Actions and Activities


The purpose of this web site is to promote coordination of information about water sustainability. Users are invited to send pertinent information to, for possible inclusion on the web site. Because this web site is nongovernmental, it does not represent policy positions of any agency or organization.

The content of the web site changes about once per week. Most of the changes are currently additions to the 1996-2018 Reports and Publications list of documents, with links to the full text wherever possible.

The web site includes the Compendium of Water Indicators, a Full List of Water Indicators, Actions and Activities about water sustainability, Reports and Publications, Conditions and Trends Statistics, and Related Links. UN information is included, and definitions of sustainability. How indicators might be institutionalized is described in a session held by the National Council on Science and the Environment.

A set of slides has been included here to help the user understand sustainable water resources, and the role that indicators play in determining sustainability. The slides can be found at:


During 2007, a water indicators framework was developed by the  Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR). To populate the framework with statistical data, mostly in the form of graphs and maps, a Draft Compendium of Feb. 5, 2008 was prepared. This statistical compendium was presented for review and comment at the February meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information ( The complete water indicators compendium is on line at:

You can download a copy from that location. We are seeking additional or updated information that will help improve the draft compendium. For example, one comment is that there is little or no information about natural hazards like floods and droughts. Please help find additional statistical information for the compendium. The most useful leads are those that give specific web locations, reports, or similar concrete sources. Because this is quite a large undertaking, it may well take some time before the current document can be updated.

Some updates and additions to the Sustainable Water Resources Indicators have been made. The National Environmental Status and Trends indicators have been utilized. For the updates of February 2010, please go to:

Over a period of years, papers were prepared for the annual technical conferences of the Water Environment Federation (WEFTEC). Although some of these papers were given in the past, the ideas in them remain relevant to the problem of how to define and evaluate sustainable water resources. Now these papers are available free of charge courtesy of the Water Environment Federation (see left column). Following is a summary of the topics covered in the papers, which form a set of evolving concepts from beginning to end:

Selecting water resources indicators from available data bases.

Scale issues and the geography of indicators. State, regional, and local indicators.

Report of the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable on national indicators.

Public policy issues as driving forces for indicator selection.

Sustainability of marine fisheries resources.

Sustainability indicators and biofuels production.

Rating watershed sustainability with examples from New Orleans and Los Angeles.

Hydraulic fracturing in the context of sustainable water management.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has posted a web site with indicators that relate to sustainability. Because this is an important aspect of sustainable water resources, this may be a useful reference. The web site can be found at:

The indicators are not exclusively aimed at water resources, but instead contain a variety of information.



Contact to subscribe to weekly NEWS NOTES about water sustainability.



Year 2018


The Great Marib Dam

Everyone knows about the seven wonders of the ancient world – but there is a monumental structure archaeologists and historians like to call the eighth wonder of the world: the Great Marib Dam in southern Arabia, in what is today Yemen. The ancient society there demonstrated great engineering ingenuity in order to take advantage of the periodical monsoon rains. Without water there is no life. True to this maxim, the subjects of the ancient Kingdom of Sheba in Marib collected water by building a gigantic dam so as to be able to supply their cities with this precious liquid.

As the Sabaean kingdom developed, they built a huge earth filled dam in the second half of the 6th century BC to hold back some of the water that came down the wadi. From the lake that developed behind the dam, they developed a splendid irrigation system that watered about 25,000 acres.

Pictures of the current dam, as well as of the ancient dam, can be found at

Information about the Sabaean civilization, which is perhaps familiar as Sheba, can be found at


December 4 Webinar from Water Environment Federation (WEF)

  • December 04, 2018
  • 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Eastern Time

This webinar, presented by the WEF Government Affairs Department and the Government Affairs Committee Member Association Subcommittee, will provide an update on the results of the midterm election and potential impact on legislative and regulatory issues in Washington. In addition, Member Associations (MAs) from EPA Regions 5 and 6 will report on regional, issues and initiatives with a focus on how they interact with their state legislature and regulatory agencies. This is a quarterly update and each quarter different MAs will provide regional updates. 

The WEF Government Affairs Committee tracks legislative and regulatory efforts with respect to water and other environmental issues on the national level, informing members and providing education about our profession to legislators and regulatory officials. The Member Association (MA) Subcommittee is tasked with increasing communication with respect to federal issues and local impacts. The MA Subcommittee also wants to be aware of local issues that may inform other MAs about regulatory trends.


Tufts Masters Degree in Sustainability

Tufts has announced a new graduate program as part of its commitment to building a more sustainable and equitable planet. The Master’s of Science in Sustainability, offered by the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP), will begin in fall 2019.  

Ann Rappaport, EG92, UEP faculty member and co-chair of the university’s Sustainability Council, said the program recognizes the urgent and increasing need for sustainability experts to ensure a healthy, livable planet.

The multidisciplinary Tufts program can be completed in a year by full-time students, and allows students to connect their sustainability studies to their interest in fields such as economics, biology, and public health.

The program differentiates itself through its commitment to social justice and by being housed within UEP, which was established 45 years ago and has graduates in government, nonprofit organizations, citizen advocacy groups, international NGOs, and the private sector. 

The thirty-six-credit program is designed for full-time completion in twelve months, although students may also pursue the program part-time. Most core courses and electives build on extensive offerings within UEP, but the program will also encompass sustainability related courses throughout the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Students can pursue a sustainability solutions approach or a natural systems emphasis, or craft a program that includes elements of both.

The program complements other sustainability-related programs offered at Tufts. They include a Master of Science in Sustainable Water Management, offered through the Tufts Institute of the Environment; a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Urban Justice and Sustainability (a post-master’s program for working professionals); an online graduate certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and a joint master’s degree offered by UEP and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the School of Engineering.


Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable

On May 3, 2018 the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) held a meeting at the Sonoma County Water Agency, Healdsburg, CA. The theme of the meeting was Restoration and Management for Sustainability.

A number of presentations were given which are available via the web site above. Key sessions included:

Water Sustainability Outlook and Indicators

Drought and Flood in the Russian River Watershed

Restoring People and Watersheds After Fires and Floods

Partnerships on Sustainable Groundwater Management

Innovation, Technology, and Policy to Tap Multiple Benefits

A field trip was also held to visit the site of the Dry Creek stream restoration project.



USGS Biouptake Research

The Bio-Uptake Research Laboratory uses novel stable isotope tracing techniques to assess the bioavailability of inorganic contaminants and characterize the underlying processes governing their bioavailability.

Contaminant bioavailability matters because bioavailability is a key driver of bioaccumulation, which often precedes the onset of biological effects. An understanding of the biogeochemical processes governing bioavailability can help differentiating perceived versus actual environmental health effects.

They study dissolved metals such as copper (Cu), silver (Ag), uranium (U), and zinc (Zn); and synthesized and natural forms of particulate metals as well as engineered nanomaterials.



USGS Disaster Analysis

Natural (coastal storms, wildfires, floods) and human-induced (structural failures, building collapse, oil, and/or chemical spills) disasters occur every year in the United States. Minimizing loss of human life and damages to personal property and infrastructure is the focus of most disaster response and preparedness activities by federal, state, and local communities. However, the potential for threats from exposures to chemicals and pathogens during post-disaster events is typically unknown but is speculated about by the media and public based largely upon their perceptions or fears.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Environmental Health Mission Area Disaster Science Team's unique expertise uses novel field- and laboratory-based science tools to rapidly assess, understand, and anticipate the potential health hazards posed by disaster-related contaminants and pathogens to employees, residents, visitors, and Native American populations on public and U.S. Department of Interior managed lands, and to fish and wildlife species.


Algal Toxins

Scientists at the Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory (OGRL) in Lawrence, Kansas, develop and employ targeted and non-targeted analytical methods for identification and quantification of known and understudied algal/cyanobacterial toxins that can impact the health of humans and other organisms. Newly acquired (2018) instrumentation will expand capabilities to continue toxin detection with increased throughput, connect toxin exposure with biomarkers to meet the growing demand for reliable algal toxin data and better define health effects thresholds.


USGS Hydrogeophysics

The geophysicists and hydrologists at the Hydrogeophysics Laboratory develop, demonstrate, and support the application of geophysical methods to environmental-health investigations. They have expertise in a diverse suite of geophysical field methods including electrical, electromagnetic, seismic, radar, gravity, and thermal; these methods are run from land-based, waterborne, unmanned aerial system (UAS), and airborne platforms.



Tsunamis are ocean waves caused by large earthquakes and landslides that occur near or under the ocean. Scientists do not use the term "tidal wave" because these waves are not caused by tides. Tsunami waves are unlike typical ocean waves generated by wind and storms. When tsunamis approach shore, they behave like a very fast moving tide that extends far inland. A rule of thumb is that if you see the tsunami, it is too late to out run it.

As with many natural phenomena, tsunamis can range in size from micro-tsunamis detectable only by sensitive instruments on the ocean floor to mega-tsunamis that can affect the coastlines of entire oceans, as with the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

This web site gives background information about how tsunamis occur and where to find data. There are summaries of geographic areas where significant tsunami activity has happened in the past, and under what conditions tsunamis might occur in the future.


San Francisco Bay

The vast San Francisco Bay and Delta region of California is located at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. It is often referred to as the San Francisco Bay estuary. Since the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills in 1848, this region has undergone rapid, large-scale, and permanent changes driven by population migration attracted to the region's natural setting and economic opportunities. The consequent land use changes, particularly urbanization, have resulted in the loss of wetlands, alteration of freshwater inflows, contamination of water, sediments and biota, and declines of fish and wildlife species.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has maintained a broad program of multi-disciplinary research studies, both fundamental and applied, in the San Francisco Bay estuary and its watershed. The studies help us understand the extent and impact of these changes, as they also help decision-makers use science to help mitigate adverse effects. USGS studies often are conducted in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, and have been designed to increase our understanding of important issues. These issues include waste disposal, water flow management, harbor/channel dredging, wetland restoration, food web processes, exotic species impacts, natural hazards mitigation, and maintaining quality of life.

This web site was created to help disseminate information via the World Wide Web. Here you will find examples of USGS publications, posters, maps, and other information on the San Francisco Bay & Delta region from many disciplines.

Explore the San Francisco Bay Bathymetry web site, where we provide location-depth grids of the most recent bathymetry available for San Francisco Bay and some tools for examining those grids.


CIRES and the Western Water Assessment sponsor a webinar series on Reservoir Sedimentation and Sustainability.

The nation’s 90,000 dams and reservoirs constitute a critical component of the country’s infrastructure ensuring the stability of water and energy supplies and flood risk management. However, the reservoir storage capacity, essential to meeting these purposes, has been filling with sediment (clay, silt, sand, gravel, and cobble).

The Subcommittee on Sedimentation’s National Reservoir Sedimentation and Sustainability Team presents on sustainable solutions to reservoir sediment management.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sedimentation Management for Multi-Purpose Reservoirs: A Federal Perspective

Dr. Tim Randle, P.E. and Dr. Paul Boyd, P.E.

11:00 AM, MDT | 1:00 PM, EDT | 12:00 PM, CDT | 10:00 AM PDT


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Permitting for reservoir sediment management

Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss, P.E.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Reservoir sedimentation monitoring

Dr. Greg Morris, P.E.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Economics of Sustainable Reservoir Sediment Management

Dr. George Annandale, P.E. and

Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss, P.E.


To register for the webinars, go to:


For more information, please contact:

Tim J. Randle, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE.

Manager, Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

P.O. Box 25007 (mail code:  86-68240)

Denver, Colorado  80225




Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI)

ACWI held an annual meeting at the USGS National Center on Jan. 17-18, 2018. This meeting is to exchange information on water resources among government and other organizations. The membership includes government, professional associations, and private sector organizations, and is authorized under OMB Memorandum 92-01 and the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Reports were presented from ACWI subgroups, which are given in the linked agenda. For example, this included the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable, which presented on Jan. 18. General information about ACWI can be found at


USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program (TSHP) supports specialized teams of hydrologists, geologists, and chemists who develop and apply advanced laboratory methods and field investigations to understand how contaminants and pathogens enter and move through the environment. In collaboration with the Contaminant Biology Program, TSHP works with our stakeholders within and outside the Department of the Interior (DOI), including other government agencies, industry, NGOs, academia and others, who tell us we are uniquely capable of helping them protect that most precious of resources, health. We do this by filling the data gaps they have prioritized for us.


Reservoir Sedimentation Webinars

The nation’s 90,000 dams and reservoirs help ensure the stability of water and energy supplies and flood risk management. However, reservoir storage capacity, essential to meeting these purposes, has been declining as reservoirs fill with clay, silt, sand, gravel, and cobble sediment, in a process known as reservoir sedimentation.

In this webinar series, sponsored by CIRES Education & Outreach and CIRES Western Water Assessment, the Subcommittee on Sedimentation’s National Reservoir Sedimentation and Sustainability Team presents sustainable solutions to reservoir sediment management. 

Webinar schedule: (webinars are one hour in length and start at 11 am MT / 10 am PT / 12 pm CT / 1 pm ET) 

  • Jan. 18, 11am MT, Dr. George Annandale, P.E.: Overview of Sustainable Reservoir Management and Reservoir Sedimentation (webinar link)
  • Feb. 22, 11 am MT: Dr. Greg Morris, P.E.: Reservoir Sedimentation Management Options and Data Needs
  • Mar. 22, 11 am MT: USACE & Reclamation: Sediment Management for Multi-Purpose Federal Reservoirs
  • Apr. 26, 11 am MT: Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss, P.E.: Permitting for Reservoir Sediment Management
  • May 24, 11 am MT: Dr. George Annandale, P.E. & Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss, P.E.: Economics of Sustainable Reservoir Sediment Management 

Approximately one to two weeks after each webinar, a permanent link to the recorded webinar will be posted.


