Dr. Sharon B. Megdal is Director of the Arizona Water Resources Research Center and one of the sharpest knives in the drawer when it comes to 4x6Megdal20080water resources. I am fond of calling her the ‘Groundwater Governance Goddess’ simply because I don’t know anyone who knows more that she on that topic. She’s also a good friend, and has asked me if I would post this request for help – taking a brief survey on water conservation. It really does take no more than 5 minutes. The survey runs through 8 January 2016.

Conserve2Enhance (C2E) is an innovative program developed by the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center to encourage individuals and businesses to conserve water and then put the value of those water savings back into their community through locally-developed projects. We are currently conducting a survey to evaluate the C2E program’s potential. Your input will help us make C2E tool that can be used by communities across the United States.

Click here (or copy this link: https://uarizona.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_0IFq0AdsRr7dNA1) to take the survey. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. The survey will end on 8 January 2016.

The survey is mobile device friendly!

We thank you in advance for your time and would be glad to answer any questions you might have. Please help us obtain as much feedback on C2E as possible by forwarding this e-mail and survey link to your list serves and others that are interested in water, environmental enhancement, education, or community engagement!

Best regards,

Thanks very much!

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 5 – 11 December 2015

December 11, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Back from DC; lots of rain on tap for western Oregon. As I drove home from the Eugene airport yesterday there was much standing water and streams at near bankfull stage. More rain on tap for the next week or so.

I’ll be in Las Vegas at the NGWA Groundwater Expo next week. No rain in the forecast. Perhaps I will take in the Republican debate on 16 December at The Venetian. Naaaahhhh.

Check out this neat photo of wave clouds by Brad Peterson at the Snow Basin Resort in Utah. Almost looks faked.


Click here for the weekly water news.


“Natural Resources – an incredibly effective way of further impoverishing local communities.” - Michael Kleinman  #DevelopmentDictionary

Can ‘Peace in the Valley’ be Valued?

December 9, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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PVMore stream-of-consciousness from yours truly, this time flying at 35,000 feet to Washington, DC. The thin air is having an effect…

Apologies to the Peaceful Valley folks for my unauthorized use of their logo. They have not endorsed my post.

Can ‘peace in the valley’ – the absence of conflict in a place – be valued in the context of a BCA (Benefit-Cost Analysis)? That is the question that arose at the recent AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference Panel Session 41:

SESSION 41: Panel – Integrated Water Resources Management Clashes
Moderator: Michael E. Campana, AWRA and Oregon State University

Jonathan YoderState of Washington Water Research Center, Pullman, WA
C. Thomas Tebb, Washington State Department of Ecology, Union Gap, WA.

The ‘debate’ between Tom and Jonathan centered around the BCA of the YBIP [Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan] and the issue of a BCA > 1 for the plan as a whole even though some individual sub-plans had BCAs < 1. Should the entire plan be scrapped because all the sub-plans did not have ‘good’ BCAs? Or is there some ‘higher good’ that defies economic analysis?

Below is part of my blog post on that panel (you might want to read the entire post before proceeding, or at least a shorter post by me last winter):

The panel generated lively debate. The upshot was that IWRM is useful, but that perhaps the BCA approach is not the best measure of success or perhaps does not include all costs and benefits. Wayne S. Wright (GeoEngineers and AWRA) and Tony Willardson (Executive Director, Western States Water Council) pointed out that in the YBIP no benefits were assigned to the cessation/mitigation of continued conflict and the avoidance of litigation. As Tony put it, ‘What’s the price of ‘peace in the valley?’”

Tony and Wayne’s point and the phrase Tony used were good ones. The term ‘peace in the valley’ (PITV) refers to the absence of conflict or acrimony. Certainly you can evaluate the cost of litigation and include it in the BCA. But what about the harmony or tranquility that exists because people aren’t fighting over water (or some other resource)? Maybe they are even cooperating! Can that be valued? Could an increase in productivity be an indicator of PITV?  Perhaps that the implementation of the YBIP will usher in ‘peace on the valley’, which defies economic analysis. In that case, all stakeholders might say that the YBIP was worth it. The funders and taxpayers might feel otherwise.

No one at the panel or afterwards offered any advice or enlightenment on the PITV valuation issue. Readers?

The above discussion reminds me of a question I posed to an economist colleague a number of years ago. At that time, in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, I heard a farming advocate speak of the value of the farm lifestyle. Not the goods produced or somesuch, but the values it fostered: community, hard work, friendship, honesty, stewardship, etc. Surely most people would agree that those are valuable traits. But how much ($$$) are they worth? I asked my friend if an economist could value such a lifestyle. He replied that he did not know of any way to do such a thing – not with any credibility, anyway.

