faruck Morcos)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 13 – 19 December 2014

December 19, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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How to say ‘This is crap!’ in different cultures, from the Harvard Business Review (click to enlarge).

Anglodutch_final

Click here for this week’s water news summary!

“If you can’t reduce a difficult geological or other problem to just one 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper, you will probably never understand it.”- Unknown (rephrase of a quote by Karl Terzaghi?)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 6 – 12 December 2014

December 12, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb07c30837970d-200wiI am recovering from my four days at NWGA’s Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas, where Oregon State University colleague Dorthe Wildenschild (shown here) gave her farewell Darcy Lecture.

The big West Coast storm wreaked a lot of havoc yesterday, including an ‘exciting’ landing for me at Portland International Airport last night.

What struck me were the seven-foot waves produced at Lake Tahoe. These photos are from the Placer County Sheriff’s Twitterwhere you can find more pictures and videos.

Waves

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Enjoy!

“Water management’s ‘Silver Buckshot’ offers how there is no single solution, but instead an elegant array.”- Jeffrey Kightlinger @mwdh2o

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 29 November – 5 December 2014

December 5, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb07bcd973970d-200wiI will be heading to NGWA’s Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas next week, 9-12 December.  It is the place to be if you do groundwater so I hope to see you there!

Maybe Ginny Groundwater (on the far left) will make an appearance! Unlikely, but one can dream. I think she’s with the Orange County Water District.

Ginny GW

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

Enjoy!

“If you have to get old, get as old as you can get.” - Ansel Adams (via @NatGeo)

JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – December 2014

December 1, 2014 | Posted by Susan Scalia
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JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – December 2014

Harrison et al. examine retention of nutrients in oxbow wetlands.

Greathouse et al. examine the influence of Red alder on nitrogen concentrations in the Oregon Coast Range.

Hirsch uses subsampling of six very large datasets to better understand the biases in regression-based flux estimates.

Guo et al. explore the effects of land use/cover change and climate variability on streamflow in northern China during 1961-2009.

Kwan and Swanson use bank erosion hazard index (BEHI) and near-bank stress (NBS) methods for predicting streambank erosion in the Sequoia National Forest.

Tohver et al. examine the nature of changing hydrologic extremes (floods and low flows) under natural conditions for about 300 river locations in the Pacific Northwest.

Peckenham and Peckenham assess data produced by middle level and high school students, looking at the inherent errors associated with method accuracy, student precision, and sample variability.

Payne et al. apply econometric analysis to a unique dataset to estimate the implicit values market participants place on the attributes of shares of ditch company water rights in Colorado’s South Platte River Basin.

Kinoshita et al. review five models commonly used in post-fire hydrologic assessments, looking at input parameters, calibration methods, model constraints, and performance.

Koch et al. use a comprehensive synthesis of data from empirically based published studies and a widely used stormwater best management practice database to assess the variability in nitrogen removal performance of urban stormwater ponds, wetlands, and swales.

About two weeks ago we at Oregon State University were thankful to have Sarah UntitledBates of the National Wildlife Federation and The Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at theUniversity of Montana visit us. She spoke on an important but oft-overlooked issue, Addressing Water Issues in Private Land Conservation Planning.

Here is a PDF of her PPT:

Download Bates_OSU_presentation_Nov2014

Sarah-bates-faces_125x148The presentation was based on her excellent publication that I featured last February, Land Trusts and Water: Strategies and Resources for Addressing Water in Western Land Conservation that was published by the Land Trust AllianceI urge you take a look at it

If you wish to contact Sarah, her email is batess@nwf.org (mistake on PDF).

Enjoy!

“Water is the true wealth in a dry land.” – Wallace Stegner


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