USGS Priority Ecosystems

The mission of Priority Ecosystem Science (PES) is to provide science in support of adaptive management of ecosystems that have near-term societal concern and significant long-term societal value. Studies are designed to serve local ecosystem management needs and to provide knowledge and approaches transferable to similar ecosystems across the Nation. PES efforts focus in areas where new integrated science approaches can be developed to address the needs of a diverse group of decision-makers and to meet Department of the Interior's responsibilities to manage the Nation's lands.

Activities require collaboration and integration of expertise from the four USGS disciplines, Biology, Geology, Geography, and Water to achieve a system-scale understanding of the natural and anthropogenic factors affecting ecosystems and to better understand the interactive nature of resources and the environment. On a larger scale, PES efforts contribute to a broader capability needed to understand and assess the health of the Nation's ecosystems.

Current PES study units include the Greater Everglades, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, the Mojave Desert, and the Platte River.


Year 2017


Mapping Water Use

Water is one of our nation’s most important natural resources, one that’s long been considered inexhaustible. Yet changes in land use, climate, and population demographics are placing unprecedented demands on America’s water supplies. As droughts rage and aquifers dwindle, people may wonder: Is there enough water to meet all our needs?

Landsat satellites are helping to answer that question.

Using Landsat satellite data, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have helped to refine a technique called evapotranspiration (ET) water-use mapping to measure how much water crops are using across landscapes and through time. These ET water-use maps are created using a computer model that integrates Landsat and weather data.


Crucial to the process is Landsat’s thermal (infrared) band. Thanks to that thermal band with its 100-meter resolution, water-use maps can be created at a scale detailed enough to show how much water crops are using at the level of individual fields anywhere in the country. 


ET water-use maps can show how much water crops are using in a single day or during an entire growing season. Drawing on the vast Landsat satellite image archive, it’s also possible to create maps that span decades to reveal long-term trends in water use. That Landsat archive—invaluable to water-use mapping and so much more—might never have become a reality without the visionary support given to Earth observation from space by Interior Secretary Stewart Udall during the 1960s.

USGS scientists can map water use at different scales to address different water resource questions and concerns. Field-scale maps, for example, are powerful tools for estimating and managing water consumption on irrigated croplands. They can help answer questions such as:

  • Where is water being used, how much, and by whom?
  • Which types of crops are using the most, or least, water?
  • Can water be used more efficiently without impacting crop yields?

Basin-scale water-use maps assist in understanding water balance and availability in river basins and watersheds. These large-area maps are useful for:

  • Estimating water use by different sectors within a watershed.
  • Resolving disputes regarding water rights and allocations.
  • Evaluating aquifer depletions and quantifying net ground water pumping.

According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, 40 of 50 state water managers expect water shortages in their states between now and 2023. Addressing concerns about America’s water resources begins with a clearer understanding of water availability and water-use trends. Mapping water use based on Landsat satellite data has demonstrated immense potential at local and regional scales, and will soon become the basis for monitoring and assessing water use across the nation.


Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful and catastrophic Cape Verde type hurricane, the most intense observed in the Atlantic since Dean in 2007. It was also the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005, and the first major hurricane to make landfall in the state of Florida since Wilma in 2005. The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in parts of the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.

Irma developed on August 30, 2017 near the Cape Verde Islands, from a tropical wave that had moved off the west African coast three days prior.  Under favorable conditions, Irma rapidly intensified shortly after formation, becoming a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale within a mere 24 hours. It became a Category 3 hurricane (and therefore a major hurricane) shortly afterward.

The storm caused catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla and the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane. As of September 15, the hurricane has caused at least 82 deaths, including 43 in the Caribbean and 39 in the United States.


Possible Funding for Water Facilities in 2017

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) reports on planned legislation for the drinking water state revolving fund.

EPA would be authorized to spend up to $8 billion over five years on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) under draft legislation that is being developed by Republican members of the House Environment Subcommittee.

Labeled the Drinking Water System Improvement Act, an earlier draft of the legislation was the subject of a hearing of the House Environment Subcommittee last month.  While an updated draft of the bill has not been made publically available, congressional staff recently briefed AMWA and other water sector stakeholders on major provisions of the bill’s most recent version.  The bill would authorize $8 billion for the DWSRF over five years.

Environment Subcommittee Republicans hope to attach the bill to a larger infrastructure bill that Congress may attempt to pass this year.  The draft bill has not won the backing of the subcommittee’s Democratic minority, who favor broader DWSRF legislation that would include reforms to the Safe Drinking Water Act’s contaminant regulatory process and new regulations aimed at increasing the security of water treatment facilities.  While Republicans could likely pass their bill through committee without any Democratic votes, a strictly partisan DWSRF bill could have a more difficult time latching onto a broader infrastructure package.


Western Cities Water Supply Challenges

Amid the concerns over drought, California local governments generally have a positive story to tell about investment in public water and sewer; and that is important because it affects the daily lives of some 38 to 39 million state residents, local commercial and industrial businesses, and public institutions. It is a barometer of California’s local government commitment to ensuring safe drinking water and protecting and improving water quality. Local governments in California invested $10.9 billion in 2000 and doubled that investment to $21.5 billion by 2013. The current Census estimate for 2014 is $22.1 billion- another increase of 2.56% when the national average for year over year growth in American cities was 2.2%.

Safe drinking water and protection of water quality are costly activities for local government, and strong local balance sheets and resources are a pre-requisite for investment. Here too, like investment in water and sewer, California local government finances tell a positive story. Total local government revenues and own-source revenue (property, income and sales tax; and fees and charges for services) have doubled from 2000 to 2014 while population has increased roughly 15%. Public water and sewer are financed with a combination of debt and ‘fee for services’ revenues from customers (households/rate payers). Fees for water and sewer services are usually a component of own source revenue. The latest local government Census data in California indicates that own source revenue increased 88% from 2000 to 2014, and local investment in public water and sewer has risen along with and above the national average at 102%. Additionally, the ratio of long-term debt is flat or slightly declining: the ratio of long-term debt to own source revenue was 1.7 in 2000, 2.06 in 2013 and 2.03 in 2014.

The water supply component of annual investment, double that of sewer investment, is spread over the state in cities from north to south, but transfers of water north to south, and reliance on traditional supplies has proven to be risky in the last and very recent drought. Cities introduce resiliency by diversifying water supply sources. Interestingly, treated wastewater discharges often leave the city on the downstream flow of a river, but now cities are eyeing that flow as a possible new source. Similarly, storm waters usually run off into lakes, streams, and oceans; but now cities see that runoff as a new source of supply. Water recycling for both potable and non-potable uses are becoming common practices. Mayors and national experts participating in the Santa Barbara conference discussed a variety of city and regional projects they are investing heavily in, and the information is emerging on the cost of these various diversification options compared to traditional single-source treatment costs. The experts caution, however, that proliferation of recycling and reuse will likely face federal regulatory impediments with the lack of policy, rules or guidance.

A variety of local solution sets and practices were discussed and outlined in the linked article.


ICWP and Corps of Engineers

In cooperation with the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP), the US Army Corps of Engineers has carried out work on sustainable water resources. More information may be found at:

Our Nation needs effective solutions for our current and future water resource needs. As we look to the future, aging infrastructure, availability of funding and increased demands on the Nation's water resources caused by population expansion, the need for environmental sustainability and management of the impacts of climate change will only increase the criticality of developing and maintaining our National water treasures. Our goal is to identify and leverage opportunities for collaborative efforts and to create a joint national dialogue for water priorities between states, tribes and the federal resource agencies. By reinforcing partnerships and a more unified Federal voice, we aim to further leverage Federal resources in assisting tribes and states in their water resources planning and management in an era of constrained resources.


Sustainable Water at the American Chemical Society (ACS)

Billions of people around the world are facing shortages of clean water. At least 80 countries already have water shortages that threaten human health and economic activity. Almost one billion people lack reliable access to clean drinking water. And the situation may worsen with population growth and global climate change.

This site includes many links from the ACS.  There are Congressional briefings and presentations, press releases, and other print and video items. For example, it covers how to supply safe drinking water, a vital subject due to human health. The global water crisis is one of the most important topics.


USDA/NRCS Watersheds

There are over 1,300 active or completed watershed projects. Assistance may be provided in authorized watershed projects to install conservation practices and project measures (works of improvement) throughout the watershed project area. The planned works of improvement are described in watershed project plans and are normally scheduled to be installed over multiple years. All works of improvement, including floodwater retarding dams and reservoirs, are owned and operated by the sponsoring local organizations and participating individuals.

The Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (WFPO) Program provides technical and financial assistance to States, local governments and Tribes (project sponsors) to plan and implement authorized watershed project plans for the purpose of:

  • watershed protection
  • flood mitigation
  • water quality improvements
  • soil erosion reduction
  • rural, municipal and industrial water supply
  • irrigation
  • water management
  • sediment control
  • fish and wildlife enhancement
  • hydropower

Under the Watershed Program NRCS cooperates with States and local agencies to carry out works of improvement for soil conservation and for other purposes including flood prevention; conservation, development, utilization and disposal of water; and conservation and proper utilization of land.


Oroville Dam Crisis

For basic information on the Oroville Dam see

The 2017 Oroville Dam crisis is a major and ongoing threat to lives and property in Northern California. At 770 feet (235 m), Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States. Located in Butte County about 70 miles (110 km) north of Sacramento, the dam impounds Lake Oroville, and controls the flow of the Feather River.

Storms in early February 2017 caused heavy damage to the dam's spillways, hindering the safe release of floodwater. The prospect of uncontrolled release of water from the lake forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River.

In early February, high inflows to Lake Oroville caused dam operators to start using the concrete main spillway to control the lake level.[6]. While water was being released on February 7, 2017, a crater unexpectedly developed about halfway down the spillway, allowing water to escape the channel and erode the earth beneath.[7] More of the spillway washed away, sending large volumes of water into the earth underneath and alongside the spillway, so engineers closed the main spillway for inspection. During two test flows on February 8–9, the length of the crater increased from 250 ft (76 m) to 300 ft (91 m).[7] Management was then confronted with two choices: continue to use the main spillway, knowing it would likely be further damaged, or allow the reservoir to rise until it overtopped the emergency spillway.[7]

Engineers reopened the main spillway. They had hoped that using the damaged spillway with a limited flow could drain the lake enough to avoid use of the emergency spillway, which would potentially damage power lines servicing the hydroelectric plant.[8] They reduced its discharge from 65,000 cu ft/s (1,800 m3/s) to 55,000 cu ft/s (1,600 m3/s),[9][10] but this flow was not enough to prevent the lake from rising.[9] The rising water eventually crested the weir along the front of the dam, cascading over the weir (as designed, as the last resort) and onto the emergency spillway (below the weir), for the first time since the dam was constructed in 1968.[5]

Shortly after 8:00 am on February 11, 2017, the emergency spillway began carrying water for the first time since the dam's construction in 1968.[12] Because the spillway was a separate structure from the dam, officials stated that there was no danger of the main embankment being breached, and evacuation of Oroville was not considered at that time, as officials stated that there was no threat to public safety. Once the lake rose to the level of the emergency spillway top, an uncontrolled overflow began that topped out at 12,600 cu ft/s (360 m3/s)[13][14], and water flowed directly onto the earthen channel below the concrete crest of the emergency spillway. Erosion of the emergency spillway threatened to undermine and collapse the concrete weir. If the weir collapsed, it would send a 30-foot (9 m) wall of water into the Feather River below and flood communities downstream.[5] Fearing a collapse, officials issued an evacuation order.[5]

The immediate harm from the damage is limited to the area downstream of the breach, eroding the hillside to form a canyon. However, a major danger is that the spillway can erode back up toward the gate due to being undercut by the water falling into the crater. Eventually, this would threaten the spillway gate, in close proximity to the actual abutment of the dam.[9]


Update on Flint, MI Water Problems

By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

2017 will be a year of transition for Flint.

The city pivots from an emergency response to elevated lead levels in drinking water and children’s blood to something more mundane: long-term management of a chronic public health and infrastructure problem.

Flint’s entire system — water mains and lead laterals that connect to homes — needs repair, says Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who helped bring Flint’s dirty water to national attention. The federal government approved in December $US 100 million for lead pipe replacement. City and state officials face difficult choices about how to spend the money for the most public benefit.

“Even if we wave a magic wand and the lead pipes go away, Flint still has an infrastructure crisis,” Edwards told Circle of Blue.

Its population cut in half since the 1960s, Flint continues to see residents flee. With fewer people to pay for maintenance of aging water mains, the city has one of the highest water rates in the nation. Main breaks invite contaminants into the water pipes. Stagnant water in pipes breeds disease, like the Legionnaires outbreak that killed a dozen people in the Flint area starting in 2014. None of those troubles will be fixed just by replacing lead laterals, Edwards says.

Several measures in the last year and a half largely tamed the astronomical levels of lead in household drinking water. Flint reconnected with Detroit’s water system and applied a coat of organophosphates to the insides of water mains to minimize pipe corrosion.

Testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Virginia Tech show that the actions reduced lead concentrations to the point that Flint now meets federal regulations. More than 90 percent of tested homes — the threshold for passing the federal Lead and Copper Rule — are under the 15 parts per billion (ppb) standard. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s most recent sampling results, conducted on November 17, showed only 10 of 149 homes with lead levels above 15 ppb.


California Conservation Policy

Over the past several years, Governor Brown has issued executive orders to help California respond to the drought and begin preparing for a future of more frequent, severe, and longer-lasting droughts. Throughout this process, the Pacific Institute has collaborated with state agencies, water suppliers, and environmental and social justice organizations to advise and inform state policy, turning groundbreaking research into on-the-ground policy change. 


UNESCO International Hydrological Program

Within the framework of monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) will launch its Water Information Network System (WINS) on 31 January 2017 at UNESCO HQ, Paris, France.

The objective of the UNESCO-IHP WINS is to provide UNESCO Member States with an open source, open access web-based platform aiming at becoming a global reference for decision-makers and stakeholders on water related issues at all levels. In particular, WINS will support the design and implementation of operations, management, and decision making for the sound governance of water resources.

UNESCO-IHP WINS consists of three main components providing:

1.     Georeferenced data (GIS) on the state of water resources at global, regional, national and local level, allowing users to visualize and generate maps,

2.     A platform for inter-disciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing among water-related stakeholders (e.g. databases, reports, graphs, tables, videos, webinars etc.), and

          3.      A platform for water-related stakeholders to build social networks and         interrelations (i.e. discussion groups).

WINS was established as a follow up on the Member States request to the IHP Secretariat to “provide support to Member States to build their institutional capacities, human resources and a sound basis in science capacity for the monitoring and implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) and other water related goals”.

For more information related to this initiative, please send an email to

Please find below the links to the Live Stream of the launching event (31 January, 10:00-12:00, Paris time)










EPA Jan. 25 Free Webinar on Ecological Restoration

The Rapid Benefits Indicators (RBI) Approach: A Process for Assessing the Social Benefits of Ecological Restoration

 Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2:00 to 3:00 pm EST

Register online:   

Prioritizing ecological restoration sites based on ecological functioning and expected ecosystem services production alone neglects vital information for evaluating tradeoffs. For example, stakeholders should determine who benefits from the resulting ecosystem services and by how much. The EPA-developed Rapid Benefit Indicators (RBI) approach assesses restoration sites using non-monetary benefit indicators. This approach uses readily-available data to estimate and quantify benefits to people around a restoration site using ecosystem service benefit indicators based on economic principles. The framework uses five questions to guide the process of indicator selection and measurement:

1. Can people benefit from an ecosystem service?

2. How many people benefit?

3. How much are people likely to benefit?

4. What are the social equity implications?

5. How reliable are benefits expected to be over time?

This webinar will present the RBI approach and its application to wetland restoration using Woonasquatucket River Watershed, RI as an example. The presenters will describe the RBI approach, guidebook, companion tools, and companion spreadsheet checklist tool.


Climate Change Information for States

EPA, in collaboration with The Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA), and The Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM), recently updated a webpage showcasing innovative practices that state water agencies are currently performing to reduce their vulnerability and build resilience to climate change. The webpage was recently supplemented with new descriptions of select climate adaptation related practices in diverse programmatic areas and geographic locations across the country. The information presented on these state practices can be a useful resource for other state agencies, as well as local and tribal governments, seeking to engage in climate adaptation efforts within their own water programs.

Providing greater access to information on recent state agency practices can directly help planners and decision makers across the country continue to conduct their work effectively in the context of a variable climate. After identifying a second set of practices, the four project collaborators plan to advance this work through various outreach activities intended to share the information more broadly. They also expect to identify additional practices over time to help sustain the collaboration and sharing of information across state water agencies. 


Year 2016

EPA Methods for Testing Wastewater

EPA has issued a final rule approving additional analytical methods or test procedures to be used to measure pollutants in wastewater. Regulated and regulatory entities use these methods to determine compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits or other Clean Water Act monitoring requirements. Often, these entities have a choice in deciding which approved method they will use to measure a pollutant. EPA periodically updates the list of approved methods to reflect advances in technology, refine quality assurance and quality control requirements, and provide entities more choices of approved compliance monitoring methods. EPA also is clarifying the approval process for alternate test procedures and is making revisions to the method detection limit procedure. 


Forests Provide Clean Water

How do we get the best, cleanest drinking water for everyone? This might seem like a bit of an abstract thought - but it's important to think about in the big picture. Is it watershed full of grass, or trees? What are the benefits to each one? If it is a forest, could we find one species of tree that gave us the best, cleanest drinking water? These are all questions addressed on this video.

This study was done at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  

Here is a better link to what Coweeta does:

Soquel Creek Water District

Water District Explores Groundwater Replenishment Option

The Soquel Creek Water District has announced the formal initiation of the environmental review phase for its Pure Water Soquel project. A groundwater replenishment project involves the treatment of municipal wastewater using advanced purification methods and injection of purified water into groundwater aquifers. This project would help address critical overdraft conditions in the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin, as well as prevent further seawater intrusion. The National Water Research Institutes (NWRI) will administer an independent advisory panel to review the feasibility and risks associated with this project. More information is available at


The Arctic Council at 20

The Arctic Council was created 20 years ago as a consensus-based forum for cooperation, coordination, and interaction between Arctic states and, significantly, with the participation of Arctic Indigenous communities. However, its founding principles alone obscure the complexity of lengthy negotiations that mark the day-to-day operations of the Council. World Policy Institute’s Arctic in Context initiative, directed by Erica Dingman, presents a series of expert assessments of the Arctic Council at this critical juncture.

The Arctic Council has experienced a number of significant successes. It has been responsible for bringing together representatives from the eight Arctic states as well as the northern indigenous peoples to examine and consider issues of mutual concern. It has become successful enough to attract the attention of non-Arctic states such as China and Japan. These non-Arctic states have been persistent in seeking observer status on the Council because they understand its utility and success. There have also been successes in regards to the creation of specific agreements, such as one that deals with search and rescue cooperation in the Arctic. The working groups and task forces that do the real work within the Arctic Council have also produced a series of outstanding reports that have improved our knowledge on key environmental issues pertaining to the Arctic.


Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR)

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting on July 19, 2016 at the Dept. of Energy, National Renewal Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. The theme of the meeting was Energy Issues in the West.

The proceedings from the conference can be found at:


EPA Newsletter on Fish and Shellfish

EPA has published the first edition of its online newsletter providing information on fish and shellfish issues, including human health impacts of eating fish, ecological issues associated with fish, recently published research and other related topics. EPA will publish the newsletter monthly. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to with the following text in the subject line: Subscribe to Fish and Shellfish Program Newsletter.


$2.2 Million in Conservation Grants Announced by Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced at the Urban Waters National Training Workshop that 58 community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects across the nation have been awarded approximately $2.2 million in grants. The grantees have committed an additional $5.2 million in local project support, creating a total conservation investment of more than $7.4 million in projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters. These projects will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in community-based conservation projects.

The list of projects is alphabetical by state.



White House Promotes EPA Innovation Challenges to Reduce Nutrients in Waterways

By Bruce Rodan, Assistant Director for Environmental Health for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, are essential for plant growth and for the production of food and livestock feed.  Too much nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways, however, can cause algal blooms, eutrophication, and hypoxia in lakes, estuaries, and oceans—damaging ecosystems and threatening human health far from the original site of application or deposition. 

Open innovation to reduce nutrients in waterways is among the Administration’s top 100 leadership examples in science, technology, and innovation.  Federal agencies—OSTP, EPA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and NIST—have come together to take action to improve nutrient management and reduce pollution, including by forming the Challenging Nutrients Coalition with engagement from academia and the private sector. One way the Administration has taken action in this area is by calling for challenges and prizes that seek potentially transformative ideas to tackle intractable problems.


National Monitoring Conference

10th National Monitoring Conference, Tampa, Florida, May 2-6, 2016

Over 710 people attended the 10th National Monitoring Conference in Tampa. Featuring over 300 oral presentations, 70 posters, 8 field trips, 20 workshops, short courses, panels, and discussion sessions, the conference was vibrant and packed full of interesting and informative activities. In addition, ample opportunities for attendees, presenters, and exhibitors to network and expand connections brought the week to life for everyone. Interactive demonstrations of a wide range of products and services including data portals, apps, software, and models provided close-up views of the latest developments in the monitoring community. The awards recognized individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to water quality monitoring and water resource protection.


July Report from NOAA

August 8, 2016


The July temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 75.3°F, or 1.6°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 14th warmest on record. The year-to-date (January-July) temperature was 54.3°F, 3.0°F above the 20th century average, making it the third warmest on record. Alaska continued to be record warm for the first seven months of 2016.

The July precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.87 inches, 0.09 inch above the 20th century average, and ranked near the middle value in the 122-year period of record. Record rainfall across western Kentucky caused widespread flooding. Tropical Storm Darby swept across Hawaii in late July causing flooding, but helped to alleviate drought conditions. The year-to-date precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 18.49 inches, 0.40 inch above average, and ranked near the middle value in the 122-year period of record.

This monthly summary from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information  is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.


Arizona Geological Survey

“A new law that consolidates the Arizona Geological Survey within the University of Arizona at Tucson could result in dramatic cuts to state geological services, according to the Survey and some industries that rely on its capabilities. However, Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s office maintains that the cost-cutting action benefits taxpayers while building on synergy between the Survey and the university.

The action, part of broader budget legislation Ducey signed into law in May, calls for the Survey to vacate its current quarters by 30 June and move into space 75% smaller, but the law does not provide funding for the Survey for fiscal year (FY) 2017, which begins on 1 July.

The University of Arizona has agreed to provide the Survey with the equivalent of the Survey’s FY 2016 state appropriation of $941,000 for the upcoming fiscal year, after which the Survey would need to become entirely self-supporting, according to Lee Allison, Arizona state geologist and director of the Survey. Allison serves as a member of the Eos editorial advisory board.

At risk is funding for mapping, hazard monitoring, and other services.

Reduction in Services

Since 2011, the Survey received $5.36 million from the state while entrepreneurially raising an additional $35.8 million through external research grants and contracts, according to a Survey document, which notes that the Survey had 27 employees earlier this year.

Allison applauded the University of Arizona for agreeing to replace state funds for the Survey for the coming year. However, he told Eos that the grant and contract funding that the Survey has raised on its own to support its state services now “will mostly go to the university to support [its] services, resulting in a 40%–50% reduction of those [Survey] functions and the staff that carried them out.” He said that concerns about the Survey’s future have prompted 20% of its staff to take other jobs. Allison also has notified another 25% of staff of pending layoffs.

The uncertainty of having only 1 year of funding “puts the Survey’s medium-term capabilities and functions at risk,” Survey director Lee Allison said.The uncertainty of having only 1 year of assured funding for the remaining staff “puts the Survey’s medium-term capabilities and functions at risk,” he said. As the Survey transitions to a soft money grant-seeking center, Allison said that state service priorities, subsidized through indirect costs from grants and contracts, “could go by the wayside.”

State services at risk include a program to map Earth fissures—giant tension cracks formed by subsiding basins—which developers and local planners depend on; the state’s earthquake-monitoring network; and the Survey’s mineral resources program, according to Allison.


Governor’s Office Defends Action

The consolidation language, which was in the final state budget package approved in May, reflects a strategic way to cut the budget while taking advantage of synergies between the Survey and the university, according to Dan Scarpinato, spokesman for Arizona governor Ducey. He said the consolidation is a cost-efficient “net positive” for the Survey and the clients it assists and for the university.

Experts need to figure out how to combine programs and make the consolidation work “in a way that doesn’t have an impact on the clients themselves or the services that are provided,” according to the governor’s office.“Anytime you change something that’s been operating one way for a very long period of time, there are going be concerns and there are going to be questions,” he said, adding that the state wants to address concerns so that the consolidation works. With the budget approved, experts need to “come to the table and figure out how we combine these programs [and] make the consolidation work in a way that doesn’t have an impact on the clients themselves or the services that are provided.”

University of Arizona spokesman Chris Sigurdson reiterated to Eos what he told the Arizona Daily Star—that the transfer of the Survey to the university “makes scientific sense to us and is in line with our land-grant mission of service.”

Consolidation Could Be “Devastating”

However, Doug Bartlett, president-elect of the Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, said that moving the Survey to the university without a long-term funding mechanism “will be devastating to the Survey.”

He told Eos that the move will result in a loss of primary research, field mapping, monitoring for geological hazards, and detailed geologic mapping useful to Arizona’s minerals industries. “Private industry cannot and will not step in to replace what the Survey does,” he said.

Steve Trussell, executive director of the Phoenix-based Arizona Rock Products Association, said that perhaps the biggest concern about the changes affecting the Survey is what might happen to mapping and other services it provides. He said, for instance, that the Survey’s maps and other programs help the construction, real estate, mining, and natural resources–related industries.”