In a related issue, the cover story of the  7 December 2015 High Country News is titled, ‘Good Neighbors’ by Brian Mockenhaupt. It’s wonderful.  Reading it spurred me to write this post, which I had been considering for a couple of weeks.

Comments are welcomed.

 ”It’s in your best interests to have good neighbors, and to be a good neighbor.” - Arizona rancher Richard Winkler, Jr., from the aforementioned HCN story

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 28 November – 4 December 2015

December 4, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Willamette-river-overall-mapDid not make it to the COP21 meeting in Paris. It’s above my pay grade. Let’s hope there is no ‘Wait’ll next year!’

I did get the Willamette River report card: B- overall,  (click on the graphic to enlarge it). That’s reminiscent of my first two years in college. Not good!

Thanks to Tara Davis, Executive Director of the Calapooia Watershed Council for sending the information my way - click here.

Click here to enjoy the weekly water news summary.

“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


December 1, 2015 | Posted by Susan Scalia
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In two companion papers, one by Domagalski and Saleh and the other by Saleh and Domagalski, the authors use SPARROW models to simulate annual phosphorus loads and concentrations and to evaluate the spatial distribution of total nitrogen sources, loads, and watershed yields of streams in California and adjacent states.

Pendergrass et al. examine the influence of bird habitation of bridges on stream bacteria.

Zhang et al. assess long-term nitrogen and sediment trends in non-tidal Chesapeake watershed rivers.

Brody et al. analyze the effects of land use and land cover on flood losses along the Gulf of Mexico coast from 1999 to 2009.

McCandless et al. present bank-full regional curves for the Alleghany Plateau, Valley, and Ridge; Piedmont; and Coastal Plain regions of Maryland.

Pradhananga et al. evaluate landowner motivations for civic engagement in water resource protection.

Hancock et al. develop a geospatial method to identify locations of concentrated runoff from agricultural fields.

Tang et al. use fly ash as a marker to quantify culturally-accelerated sediment accumulation in playa wetlands.

Villines et al. use GIS to delineate headwater stream origins in the Appalachian coalfields of Kentucky.

Petersen-Perlman and Wolf identify strategies for initiating cooperation and enhancing security in transboundary river basins.

Reiter et al. examine spatio-temporal patterns of open surface water in the Central Valley of Calfornia during 2000-2011and evaluate the influences of drought and land use.

Williamson et al. develop a TOPMODEL-based approach to classify ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial stream reaches.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 21 – 27 November 2015

November 27, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Heading home from Stockholm in a few hours after an ‘exhilarating’ meeting of the Global Water Partnership Steering Committee. One sad moment was our bidding farewell to Dr. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, the SC’s dynamic, intelligent, and dedicated SC chair.

WaterAs a memento of her service, she received home-country water samples from SC members, GWP staff, and GWP Regional Partnership memberswhich were commingled in a decanter. In this picture, Rudolph Cleveringa, GWP Executive Secretary, provides a sample. I provided the USA sample, a mixture of water from Oregon’s Cascade Range and the Potomac River basin.

We will miss her leadership.

This bulletin comes from a good friend, Francesca Greco, of the World Water Assessment Program. Please help her if you can. Thanks.

Ends 30 Nov! @UNWWAP Download “water & gender” data collection pub. Gender equality is @UNESCO priority! Help us! http://thndr.me/FDkbim

Click here for the weekly water news summary.


‘Das Glück hilft dem Kühnen.’ - German proverb (Translation: ’Fortune favors the bold.’)

The Paper

You’ve got to check out this paper:

Tom Gleeson, Kevin M. Befus, Scott Jasechko, Elco Luijendijk & M. Bayan Cardenas, The Global Volume and Distribution of Modern GroundwaterNature Geoscience (2015) doi:10.1038/ngeo2590

Download Ngeo2590

Click on the graphics to enlarge them, or see the paper.


Groundwater is important for energy and food security, human health and ecosystems. The time since groundwater was recharged—or groundwater age—can be important for diverse geologic processes, such as chemical weathering, ocean eutrophication and climate change. However, measured groundwater ages range from months to millions of years. The global volume and distribution of groundwater less than 50 years old—modern groundwater that is the most recently recharged and also the most vulnerable to global change—are unknown. Here we combine geochemical, geologic, hydrologic and geospatial data sets with numerical simulations of groundwater and analyse tritium ages to show that less than 6% of the groundwater in the uppermost portion of Earth’s landmass is modern. We find that the total groundwater volume in the upper 2 km of continental crust is approximately 22.6 million km3 , of which 0.1–5.0 million km3 is less than 50 years old. Although modern groundwater represents a small percentage of the total groundwater on Earth, the volume of modern groundwater is equivalent to a body of water with a depth of about 3 m spread over the continents. This water resource dwarfs all other components of the active hydrologic cycle.