—Randy Showstack, Staff Writer, EOS



EPA Webpage Features State Practices for Climate Adaptation

EPA's webpage showcases innovative practices by state water agencies to reduce their vulnerability to climate-related impacts and build resilience. The webpage contains short descriptions of select climate adaptation related practices in diverse programmatic areas and geographic locations around the country. These select state practices can be a resource for other state agencies, as well as local and tribal governments, seeking to engage in climate adaptation efforts within their own water programs. An overall goal is to promote a greater understanding of how state agencies are factoring climate variability into their water program operations, as well as the key climate related concerns they are attempting to manage. Providing greater access to information on recent state agency practices can directly help planners and decision makers across the country continue to conduct their work effectively in the context of a changing climate. EPA intends to identify additional best practices over time to help sustain collaboration and sharing of information across state water agencies.


Corps of Engineers Climate Change Activities

Climate change impacts affect water availability, water demand, water quality, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, flood and coastal storm infrastructure, wildland fires, ecosystem functioning, coastal zone functioning, navigation, and energy production and demand. All of these factors affect the water resources projects operated by the Corps and its non-Federal sponsors. Many of these were designed and constructed before climate change was recognized as a potential influence.

The entire portfolio of USACE Civil Works water resources infrastructure and programs, existing and proposed, could be affected by climate change and adaptation to climate change. This affects design and operational assumptions about resource supplies, system demands or performance requirements, and operational constraints. Both droughts and floods can affect the operations of these projects. Numerous regulatory decisions made by USACE will need to be informed by climate change impacts and adaptation considerations throughout the U.S., especially in western states. 

This web site contains links for a number of related Corps activities, like latest news, adaptation, interagency activities, and public tools.


Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

Tom Damm, Communications Coordinator for the Water Protection Division:

With a labyrinth of the most advanced wastewater treatment infrastructure glistening and churning in the background, a cadre of the region’s top environmental officials had an announcement to make this week. Wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed together were effectively meeting their 2025 pollution limits 10 years ahead of schedule.The announcement was made at the giant Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C. – the largest such plant not only in the watershed, but in the world. Among the audience members were employees at the plant in their hardhats and bright green DC Water shirts, who, on behalf of their colleagues around the watershed, earned praise from the podium and applause from the crowd. 

Learn More.


USGS Online Mapper Provides a Decadal Look at Groundwater Quality

Release Date: June 2, 2016

A first of its kind, national assessment of an unseen, valuable resource used by millions of people.

A new online interactive mapping tool provides summaries of decadal-scale changes in groundwater quality across the Nation.

About 140 million people—almost one-half of the Nation’s population—rely on groundwater for drinking water. Tracking changes in groundwater quality and investigating the reasons for these changes is crucial for informing management decisions to protect and sustain our valuable groundwater resources

The mapper shows how concentrations of 24 contaminants, such as nutrients, pesticides, metals, and volatile organic compounds, are changing over decadal periods in 67 groundwater networks across the Nation. Each network consists of about 20 to 30 wells selected to represent water-quality conditions in a given geographical area, aquifer, and in some cases, a specific land use.

Decadal Groundwater-Quality Change Summary:

  • Increases in concentrations of chloride (31*), dissolved solids (25), deethylatrazine (17), nitrate (14), and uranium (8).

  • Decreases in concentrations of fluoride (10), arsenic (8) and prometon (6).

*Note: (31) is the number of groundwater networks where an increase or decrease was observed. The first set of samples was obtained from 1988-2000, and the second set was obtained from the same wells from 2001-2012.

Groundwater quality data were collected in about 5,000 wells between 1988 and 2001 by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Project. About 1,500 of these wells were sampled again between 2002 and 2012 to evaluate decadal changes in groundwater quality.


The mapping tool is one component of the National Water-Quality Assessment Project’s ongoing efforts to assess, understand, and forecast the quality of the Nation’s groundwater.


California Drought Information from Pacific Institute is a project of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, one of the world’s leading independent nonprofits researching and finding solutions to freshwater issues. The website compiles tools, research, and information on the California drought to facilitate the work at every level to understand, plan for, and find sustainable water management solutions in the face of a drier future for the western United States with changing conditions from climate change.


Drinking Water Mapping

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released DWMAPS – the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters. This robust, online mapping tool provides the public, water system operators, state programs, and federal agencies with critical information to help them safeguard the sources of America’s drinking water.

DWMAPS allows users to learn about their watershed and understand more about their water supplier. DWMAPS also lets users see if sources of their drinking water are polluted and if there are possible sources of pollution that could affect their communities’ water supply. DWMAPS can even guide users to ways they can get involved in protecting drinking water sources in their community.

“A key part of having safe drinking water is protecting the sources – the streams, rivers, and lakes where utilities withdraw water,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “DWMAPS is the latest example of how EPA is using technology and digital tools to better protect public health and the environment.

Utilities and state drinking water program managers can also use DWMAPS with their own state and local data. It allows them to identify potential sources of contamination in their locations, find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination and evaluate accidental spills and releases. DWMAPS also integrates drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the federal, state, and local levels.

DWMAPS can provide users with information to update source water assessments and prioritize source water protection in any location or watershed in the country. Specifically, DWMAPS helps users to:

  • Identify potential sources of contamination in locations defined by users;
  • Find data to support source water assessments and plans to manage potential sources of contamination;
  • Evaluate accidental spills and releases, identifying where emergency response resources for accidental releases must be readily available; and
  • Promote integration of drinking water protection activities with other environmental programs at the EPA, state, and local levels.

The mapping system will not display the locations of Public Water System facility intakes, but it does contain a wide variety of data useful to the protection of drinking water sources. EPA developed DWMAPS in consultation with EPA regional drinking water programs, state drinking water regulators, and public water systems.



Adapting to Climate Change

Adaptation is the adjustment that society or ecosystems make to prepare for, or adjust to climate change. Adaptation can include actions by individuals and communities, from a farmer planting more drought-resistant crops to a city ensuring that new coastal infrastructure can accommodate future sea level rise. Many governments and organizations across the United States and the world have already begun taking action to adapt to climate change. Together, adaptation, coupled with actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are essential to limiting the damages from future climate change.


Flint Water Crisis

The Flint water crisis is an ongoing drinking water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In 2014, the City of Flint began the undertaking of a water supply switch-over from reliable supplies from the City of Detroit. Initially, the drawing of water from the Flint River was viewed by the City as a temporary fix prior to the City's ultimate switch to a permanent supply which would be provided after the Karegnondi Water Authority’s construction of a pipeline from Lake Huron, thereby eliminating Flint's long-time dependence on Detroit City water.[1]

After the change in water source, the city's drinking water had a series of issues that culminated with lead contamination, creating a serious public health danger. The corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of lead. As a result, residents had severely high levels of lead in the blood and experienced a range of serious health problems. The water may also be a possible cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the county that has killed 10 people and affected another 77.

On November 13, 2015, four families filed a federal class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit against Governor Rick Snyder and thirteen other city and state officials, and three separate people filed a similar suit in state court two months later. Separately, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the Michigan Attorney General's office opened investigations. On January 5, 2016, the city was declared to be in a state of emergency by the Governor of Michigan, before President Obama declared the crisis as a federal state of emergency, authorizing additional help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security less than two weeks later.

Three government officials—one from the City of Flint and two from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality—resigned over the mishandling of the crisis, and Snyder issued an apology to citizens.


Colorado River Basin Drought

Interior Department Launches New, Interactive Web Tool to Show Effects of 16-Year Drought in the Colorado River Basin

WASHINGTON – On the heels of a White House Roundtable on Water Innovation, the U.S. Department of the Interior today launched a new, interactive website to show the dramatic effects of the 16-year drought in the Colorado River Basin. The specialized web tool, otherwise known as Drought in the Colorado River Basin – Insights Using Open Data shows the interconnected results of a reduced water supply as reservoir levels have declined from nearly full to about 50 percent of capacity.

Launched as part of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to harness resources that help build drought resiliency, this web tool provides a visual depiction of the complexity of the nexus between water supply, water demand, and long-term drought in the Colorado River Basin by connecting data from a variety of sources affiliated with the Open Water Data Initiative, which is led by Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey.

“Innovation is absolutely critical to helping us deal with the severe threats to water supply posed by drought and climate change,” said Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor, who moderated a discussion on innovation and technology at yesterday’s Roundtable. “Projects like this one show the power of open data to help us better understand our resource challenges. By enabling us to see the complex challenges in the Colorado River Basin visually, use of this website will help us devise timely actions to build resilience to the drought, spurring innovation along the way.”

Projections developed by the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency responsible for managing the Colorado River, indicate that if the drought continues, the lower Colorado River Basin (Arizona, Nevada, Southern California) could see its first reductions in water deliveries -- with an 18 percent chance of a shortage of legally mandated water delivery -- as early as 2017. In response, federal agencies are collaborating with stakeholders, states, tribes and local agencies to develop creative strategies to reduce the impacts of drought and increase reservoir storage at Lake Powell and Lake Mead. At the Roundtable, Interior also announced its Natural Resource Investment Center, which will use market-based tools and innovative public-private collaborations to increase investment in water conservation and critical water infrastructure. 

The anticipated outcome of improved access to real-time data is that more people can engage in developing more complex automated data processing tools. A public “marketplace” is also envisioned where innovators inside and outside government can feature open source tools that are based on data liberated through the Open Water Data Initiative.

The Initiative builds on previous data-related efforts, including a 2013 Presidential Executive Order to make government data more open and machine readable, and the 2014 Climate Data Initiative. This multi-year initiative will build upon existing geospatial and observed data and use tools to explore the feasibility and demonstrate the utility of integrating water data. It supports current trends in application of big data while advancing the White House Open Data Policy ( by using recognized standards and web service technologies to spur innovation.

To view the web tool, visit

Year 2015


The most recent meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information was held on Oct. 27-28, 2015 in suburban Washington, DC. This committee is authorized under OMB Memorandum 92-01 and the Federal Advisory Committee Act for the exchange of information on water resources among government and private sector organizations.



Additional links to relevant web-based information are as follows:




As part of the COP21 conference in Paris, there is an initiative which aims to encourage companies to commit to specific action. This web link provides an opportunity for companies and others to make such commitments. As the initiative progresses this seems to offer some hope that action will really take place.

What is the declaration?

The declaration is a call to action and an executive leadership commitment from companies around the world to address urgent sustainable development challenges related to water and climate. We invite companies and business organizations to add their names to the declaration by completing the form on the web site.

Companies signing the declaration:

  1. Call for water to be taken into account at COP21 and in the global climate agenda
  2. Commit to measure and minimize water risks and impacts by working with CDP, the UN Global Compact, WBCSD, and other collaborative initiatives


Ogallala Aquifer

WASHINGTON, November 9, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA will invest about $8 million in the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative in Fiscal Year 2016 to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water annually while strengthening agricultural operations. The eight-state Ogallala Aquifer has suffered in recent years from increased periods of drought and declining water resources.

“USDA’s Ogallala Aquifer Initiative helps landowners build resilience in their farms and ranches and better manage water use in this thirsty region,” said Vilsack. “Since 2011, USDA has invested $74 million in helping more than 1,600 agricultural producers conserve water on 341,000 acres through this initiative.”

The Ogallala Aquifer is the largest aquifer in the U.S. and includes nearly all of Nebraska and large sections of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. It is the primary water source for the High Plains region. Covering nearly 174,000 square miles, it supports the production of nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the U.S. and supplies 30 percent of all water used for irrigation in the U.S.

Water levels in the region are dropping at an unsustainable rate, making targeted conservation even more important. From 2011 to 2013, the aquifer’s overall water level dropped by 36 million acre-feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


Mississippi River Report Card

The America’s Watershed Initiative Mississippi River Health Report Card was disappointing but not unexpected. Like any student who hasn’t been doing their homework, there was a sense of doom at grade time. The Report Card confirmed what we sensed; research and stakeholder input from the basins gave the Mississippi River ‘s overall health a D+ and its infrastructure maintenance an F.

But what now? AWI stressed it will take collaboration throughout the watershed to make improvements. And, it will take a unified vision for the future of America’s great river. Could a National Dialogue - relying on proven collaborative processes and internet-based, simultaneous deliberation – secure the consensus more broadly and quickly? We know key stakeholders are poised to move parts of the report forward. But they will need public awareness and support.

Now is the time to cultivate that awareness and grow that support. A National Dialogue, conducted in representative Basin locations and on-line, can spur that consensus and public awareness. Let’s take advantage of the tools of deliberation and decision-making to boost that Mississippi River grade. As every first-grader knows who’s had a bad grade, the next report card better read “shows improvement” or there will be worse consequences.

“The economic prosperity and quality of life within the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) region depend upon the river’s continuing viability as a rich and diverse ecosystem, a commercial transportation system, a source of water supply, and a recreational resource.” With this statement, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association revealed the findings of a year-long study – matched to one conducted earlier in the Lower Mississippi River – to establish a benchmark of the River’s economic importance.

Findings included:
• UMR corridor generates $253 billion annually
• UMR corridor supports 755,000 jobs
• Manufacturing, tourism and agriculture account for over 93 percent of revenue and 92 percent of total employment
• Tourism and outdoor recreation = approximately 300,000 jobs

More information can be found at


NOAA: Strong El Niño sets the stage for 2015-2016 winter weather

Forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook favoring cooler and wetter weather in Southern Tier states with above-average temperatures most likely in the West and across the Northern Tier. This year's El Niño, among the strongest on record, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.

"A strong El Niño is in place and should exert a strong influence over our weather this winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snow storms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale.”

Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and nor’easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can impact the number of heavy rain storms in the Pacific Northwest.

Precipitation Outlook:

  • Wetter-than-average conditions most likely in the Southern Tier of the United States, from central and southern California, across Texas, to Florida, and up the East Coast to southern New England. Above-average precipitation is also favored in southeastern Alaska. 
  • Drier-than-average conditions most likely for Hawaii, central and western Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, and for areas near the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Temperature Outlook:

  • Above-average temperatures are favored across much of the West and the northern half of the contiguous United States. Temperatures are also favored to be above-average in Alaska and much of Hawaii. Below-average temperatures are most likely in the southern Plains and Southeast.

Drought Outlook:

  • The U.S. Drought Outlook shows some improvement is likely in central and southern California by the end of January, but not drought removal. Additional statewide relief is possible during February and March. Drought removal is likely across large parts of the Southwest, while improvement or removal is also likely in the southern Plains. However, drought is likely to persist in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, with drought development likely in Hawaii, parts of the northern Plains and in the northern Great Lakes region.


Pacific Institute and UN Sustainable Development

UN Sustainable Development Goals Will Bolster Water Stewardship

October 2015

Last month, 150 world leaders gathered at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit to adopt a set of goals and targets called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Consisting of 17 different goals with indicators for measuring the success of each, the SDGs provide a comprehensive framework for collective action by government, the private sector, and civil society to address social and environmental issues that inhibit economic development and shared prosperity.

The SDGs provide a crucial opportunity to tackle some of the most pressing social and environmental issues globally. Within that framework, the Pacific Institute continues to research and provide solutions focused on the human right to water, sustainable water management, and ecosystem health.

For example, SDG6 is dedicated exclusively to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The Pacific Institute, as co-secretariat of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, will play a pivotal role in the implementation of this goal through collective action. As part of this endeavor, the Mandate, in collaboration with WaterAid and WWF, has developed a paper that presents opportunities for the business and corporate sectors to make positive contributions toward achieving the goal. 

This link also includes other news from the Pacific Institute, for example work on the Salton Sea, the California Drought, and other items.


Unprecedented Drought in the West

Drought has left the West parched and thirsty. Families, businesses, and farmers all need water, as do fish, wildlife, and their habitats.  And shortages have dire impacts. Choosing where the water goes – and where it does not – involves complex tradeoffs and hard decisions. Good science is essential for making the best of this bad situation and is the foundation for wise choices.

In June, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor testified before Congress on the state of the Western drought. At that hearing, Connor offered thoughts on how USGS science is informing sound decisionmaking.

“The USGS is an integral part of the Department’s drought response and is providing actionable, science-based information and tools as a participant in the National Drought Resilience Partnership,” said Connor. “During drought, forecasting stream low-flow conditions can be critical for water apportionment and ecosystem protection.”

Such low-flow conditions are monitored by more than 8,000 streamgages nationwide operated by the USGS and its many partners. During high-flow conditions, this network warns communities of flooding. But in the opposite situation, when there is not enough water to go around, those same streamgages provide real-time data to help local and state authorities make critical decisions on the fly.


NOAA Town Hall in Providence, Rhode Island

NOAA invites you to participate in a Town Hall meeting to discuss possible permanent protections for three deep-sea canyons — Oceanographer, Gilbert, and Lydonia Canyons — and four seamounts off of New England's coast. Deep-sea canyons, which plunge to depths greater than 7,000 feet, and sea mounts, which rise thousands of feet above the sea floor, create unique habitats supporting tremendous biodiversity and fragile ecosystems that are home to corals, fish, marine mammals, turtles, and more.

To ensure that we protect these unique places for future generations while recognizing the importance of sustainable ocean-based economies, we are seeking input from all interested parties in the region.

The Town Hall discussion will be held on September 15, at the Providence Marriott Downtown, 1 Orms Street, Providence, Rhode Island. The meeting will be in the Sessions/College/Canal Room from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.         

If you are unable to attend the Town Hall in person, please send comments by September 15, 2015 to

Please feel free to forward this invite to anyone who might also be interested in participating. We look forward to hearing from you.


South Carolina: Enoree River Watershed

Installing Best Management Practices and Educating Stakeholders Improves Water Quality in Watershed

Agricultural practices and failing septic systems contributed high levels of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria to South Carolina’s Enoree River watershed. Data showed that numerous sites in the watershed failed to meet water quality standards. As a result, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) added six sites to the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list (five sites in 1998 and one site in 2002) for FC bacteria impairment. Landowners installed numerous BMPs and replaced failing septic systems. Bacteria levels have dropped at all six sites. Assessments for the 2014 CWA section 303(d) list showed that two of the sites, B-024 and B-231, now meet water quality standards for FC bacteria and fully support their recreational use.


New Online Tool Tracks Water Quality in the Nation’s Rivers and Streams

A new USGS online tool provides graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment levels in rivers and streams across the Nation.

The online tool can be used to compare recent water-quality conditions to long-term conditions (1993-2014), download water-quality datasets (streamflow, concentrations, and loads), and evaluate nutrient loading to coastal areas and large tributaries throughout the Mississippi River Basin.

Graphical summaries of nutrients and sediment are available for 106 river and stream sites monitored as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Network for Rivers and Streams.

This tool was developed by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program, which conducts regional and national assessments of the nation’s water quality to provide an understanding of water-quality conditions, whether conditions are getting better or worse over time, and how natural processes and human activities affect those conditions.


WaterSense Launches When In Drought Campaign

WaterSense, an EPA partnership program that offers people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes and services, has launched its When In Drought campaign. This campaign will amplify drought messaging in western states, and will create awareness that summer time is the most critical time to save on watering. For example, in California, utilities are concerned about meeting Governor Brown’s mandated cuts if summer water usage does not decrease. When In Drought campaign materials include an animated video featuring WaterSense spokesgallon Flo and her dog. The video describes actions (plant the right plants, take a sprinkler break, switch to WaterSense products, etc.) everyone can take to save water. To coincide with this campaign WaterSense is hosting a #WaterSavingYard Photo Challenge on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to showcase how beautiful drought-tolerant landscapes can be.


Louisiana:  Bayou Nezpique

Federal and State Agencies Rally Together to Reduce Total Dissolved Solids Concentrations in Bayou 

Sediment and nutrient runoff from agricultural fields degraded water quality in Louisiana's Bayou Nezpique River. As a result, Louisiana added total dissolved solids as a cause of impairment for Bayou Nezpique River on its 2008 Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of impaired waters. Beginning in 2009, agricultural best management practices were installed in the Bayou Nezpique subsegment. These efforts decreased the sediment and nutrient loads entering the bayou, and resulted in the delisting of total dissolved solids as a cause of impairment in the Bayou Nezpique subsegment in 2010.


Argonne National Laboratory WATER Model

Developed by Argonne National Laboratory, WATER calculates spatial-explicit water footprint of biofuels produced from conventional (corn grain, soybean) and cellulosic biomass feedstock (corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass, miscanthus, forest wood residue) via various conversion processes (fermentation, transesterification, gasification, pyrolysis) at county, state, and region level for the U.S.  The tool provides assessment for corn grain ethanol and soybean biodiesel based on historical data. It also estimates water use for cellulosic biofuels using projected future scenarios (e.g. Billion-ton report, DOE 2011). Output from the tool includes green, blue, and grey water use per unit of biofuel produced for a defined feedstock and production pathway at selected location, which allows users to analyze and compare various choices in project planning for informed decision making. The major feature of this version is a newly added forest resource based biofuel pathway with thirteen feedstock combination scenarios and two conversion pathways. The work is supported by Department of Energy, EERE Office, Bioenergy Technologies Office.


Meeting of Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR)

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting on March 31, 2015 at the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, DC. The theme of the conference was Collaboration and Resilience.

The links to the conference documents are as follows:




Drought Declared in Washington

by Kelly Mistry

Governor Inslee’s recent declaration of drought in 24 of Washington’s 62 watersheds has triggered a flurry of activity.   By law, drought is declared when a region’s water supply is at 75% of normal (or worse) and this water deficit will cause “hardship” to water uses and users.

Washington has experienced a fairly normal year for rain, but air temperatures over the winter were nearly 5 degrees F higher than normal, making the 2014-15 winter the warmest on record.  As a result, snow fall was scant.  Mountain snowpack is like a natural reservoir.  As accumulated snow melts over the summer, it percolates into groundwater and feeds the headwaters of streams.   Water will flow in streams during summer months, even with no rain, as a result of snowpack and groundwater reserves.  This year, snowpack is substantially less than normal for the Olympic, Cascade and Northern Rockies mountains, and as a consequence, we are facing a very dry summer season in Washington.



Satellite Data and Algal Blooms


Four federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey have joined forces in an effort to transform satellite data into vital information to protect the American public from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms. 

The $3.6 million research project is a collaborative effort among NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and USGS. Using methods and technology established to analyze ocean color satellite data, scientists from the four agencies will work to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and build an information distribution system to expedite public health advisories. 

Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and noxious taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie

“Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “USGS uses converging lines of evidence from ground to space to assess changes in water quantity and quality, ecosystems, natural hazards, and environmental health issues important to the nation.” 

Ocean color satellite data are currently available to scientists, but are not routinely processed and produced in formats that help state and local environmental and water quality managers. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms developed by the partner agencies will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals. 

“The vantage point of space not only contributes to a better understanding of our home planet, it helps improve lives around the world,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We’re excited to be putting NASA’s expertise in space and scientific exploration to work protecting public health and safety.”

The new network builds on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study the global ocean’s microscopic algal communities, which play a major role in ocean ecology, the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean, and climate change. These sensors detect the color of the sunlit upper layer of the ocean and are used to create indicators that can help identify harmful algal blooms. 

NOAA and NASA pioneered the use of satellite data to monitor and forecast harmful algal blooms. Satellites allow for more frequent observations over broader areas than water sampling. Satellite data support NOAA’s existing forecasting systems in the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes. 

“Observing harmful algae is critical to understanding, managing, and forecasting these blooms. This collaboration will assure that NOAA’s efforts will assist the coastal and inland public health officials and managers across the country to distribute this information to the community in an easily understandable fashion,” said Holly Bamford, acting NOAA Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management and Deputy Administrator in Washington. 

Under certain environmental conditions, algae naturally present in marine and fresh waters rapidly multiply to create a bloom. Some species of algae called cyanobacteria produce toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater or by the consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish. Cyanobacteria blooms are a particular concern because of their dense biomass, toxins, taste, and odor. 

“EPA researchers are developing important scientific tools to help local communities respond quickly and efficiently to real-time water quality issues and protect drinking water for their residents,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Working with other federal agencies, we are leveraging our scientific expertise, technology and data to create a mobile app to help water quality managers make important decisions to reduce negative impacts related to harmful algal blooms, which have been increasingly affecting our water bodies due to climate change.” 

The project also includes a research component to improve understanding of the environmental causes and health impacts of cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms across the United States. Blooms in lakes and estuaries are produced when aquatic plants receive excess nutrients under suitable environmental conditions. Various land uses, such as urbanization and agricultural practices, change the amount of nutrients and sediment delivered in watersheds, which can influence cyanobacterial growth. 

Researchers will compare the new freshwater algal blooms data with satellite records of land cover changes over time to identify specific land-use activities that may have caused environmental changes linked to the frequency and intensity of blooms. The results will help to develop better forecasts of bloom events. 

“Algal blooms pose an expensive, unpredictable public health threat that can affect millions of people,” said Sarah Ryker, USGS Deputy Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change. “By using satellite-based science instruments to assess conditions in water and on adjacent land, we hope to improve detection of these blooms and to better understand the conditions under which they occur.”  

The Landsat satellite series, a joint effort of USGS and NASA, has provided a continuous dataset of land use and land cover conditions since 1972. The latest satellite, Landsat 8, has demonstrated promising new capabilities for water quality assessment.

Water Wars? 

What Seven Water Experts Said About Water Wars: Web Site

In 2007 an 18-month study of Sudan by the UN Environment Program concluded that the conflict in Darfur had its roots in climate change and water shortages. According to the report, disappearing pasture and evaporating water holes—rainfall is down 30 percent over 40 years in some parts of the Sahel—had sparked dispute between herders and farmers and threatened to trigger a succession of new wars across Africa.

Months later, the British nonprofit International Alert released a study identifying 46 countries—home to 2.7 billion people—where water and climate stresses could ignite violent conflict by 2025, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to say, “The consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict.”

Those remarks came just as David Zhang of Hong Kong University published a study linking water shortages to violence throughout history. Analyzing half a millennium’s worth of human conflict—more than 8,000 wars—Zhang concluded that climate change and resulting water shortages had been a far greater trigger than previously imagined. “We are on alert, because this gives us the indication that resource shortage is the main cause of war,” Zhang told the London Times.

Now, in UNESCO’s third major World Water Development Report, released in March at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, the threat is again plainly stated: “As climate change and adverse water impacts increase in politically charged areas, conflicts will likely intensify, requiring new and rapid adaptive security strategies.”

Not everyone, however, is convinced that “water wars” are all they’re chalked up to be. In a March 19 essay in Nature, Wendy Barnaby contends, “Countries do not go to war over water, they solve their water shortages through trade and international agreements.” 

The issue of “water wars”? Are they an imminent threat or, as Barnaby suggests, a fabrication unsupported by the facts and perpetuated by the media?


Sustainable Waters Web Site

Sustainable Waters provides a global water education service by sharing accurate and up-to-date information about water scarcity, news of water shortages, and information and tools for solving water problems. The web site shows maps that illustrate worldwide locations for water problems and where innovative solutions have been implemented. Other contents include publications, film projects, educational resources, blogs, upcoming events, and how the individual can take action.


First Friday All Climate Change Talks (FFACCTs)

The Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center hosts First Friday All Climate Change Talks (FFACCTs), monthly information sharing forums featuring presentations about research activities focused on climate change impacts to eastern forest ecosystems. Scientists from the USDA Forest Service Northern and Southern Research Stations participate in the 1 1/2 hour web-based meeting on the first Friday of every month. While these calls are research focused, participants internal and external to the Forest Service are encouraged to join the discussion.

View the FFACCTs flyer for details. For additional information or to be added to the FFACCTs mailing list, please contact Stephanie Worley Firley at or (828) 257-4380.


Year 2014

Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable

AGENDA November 20, 2014

NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field,

A State of Drought:

California Surface and Groundwater Sustainability Assessments

8:30 a.m. Registration and Coffee

9:00 a.m. Welcome Remarks: Bob Wilkinson SWRR Co chair & Marianna Grossman SSV Director

9:05 a.m. Welcome Remarks: Steve Hipskind, Chief, Earth Science Division, NASA Ames Research Center

9:10 a.m. Welcome Remarks: Mariana Grossman, Executive Director, Sustainable Silicon Valley.

9:15 a.m. Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Activities & History: John Wells Co-chair

9:30 a.m. Round of BRIEF Self-Introductions: interest in sustainability and water, David Berry


10:10 a.m. Break


10:30 a.m. California Sustainability Assessment (Moderators Abdul Khan and Rich Juricich, DWR)

An Update on US-EPA Sustainability Effort: Alan Hecht, Ph.D., Director for Sustainable Development in the Office of Research and Development (ORD), U.S. EPA

California Sustainability Assessment Project - Ecological Footprint, Plant Growth Index, GRACE Groundwater Assessment, and Water Footprint: Vance Fong, P.E., Manager, Environmental Indicator Program, Exchange Network Coordinator, Field Operations Lead, U.S. EPA Region 9, San Francisco, California ( and Don Hodge, Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) Coordinator, Drinking Water Office, U.S. EPA Region 9, San Francisco, California (

California Water Sustainability Indicators Framework, Statewide and Regional Assessments: Fraser Shilling, Ph.D., Researcher, Department of Environmental Science & Policy, University of California, Davis (

California’s Water Footprint and Trends: Heather Cooley, Water Program Director, Pacific Institute, Oakland ( and Julian Fulton, Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley (

California Biodiversity Council Collaborative Project on California Indicators and California Forest and Range Assessment: Chris Keithley, Ph.D., Fire and Resource Assessment Program, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Sacramento, California (  


12:00 p.m. Lunch Speaker, Groundwater in California, Carl Hauge, DWR Chief Hydrogeologist, (retired)

1:05 p.m. Groundwater Measurement and Management (Moderator Rhonda Kranz, Kranz Consulting)

Groundwater from Space: GRACE, Jay Famiglietti, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, California Institute of Technology, and UC Irvine

California’s Groundwater and the Impact of Drought: Dane Mathis, Senior Engineering Geologist, Division of Integrated Regional Water Management, South Central Region Office, Department of Water Resources (  

Assessment of Recent Land Subsidence in California: Claudia Faunt, Ph.D., P.E., Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, California Water Science Center, San Diego Projects Office, CA (  


2:30 p.m. Break


2:45 p.m. Snowpack and Water Supplies for California, Thomas H. Painter, PhD, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,

NASA, California Institute of Technology, and Frank Gehrke, Chief of Snow Surveys, DWR

Mokelumne Watershed Avoided Costs Project, Kim Carr, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Chris Nota, U.S. Forest Service

A hot topic in forest management today is linking costs for maintaining healthy forests to avoid costs of future fires and damage to water infrastructure. The report on the Mokelumne River can be found at:  


Remote Sensing of California Agriculture for Drought Impact Assessment and Mitigation

Forrest Melton, Senior Research Scientist NASA Ames Research Center - Cooperative for Research in Earth Science & Technology (ARC-CREST) & California State University, Monterey Bay

4:15 p.m. Keynote Talk: Green Proving Ground (GPG) Initiatives and Emerging Technologies,

Ruth Cox, Pacific Rim Regional Administrator, GSA

5:15 p.m. Closing Comments and Adjourn


New Climate Resilience Toolkit Helps Communities Prepare for a Changing World

The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is a website ( developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other Federal agencies to enable decision-makers to take action to boost their climate resilience using data-driven tools, information, and subject-matter expertise to make smarter decisions.  The Toolkit offers information from across the federal government in one easy-to-use location so that Americans are better able to understand the climate-related risks and opportunities impacting their communities and take steps to improve their resilience. 

The Toolkit will evolve in phases over the coming months to address issues that impact a variety of sectors in communities across the county.  The first phase of the Toolkit, rolled out recently, initially focuses on the topics of coastal flood risk and food resilience.  In the coming months, it will be updated to address additional areas such as water, ecosystems, transportation and health.  The Toolkit’s collection and functions will connect citizens to the vast open federal data now available through the Climate Data Initiative, as well as relevant information from the National Climate Assessment and other sources of best-available science.  The site is designed to serve interested citizens, communities, businesses, resource managers, planners, and policy leaders at all levels of government.   

Some features of the Toolkit include:

  • The Climate Explorer: A visualization tool that offers maps of climate stressors and impacts, as well as interactive graphs showing daily observations and long-term averages from thousands of weather stations across the Nation.
  • Steps to Resilience: A five-step process that users can follow to initiate, plan, and implement projects to help make their homes, communities, and infrastructure more resilient to climate-related hazards.
  • “Taking Action” Stories: More than 20 real-world case studies describing climate-related risks and opportunities that communities and businesses face, steps they’re taking to plan and respond, and tools and techniques they’re using to improve resilience.
  • Federal Resource Database: The Toolkit provides centralized access to federal sites for future climate projections, as well as freely available tools for accessing and analyzing climate data, generating visualizations, exploring climate projections, estimating hazards, and engaging stakeholders in resilience-building efforts.

For more information:

2013 California Water Plan

The California Water Plan Team is excited to announce the formal release of the final Update 2013 California Water Plan.  This Water Plan is the result of over 4 years of hard work and determination of all participants through extensive collaboration, coordination, technical analysis, and information synthesis. You may download that document here:

Update 2013 is designed to work in tandem, and help implement, the Governor’s Water Action Plan. The online release includes the Highlights booklet which outlines California’s strategic water roadmap.

A special edition of the California Water Plan eNews has also just been published that includes details about the release and links to the following:

· The Strategic Plan (Volume 1), regional reports (Volume 2), and more than 30 resource management strategies (Volume 3).

· DWR news release.

· Message from Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird.

· Message from DWR Director Mark Cowin.

· A navigation guide to help access the many sections of the plan.

· An email link to order the Update 2013 Highlights booklet.

If you are not already a subscriber the link is here:


Advisory Committee on Water Information - ACWI 2014 Annual Meeting


August 19-20, 2014


Get Adobe ReaderDownload the latest version of Adobe Reader or Latest Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer

Briefings from ACWI SubCommittees

water dropSubcommittee on Hydrology (SOH): Robert Mason, USGS; Victor Hom, NOAA; Tom Nickelson, NRC; Will Thomas, ASFPM (PDF 524 KB)

    • Hydrologic Frequency Analysis Workgroup: Bulletin 17C
    • Extreme Storms Workgroup
    • Satellite Telemetry Interagency Work Group
    • Hydrologic Modeling Work Group

water dropOpen Water Data Initiative: Nate Booth, USGS;Kevin Gallagher, USGS (PDF 20, 429 KB)

water dropWorkgroup on the Challenges of Monitoring in a Shrinking Budget Environment: Peter Evans, ICWP; John Wells, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board; Wendy Norton, USGS

water dropACWI Climate Group: Jerad Bales, USGS; and Paul Freedman, Water Enviroment Federation (PDF 806 KB)

water dropSubcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW): Robert Schreiber, CDM Smith, Inc.; Bill Cunningham, USGS; Jessica Lucido, USGS; Chuck Job, EPA (PDF 12,305 KB)

    • Status Report on the National Groundwater Monitoring Network
      • Brief summary of past accomplishments
      • Summary of progress and products since last ACWI meeting
      • EPA Regional Laboratories and new water-quality pilot sites (Mike Wireman, EPA; State agency representative, TBA)
      • Implementation plans
      • Request for ACWI to approved updated Terms of Reference for SOGW

water dropSubcommittee on Sedimentation (SOS): Meg Jonas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (PDF 471 KB)

water dropSubcommittee on Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR): John Wells, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (PDF 1,438 KB)

water dropNational Water Quality Monitoring Council (NQWMC): Gary Rowe (PDF 2,589 KB)


Special Reports

water dropReport from the Interstate Control on Water Policy: Sue Lowry (PDF 287 KB)

Other Items of Interest

water dropDemonstration of Water Quality Portal: Charles Kovatch, EPA and James Kreft, USGS; Laura DeCisco, USGS (PDF 741 KB)

water dropACWI 2014 Meeting Web Highlights (PDF 531 KB)

water dropDownload PDF Adobe Acrobat Reader latest version and Download Microsoft version 2010 PPT Presentations.



Public Comment Period extended to November 14 for Clean Water Proposal

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have always maintained that having the latest peer-reviewed science is an essential part of determining jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will soon complete its peer review of the report on the connectivity of streams and wetlands. To provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the SAB review and in response to requests for additional time to comment on our proposal to protect our nation’s water resources, the agencies are extending the public comment period to Friday, November 14, 2014.

The agencies are continuing to meet with stakeholders during the comment period to explain the proposal, answer questions, and hold discussions (Read more about outreach). The proposal will clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. EPA will not finalize the rule until it has fully reviewed the SAB peer review comments and finalized the scientific connectivity report.

Submitting comments on the proposed rule, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880, can be done by one of the following methods:

  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Send the original and three copies of comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: Deliver comments to EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880. Such deliveries are accepted only during the Docket’s normal hours of operation, which are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The telephone number for the Water Docket is 202-566-2426. 

Information about the proposed rule can be found at

Ken J. Kopocis

Deputy Assistant Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water


FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Both the fact sheet and the full plan are available at the above site.

Here is a summary of the plan elements:

  • Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants;
  • Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;
  • Directs DOI to permit enough renewables project—like wind and solar – on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations;
  • Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020;
  • Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings;
  • Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to save families money at the pump and further reduce reliance on foreign oil and fuel consumption post-2018; and
  • Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.
  • Directs agencies to support local climate-resilient investment by removing barriers or counterproductive policies and modernizing programs; and establishes a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the Federal government can take to help strengthen communities on the ground;
  • Pilots innovative strategies in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts; and building on a new, consistent flood risk reduction standard established for the Sandy-affected region, agencies will update flood-risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects;
  • Launches an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals in the face of climate change through a public-private partnership with the healthcare industry;
  • Maintains agricultural productivity by delivering tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and landowners; and helps communities prepare for drought and wildfire by launching a National Drought Resilience Partnership and by expanding and prioritizing forest- and rangeland- restoration efforts to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire;
  • Provides climate preparedness tools and information needed by state, local, and private-sector leaders through a centralized “toolkit” and a new Climate Data Initiative.
  • Commits to expand major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries;
  • Leads global sector public financing towards cleaner energy by calling for the end of U.S. government support for public financing of new coal-fired powers plants overseas, except for the most efficient coal technology available in the world's poorest countries, or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies; and
  • Strengthens global resilience to climate change by expanding government and local community planning and response capacities.


Proposed Rule in Federal Register on Clean Water Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today (March 25, 2014) jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule.

Determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity.

The proposed rule clarifies protection for streams and wetlands. The proposed definitions of waters will apply to all Clean Water Act programs. It does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

This proposed rule on Waters of the U.S. was published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 21, 2014:

This formally opens the 91-day public comment period, which will close on Monday, July 21, 2014.  Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 by one of the following methods:

  • Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: Include EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Send the original and three copies of your comments to: Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: Deliver your comments to EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880. Such deliveries are accepted only during the Docket's normal hours of operation, which are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The telephone number for the Water Docket is 202-566-2426.


WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Reclamation has released a WaterSMART Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Study Funding Opportunity Announcement for non-federal government entities, Indian tribes, water districts, wastewater districts or rural water districts in the 17 western states.

Funding is available for two funding groups. Entities may submit applications for funding in amounts up to $150,000 for feasibility studies that can be completed within 18 months or up to $450,000 for feasibility studies that can be completed within 36 months. Applicants must provide at least 50 percent non-federal cost-shared funding for the feasibility study. A total of about $1.5 million is expected to be available this year.

This announcement is available at by searching for funding opportunity number R14AS00030. Proposals must be submitted as indicated on by May 6, 2014, 4:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. It is anticipated that awards will be announced this summer.

The Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program focuses on identifying and investigating opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewater and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western States and Hawaii. It has the potential to provide communities with a new source of clean water while promoting water and energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.

Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $161 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program.