Download Ngeo2590

Here is a CBC article on the research.

‘Environmental’ Tritium and My Stone-Age Approach

Gleeson and his colleagues (I know only Soctt Jasechko well) have done a meticulous, remarkable job using the environmental tracer tritium (the radioactive form of hydrogen with a half-life of about 12.32 years) and numerical modeling on a global scale to estimate the volume of global groundwater.

Note that most of the atmospheric tritium that has entered subsurface water was produced by atmospheric thermonuclear bomb testing, much of which ceased in 1963, when the USA, the then-Soviet Union, and the UK agreed to cease such testing. The other major atmospheric testers, France and China, continued until 1974 and 1980, respectively. Others – presumably (?) Pakistan, India, and Israel – continued atmospheric testing.

You may question the application of the word ‘environmental’ applied to bomb tritium but that refers to the fact that the tritium is introduced into the groundwater by natural processes – rainout and subsequent infiltration and recharge.

I am partial to the groundwater tracer tritium since part of my PhD dissertation, Toiletdefended 40 years ago on 19 November 1975, used a primitive mixing-cell model that traced tritium in the Edwards aquifer in Texas to characterize groundwater ages and recharge rates to the aquifer. Yeah, here it is: Finite-state models of transport phenomena in hydrologic systemsThe title? Pretentious? Moi?

But I digress….

Back to Gleeson’s Good Stuff

Yes, the Gleeson et al. approach provides estimates, but it’s the best one I can think of. They deserve a lot of credit. As they point out, their data indicate nothing about the quality of the groundwater nor its recoverability. Like its fluid counterparts oil and gas, groundwater cannot be 100% extracted.

The authors state that based on the groundwater that is ‘modern’  - recharged  during the past 50 years – only 6% of the groundwater in the upper 2 km of Earth’s crust is renewable. What bothers me is that social media and the press like to pick up on this figure without qualifying that it is based upon groundwater that is no older than 50 years (based upon the global average life expectancy). Why? Simple – it makes things look ‘bad’, and that looks good for the ‘water crisis’.

Still, that 6% amounts to a huge out of water:



I should add that the CBC article corrected its omission of the 50-year qualification.

Had Gleeson et al. used their higher estimate of young groundwater – 5 million cubic kilometers (see abstract), then the renewability percentage would be 22%, not 6%. Had they used their lower estimate of 0.1 million cubic kilometers the percentage would have been just 0.4%. Go figure.

Some Thoughts and a Modest Proposal

Groundwater renewability, as defined by Gleeson et al., needs to be qualified according to the age of the groundwater that’s renewable. So why not discuss groundwater renewability in terms of its time scale, i.e., the 50-year GWR (groundwater renewability), 100-year GWR, 200-year GWR, etc. It might not be as satisfying to some people as the worst case scenario, but it is more appropriate for a resource that is renewed on time scales often exceeding human lifespans.

End of story.

End of my day.

The following quote seems most appropriate, especially if you read my dissertation.

“…essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” - G. E. P. Box and Norman R. Draper

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 14 – 20 November 2015

November 20, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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6a00d8341bf80a53ef01bb0893942c970d-300wiRunning late today. Trying to catch up after being at the AWRA Conference all week and heading to Stockholm on 23 November for the GWP Steering Committee meeting.

AWRA was very productive. Even had our version of the recent UFC Rousey-Holm fracas. But we had two winners – Tom Tebb and Jonathan Yoder – and no blood was spilled (thanks to Wayne Wright for catching the two victors and the referee).

Check here for the story. Click here for the weekly water news summary!

See you next week!

‘Water is a wicked problem – not evil, but complex.’ - Will Sarni

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 7 – 13 November 2015

November 13, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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13Third and last Friday the 13th of 2015. Triskaidekaphobes, beware!

I will be in Denver at the AWRA Annual Water Resources Meeting next week so I won’t be doing as much Tweeting (famous last words). The meeting’s hashtag is #AWRA2015.

OMG? LMAO! What’s this?

Splash-title-029See here (thanks Dave Gunderson).

Click here for the weekly water news summary.

“From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggettie beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.” - Scottish prayer

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 31 October – 6 November 2015

November 6, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Final-ProgramHad a great time at the GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore and am now looking forward to the AWRA Annual Water Resources Conference in Denver, 16-19 November. Looks like we will have a record attendance. Here is the final program:

Download Final_Program_AWRA2015

See you there!

If you have a nominee for the best water-smart city in the developing world, let Guardian reporter Katherine Purvis know. She would like to write an article on the ten best such cities. Her piece will have a format similar to this articleYou can email her at Katherine.Purvis@theguardian.com.

Click here to access the weekly water news.

It’s not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.’ - Edwin Land (tnx @LifelongAttempt)


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