To learn more about WaterSMART, please visit


Year 2013

On Nov. 20-21, 2013 the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) held a meeting in Arlington, VA. The agenda of the meeting follows:




Challenging Times as the Source of Innovation

Draft Agenda

Day 1 Wednesday, November 20, 2013                      

8:30 a.m.   Registration and Coffee

9:00 a.m.   Welcome Remarks from SWRR: SWRR Co-chairs, David Berry, SWRR facilitator

9:20 a.m.   Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Activities & History: John Wells Co-chair

 9:40 a.m.  Round of BRIEF Self-Introductions: interest in sustainability and water, David Berry

10:40 a.m.       Break

11:00 a.m.   Highlights of Previous Meeting in Florida: Stan Bronson, Florida Earth Foundation

                    Questions and Discuss

11:30 a.m.   Soft Water Paths: David Brooks   Questions and discussion                           

12:15 p.m.   Lunch 

1:30 p.m.      Panel on Measures of Water Sustainability

Update on Water Census, Eric Evenson, USGS,

        Indicators & Water Footprint in the California Water Plan,

         Rich Juricich, CA Dept. Water Resources,

EPA Indicators of Sustainable Development: water examples.

Questions and Discussion

2:50 p.m. Break

3:10 p.m. Presentation on Alliance for Water Stewardship - Lessons from the Field: Lisa Downes, TNC, Nicole Tanner WWF. Public comments and field trials have shaped development of the International Water Stewardship Standard.  Key challenges and opportunities from field work.

3:35 p.m.  Feedback to AWS.  Comments on potential solutions to challenges identified in the field.

4:15     Summary discussion for the day

4:30           Adjourn and reception and dinner for out-of-towners and others interested


Day 2 Thursday, November 21, 2013

8:30 a.m.         Coffee                                                                                                                  

9:00 a.m.         Welcome, Recap and review of goals for the day

9:10 a.m.         Panel on Sustainability Initiatives:

Application of the Alliance for Water Sustainability Standard to Great Lakes Industries

Dale Phenecie, Council of Great Lakes Industries

Update from American Water Resources Association: w/ Carol Collier, President

OSTP/EPA Initiative on Nutrients in Water: Denice Shaw, EPA or USDA Speaker

         ACWI Climate Adaptation Workgroup: Jeff Peterson, EPA

 National Research Council Water Science & Technology Board - An Overview: Jeff Jacobs

             Initiatves supported by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Ada Benavides.              


10:15 a.m.       Break

10:35 a.m.       New England Water Issues (Where the next SWRR meeting will be)

Paul Susca, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, 

11:10 a.m.       Summary Discussion

12:00 p.m.       Box Lunch

1:30 p.m.         Field trip of Blue Plains Waste Water Treatment Plant organized by DC Water  For security reasons, we need to submit names of participants a few days in advance.  A bus will be provided to pick us up at Top of the Town.



Web Site: Florida Earth Foundation, 2013,

History of Florida Earth Foundation

In March of 1999, Stan Bronson was hired by the University of Florida (UF) to develop an outreach program on Everglades Restoration.  Working with the Palm Beach County Extension Service in West Palm Beach, a graduate level course called the Florida Earth Project was developed. The first class of ten students was held in the summer of 1999.  The initial class was three weeks long, constantly moving from one location to another, beginning at the Kissimmee River and ending up at the Florida Bay.  It became evident that this type of program could be useful in both the general public genre and also as a purely academic experience. 

After the module format for FEP was developed in January of 2000, the academic function of FEP was moved to UF's Soil and Water Science Department. Bronson partnered with Dr. John White in developing the curriculum, which became a one-week lecture series, followed by a one-week field trip.  SOS 6935 grew rapidly until in its last year it had twice as many applicants as student positions.  In 2006 it merged with the National Science Foundation's IGERT program at UF and now includes not only the Everglades but the Okavango Delta in Botswana, the Pantanal in Brazil, and the Kakatu Swamp in Australia.

As with all University of Florida programs, FEP had an advisory council.  In late 2002, the council decided that expansion of the program was desirable. It was determined the road to expansion was by becoming independent of the University so that other academic institution partners could be added.  Florida Earth Foundation was chartered to provide flexibility for programs and the FEP Advisory Council became the first Florida Earth Foundation Board of Directors.  In February 2004 FEF became independent of UF and took the form it is today, with Bronson becoming Executive Director.  As a founding agency, South Florida Water Management District provided office space and administrative support for the Foundation through the leadership of Henry Dean, SFWMD's Executive Director at the time.  In April of 2004, Florida Earth hired Lenelle Crowell as Administrative Assistant.

During the same timeframe, Dr. Richard Meganck, Director of UNESCO-IHE and Dr. Garth Redfield, SFWMD Staff were searching for the organization appropriate to establish a UNESCO-IHE program in Florida. The obvious answer being the Florida Earth Foundation. Since its inception in 2005, we have been privileged to be associated with over 100 students from 30 countries around the world. 


Water Assessment for Transportation Energy Resources (WATER) - Water Footprint Tool released

Argonne National Laboratory released an open access online tool WATER on May 8, 2013. WATER quantifies water footprint of fuel production stages from feedstock production to conversion process for biofuel with county, state, and regional level spatial resolution. It provides analysis on water consumption and its impact on water quality.

The tool currently contains biofuel pathways of corn grain ethanol, soybean biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol produced from corn stover and wheat straw. Perennial grass (Switchrgass and Miscanthus)- and forest wood residue-based biofuel pathways are currently under development.

The tool allows conducting pathway comparison, scenario development, and regional specific feedstock analysis in supporting of biofuel industry development and planning.

For more information, contact May Wu at


National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Workshop on the Energy-Water Nexus

On June 10-11, 2013 this workshop was held at National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The workshop included four major topics, with parallel breakouts and two opening talks. The presentations and full agenda can be found at:

Day 1 

Keynote: Federal contributions to problem-solving at the energy-water nexus. Holmes Hummel.

Overview of the Energy-Water Nexus. Michael Webber. 

Session I: Water for the Power Sector

Water Use and Consumption in Electric Power Generation Approaches. Mike Hightower. 

Water and the Electric Power Sector. Bob Goldstein.

Session II: Water for Fuels Production 

Water for Biofuels: Implications for Energy, Food, and Environment. Ximing Cai.

Energy and Water: Roland Moreau. 

Day 2

Session III: Energy for Water 

Water and Energy: The Case for Distributed Water Treatment and Desalination Systems. Yoram Cohen.

Developing Sustainable Energy Solutions in the Water Industry. Ralph Eberts. 

Session IV: Reporting Back and Social, Behavioral,  Policy, and Communication Issues

Outreach and Engagement: The Importance of Communication in Maximizing Water-Energy Research Investments. Lorraine White. 

Professional Society Support of Energy Water Nexus: Discussion of Models for Leverage and Cooperation. Darlene Schuster.


The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting on March 6-7, 2013 at Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla Springs, Florida. The content of the meeting was as follows



Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Activities and History - John Wells, Co-Chair (PDF 2,528 KB)

Sustaining the Floridan Aquifer - Dr. Todd Kincaid, PH.D., member, Board of Directors, Wakulla Springs Alliance (PDF 6,182 KB)

Wakulla Springs: Natural Gem - Troubled Waters - Jim Stevenson, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Retired) (PDF 4,161 KB)

Potential Effects of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise on Florida's Rivers and Springs:From the Coastlands to the Headwaters - Whitney Gray, Florida Sea Grant and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (PDF 3,067 KB)

South Florida Everglades:Ecosystem Restoration Program - Eric Bush, Chief of Planning USACE Jacksonville District (PDF 4,860 KB)

Everglades Restoration Progress and Opportunities- Ernie Barnett, Director of Everglades Policy (PDF 1,398 KB)

1000 Friends of Florida - Dan Pennington (PDF 1,043 KB)

Agriculture: Best Management Practices - Darrell Smith, Florida Office of Agricultural Water Policy (PDF 6,368 KB)

Northwest Florida Water Management District: Consumptive Use Permitting in Florida - Angela Challetta North West Florida Water Management District (PDF 541 KB)


Year 2012


On July 10-11, 2012 the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) held a meeting in the Washington metro region to hear reports from its subcommittees on progress during the last year. This meeting was held under authority of OMB M-92-01 and the Federal Advisory Committee Act. More information about ACWI can be found at



Final minutes from the July 10-11 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information are now online:

Advisory Committee on Water Information — July 10-11, 2012

Location:  Hilton Washington Dulles Airport

13869 Park Center Road, Herndon, Virginia

Tuesday, July 10

9:00      Welcome and opening remarks – William Werkheiser, USGS Associate Director for Water, ACWI Alternate Chair (15 minutes)

9:15      Update from National Water Quality Monitoring Council – Mike Yurewicz, USGS; Susan Holdsworth, EPA; Bernice Smith, EPA; Dan Sullivan, USGS (60 minutes)

·        Report on the 2012 National Monitoring Conference

·        Update from the Water Information Strategies workgroup

·        Communication and Outreach workgroup activities

·        National Network of Water Quality Reference Sites

·        USGS/EPA Water Quality Portal

·        National Monitoring Network / Coastal Water Quality

·        Methods and Data Comparability Board / National Environmental Methods Index / Sensors

10:15    Break (15 minutes)

10:30    Continued Update from National Water Quality Monitoring Council – Mike Yurewicz, USGS; Susan Holdsworth, EPA; Bernice Smith, EPA; Dan Sullivan, USGS (30 minutes)

11:00    Remarks by Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, ACWI Chair (30 minutes)

11:30    Update on Formation of an ACWI Climate Group – Jerad Bales, USGS (30 minutes)

12:00    Lunch on your own (75 minutes)

1:15      Report from the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable – John Wells, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (30 minutes)

1:45      Break (15 minutes)

2:00      NWIS Web Demonstration – Gary Fisher, USGS (45 minutes)

2:45      WaterSMART Update – Eric Evenson, USGS (15 minutes)

3:00      Roundtable Discussion – Outlook for member agency budgets; further discussion of Climate Workgroup (if necessary); other concerns (45 minutes)

3:45      General Discussion and Wrap-up (30 minutes)

4:15      Adjourn

Advisory Committee on Water Information — July 10-11, 2012

Wednesday, July 11

9:00      Opening remarks and recap from previous day (15 minutes)

9:15      Update from Subcommittee on Ground Water – Robert Schreiber, CDM Smith, Inc.; Bill Cunningham, USGS; Mike Wireman, EPA (45 minutes)

·        Status Report on the National Groundwater Monitoring Network

·        Framework, version 2

·        Network additions, Network portal improvements

·        Vote on 2011 Resolution

10:00    Break (15 minutes)

10:15    Update from Subcommittee on Ground Water, Continued (30 minutes)

10:45    Report from the Subcommittee on Hydrology – Richard Raione, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Victor Hom, NOAA (90 minutes)

·        Hydrologic Frequency Analysis Workgroup – Will Thomas, Michael Baker Corporation

·        Extreme Storms Workgroup – Tom Nicholson, Nuclear Regulatory Commission

·        Hydrologic and Hydraulics GIS Applications Work Group – William Merkel, Natural Resources Conservation Service

·        Satellite Telemetry Interagency Work Group – Bonnie Wyatt and Linnea Keating, USFS

·        Hydrologic Modeling Work Group – Chandra Pathak, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

12:15    Report from the National Water-Quality Assessment Liaison Committee – Mike Yurewicz, USGS (30 minutes)

12:45    Lunch on your own (60 minutes)

1:45      Statistical NEMI demonstration – Doug McLaughlin, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (30 minutes)

2:15      Envision™ a tool for evaluating the benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects, with an eye toward sustainability – William (Bill) Bertera, Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (30 minutes)

2:45      Break (15 minutes)

3:00      Report from the Subcommittee on Sedimentation – Marie Garsjo, NRCS (retired) (45 minutes)

3:45      Public Comment Period (30 minutes)

4:15      Review of Action Items, Wrap-up (15 minutes)

4:30      Adjourn



This agenda is draft, and it will certainly change (probably several times).  Each new version will be posted on the ACWI website’s registration page for the meeting:

For those who are unable to attend in person, the meeting will also be accessible via telephone and WebEx:

Teleconference: To access the Audio Bridge, each participating location must call the dial-in number:

1.  4848 (USGS participants in the National Center)

2.  703-648-4848 (participants at USGS locations)

3.  855-547-8255 (toll-free number for participants at non USGS locations)

Conference Security Code 31578#


WebEx Topic: (18) Advisory Committee on Water Information

Date: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, and Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time: 9:00 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)

Meeting number: 711 774 099

Meeting password: (This meeting does not require a password.)

When it is time to attend the meeting, please visit this link:

No login account is required to use WebEx to attend a meeting, but you will need to supply your name and email address to join the meeting.

*Please* check and prepare your computer a day or two

in advance of the meeting as follows:

1. Start your web browser

2. Visit

3. Select Setup / Meeting manager (left side of page)


For Help with WebEx

- WebEx setup help: 1-866-229-3239

- Info:, click USGS Help (at left)

- USGS account questions:


The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting on May 30-31, 2012. The agenda for the meeting follows:


Top of the Town, 1400 N. 14th Street, Arlington, VA

May 30 – 31, 2012

Connections on Water Sustainability



Day 1: Wednesday May 30, 2012

  8:15 a.m.  Registration and Coffee

  9:00 a.m.  Welcome Remarks from SWRR: SWRR Co-chairs, David Berry, SWRR manager/facilitator

  9:05 a.m.  Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Activities and History: John Wells

  9:25 a.m.  Round of BRIEF Self-Introductions mentioning interest in sustainability and water

10:25 a.m.        Break

10:40 a.m.   Introducing the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) and its Subgroups

                    Moderator: John Wells

                   The History and Role of ACWI in Advising Federal Agencies on Water Topics –

                        Wendy Norton, USGS, ACWI Coordinator confirmed

                   ACWI Subgroups:

National Water Quality Monitoring Council  Susan Holdsworth, EPA

National Liaison Committee for the National Water Quality Assessment Program

Subcommittee of Ground Water, Robert Schreiber, Amer, Society of Civil Engineers

Subcommittee on Hydrology, Richard Raione (NRC) and Victor Hom (NOAA) Co-chairs

Subcommittee on Sedimentation, Marie Garjo NRCS (ret.) invited

12:10 p.m.  Lunch   (Speaker – Maureen Sullivan Director, Environmental Management Office of the

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment)

  1:10 p.m.  Discuss connections among ACWI Subgroups, Fed. Agencies and Other Organizations

  1:40 p.m.  Panel on Water Sustainability in the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security

                     Moderator: Bob Wilkinson

                      Speakers:  Marc Kodack, Office of Ass’t Secretary of the Army, Energy &Sustainability -     

                       Army water security strategy and net zero water initiative pilots across the U.S.

                     Speaker from the Navy –

                     Speaker from Army Corps of Engineers – Ada Benavides


  2:50 p.m.  Break

  3:10 p.m. Panel on Current Work on Water Sustainability in Federal Civilian Agencies

     Moderator: Deanna Stouder, US Forest Service

EPA Ron Hoffer, EPA Senior Advisor on Water Sustainability

     Water Aspects of the new Forest Plan, Rick Swanson, USFS

     Federal Managers Responses to Climate Change, Frank Reilly, LMI.                                


   4:15       Wrap up discussion for the day 

   4:30       Adjourn and reception and dinner for out-of-towners and others interested


Day 2:  Thursday May 31, 2012

 8:30 a.m.         Coffee

 9:00 a.m.         Welcome, Recap and review of goals for the day

 9:10 a.m.         Panel Presentations on  Water Sustainability Applications

                        Moderator: Jill Parsons Ecological Society of America

Application of Water Stewardship Tools to Large Industries: Great Lakes Case Studies, Penelope Moskus, LimnoTech

                            The Army Water Boot Print,   Frank Reilly, LMI.   

Water Sustainability for the California’s Water Plan, Rich Juricich, California Dept. of Water Resources

                  Applications of the Water Footprint

                        Moderator: Jill Parsons. Ecological Society of America

Work on Water Footprint  by Council of Great Lakes Industries

Wendy Larson, Limnotech,

                        The Army Water Boot Print   Marc Kodack, Office of the Ass’t Secretary of the Army for               

                                  Energy and Sustainability  

                        California’s Water Footprint Rich Juricich, California Department of Water Resources

10:15 a.m.       Break

10:30 a.m.      Community Participation in Federal Water Related Environmental Programs.

                        Moderator: Mariana Grossman, Sustainable Silicon Valley

Cheryl Little, Senior Associate, Skeo Solutions  (leads collaborative solutions under EPA’s Technical Assistance Services for Communities (TASC).

                        Speaker from BLM on public involvement related to NEPA

                        Marianna Grossman, Sustainable Silicon Valley: Social Media - a tool for community participation

11:30                Open discussion of what is next for SWRR in support of sustainability programs

12:15 p.m.        Lunch    Speaker: Ed Pinero Veolia Water. The Alliance for Water Stewardship

                        The International Water Stewardship Standard

 1:15 p.m.         Breakout sessions to give feedback on the draft International Water Stewardship

Standard.  The standard will be ISEAL-compliant and define principles, criteria, and indicators for how water should be stewarded at site and watershed scale in environmentally, socially, and economically beneficial ways. The Standard is intended to provide water stewards with an approach for evaluating existing processes and performances within their sites and watersheds, and ensuring that responsible water stewardship actions are in place to minimize negative and maximize positive impacts.

3:15 p.m.         Adjourn


Year 2011

On December 6-7, 2011 the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at UC Davis in California. 



The agenda for the meeting follows: 

Day 1

[Session will highlight DWR water sustainability and ecosystem stewardship efforts and importance to California water management] 

Welcome Remarks and review of discussions and goals for the day:

Robert Wilkinson and John Wells, SWRR Co-chairs; David Berry, SWRR Facilitator

Welcome by DWR – Mark Cowin, CA DWR Director 

Roundtable Background:  Summary of the Water Roundtable activities and history  

California Water Plan, Integrated Water Management – Kamyar Guivetchi, CA DWR [Session will discuss how the California Water Plan is advocating integrated water management and supporting water sustainability]  

California Water Sustainability Indicators Framework – Fraser Shilling, UC Davis  [Session will summarize the water sustainability framework being developed collaboratively with Water Plan stakeholder.  How the framework will be tested through two pilot studies] 

Amber Mace, California Ocean Protection Council will talk about the Draft Strategic Plan and critical ocean threats and potential solutions

California and Regional Sustainability Efforts  [Session will provide a roundup of regional sustainability efforts that have statewide significance in California. Presentations will describe important water sustainability actions that could be considered by the Water Plan in the framework described in the earlier session] 

The Delta Plan, Delta Stewardship Council Keith Coolidge

The California Regional Progress Report, Trish Kelly, Principal, Applied Development Economics, consultant to the Strategic Growth Council 

State of San Francisco Bay 2011, Christina Swanson, NRDC

California Water Foundation, Draft Concept for Water Sustainability.

Lester Snow, Resources Law Group 


Day 2: 

USEPA and NASA Indicator Efforts [This session will describe 4 pilot studies being funded by the USEPA to develop different components of sustainability indicators.  Individual studies are looking at water footprint, ecological foot print, and the use of satellite information to evaluate groundwater conditions and exploring interactions between crop patterns and plant growth] 

Introduction – Vance Fong and Don Hodge USEPA, Region 9

Water Footprint - Fraser Shilling, UC Davis 

Ecological Footprint – Joy Larsen, Global Footprint Network

Developing Indicators with the GRACE Satellite Data, Felix Landerer, NASA JPLP 

Developing Indicators using the Plant Growth Index, Forrest Melton. NASA Ames and University of Monterey Bay

Randall T. Hanson, U.S. Geological Survey, will talk about Using Climate and Hydrological Models to Assess Potential Future Conjunctive Use -- The Central Valley Example)

Smart, Distributed Water Infrastructure and Technology [This session will focus on activities of industry to innovate around sustainable business practices]

Sustainable Silicon Valley - Marianna Grossman, Executive Director, Sustainable Silicon Valley

Industrial Best Practices and Solutions, Andrew Clark, IBM

Agricultural sustainability topics [This session will highlight examples of sustainable initiatives within the agriculture sector both at the on farm scale and larger initiatives]

CA Agriculture Water Stewardship Initiative, Katy Mamen, Ag Innovations Stewardship for Specialty Crops, Steve Shaffer, Environmental Consulting for Agriculture(invited)

Wine Industry Stewardship Initiatives, Ann Thrupp, Fetzer Wines

Summary, Open Discussion, invite and exploration collaborations and Next Steps for SWRR (briefing on Capitol Hill?)



The Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) held a two-day meeting on July 12-13, 2011 at the USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia. In addition to the meeting, WebEx was available for those who could not attend in person. On the first day there were reports from the Dept. of Interior WaterSMART initiative, the National Streamflow Information Program, the Subcommittee on Sedimentation, the Subcommittee on Hydrology, the USGS Cooperative Water Program, and the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. 

On the second day votes were taken on resolutions before ACWI. Reports were also given by the Watershed Flow and Allocation Model project, the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, the National Water Quality Assessment Liaison, and the Subcommittee on Ground Water. Discussion led by Anne Castle, Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, focused on the SECURE Water Act and draft National Action Plan: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate. Further information is available on the ACWI web site at


On June 21 the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC about the water impacts of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas deposits. Speakers included representatives from both domestic and international organizations. The full set of results, with audio and video, can be found at:

Highlights from Speaker Presentations

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a multi-year study to assess the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, and to identify the driving factors that affect the severity and frequency of any impacts.
  • The two-part study will be published in 2012 and 2014, and incorporate case studies with the help of state and local partners, the Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey, state oil and gas commissions, and industry and environmental groups.
  • Fundamental research questions include:
    • How might large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface water impact drinking water resources?
    • What are the possible impacts of releases of flowback and produced water on drinking water resources?
    • What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewaters on drinking water resources?
  • Poland and France have some of the highest shale gas potential in Europe. In contrast, Germany has relatively little. However, shale gas development in the United States is being watched intensely in Germany and other European countries to learn from U.S. experience.
  • German mining law governs development of shale gas and other extractive industries, but does not allow for much civic participation. There is some difference between the United States and Germany, as communities around well sites might not be informed about drilling activity. German mining law needs reform to make gas development more open to public scrutiny, according to Wibke Brems, state legislator from Northrhine Westphalia, Germany.
  • In Germany, a formal analysis of the impact shale gas would have on the surrounding environment, known as an Environmental Impact Statement, normally would not be required because the threshold for compliance is higher than the typical output of well sites.
  • Pennsylvania has a long history of natural resource extraction, including oil, timber, and coal. However, the environmental impacts of shale gas development from the Marcellus shale and Utica shale (an older, deeper natural gas deposit below Marcellus) will dwarf the cumulative impacts from those resources, according to John Quigley, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
  • Roughly 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s land area (approximately 7 million acres) is leased for drilling, and the number of wells to be drilled in coming decades makes more accidents inevitable. However, shale gas represents a vast domestic energy resource which, if developed properly, could produce jobs, increase landowner wealth, and displace pollution from coal-fired power plants.
  • Pennsylvania has started to test water quality which includes radionuclide testing. However, more regulation is needed, according to Quigley. Pennsylvania is the only gas-producing state that does not levy a tax on drilling.
  • Compared to coal-fired power plants, natural gas plants use less water, produces no ash waste, and has a generally smaller greenhouse gas profile. Natural gas power plants are more adjustable than coal plants, which make them a more suitable complement to variable renewable energy resources like solar and wind.


On April 27-28, 2011 the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR), held a meeting at American University in Washington, DC. Important talks on the first day included information about the Key National Indicators Project (, the USGS National Water Census, the USFS National Watershed Assessment, and the EPA National Aquatic Resources Surveys. In the afternoon presentations included Federal-State Collaboration items like the AWRA National Water Vision, the Corps of Engineers Federal Toolbox, and the BLM/Western States Climate Change Collaboration. A session on Industry Water Footprint included a number of talks about how metrics are used by industry as part of product development. On the second day discussion focused on Effective Communication of Scientific and Sustainability Information to the Public. More information about the meeting will be posted on the government web site at The proceedings for this meeting can be found at:


On March 1, 2011 the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) held a one-day meeting in Reston, Virginia. Provision was made for some members to attend the meeting via webex and conference call. In the morning several federal agencies discussed their proposed water budgets for FY 2012. A question and answer period allowed members to find out more about plans for that fiscal year.

In the afternoon the USGS Science Strategy Planning Teams presented their approaches for implementing the overall USGS strategic plan for 2007-2017, Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges. The plan is published by USGS as Circular 1309, and is available on the USGS web site at There are 7 teams now in operation, for the topics Natural Hazards, Water, Environmental Health, Global Change, Energy and Minerals, Ecosystems, and Core Science Systems.

Information about ACWI can be found on the web site at More details about the USGS Science Strategy Planning Teams can be found on the web site at The minutes and action items from the meeting can be found at:


January 2011: Sustainable Sites Initiative, Winter Update
The Sustainable Sites Initiative is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden in conjunction with a diverse group of stakeholder organizations to transform land development and management practices with the first national rating system for sustainable landscapes. These guidelines apply to any type of designed landscape, with or without buildings, ranging from shopping malls, streetscapes, subdivisions, corporate and academic campuses, transportation corridors, parks and recreation areas, all the way to single family homes.
A “site” is a built landscape that encompasses all land in a designated space. Like green buildings, sustainable sites use less energy, water and natural resources; generate less waste; and minimize the impact on the land compared to traditional design, construction and maintenance techniques. Unlike buildings, sustainable sites can even give back by cleaning the air and water, reversing climate change, restoring habitat and biodiversity – all while providing significant social and economic benefits as well to the immediate site and surrounding region.
The Initiative seeks to apply sustainability principles to any site, with or without buildings, which will be protected, developed or redeveloped for public or private purposes.  The Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks can apply to all landscapes including commercial and public sites, parks, campuses, roadsides, residential landscapes, recreation centers and utility corridors.
More information can be found at

January 2011: Sea Level Rise in California, Oregon, and Washington
National Academy of Sciences

A committee will provide an evaluation of sea level rise for California, Oregon, and Washington for the years 2030, 2050 and 2100. The evaluation will cover both global and local sea level rise. In particular, the committee will evaluate each of the major contributors to global sea level rise (e.g., ocean thermal expansion, melting of glaciers and ice sheets) and combine the contributions to provide values or a range of values of global sea level rise for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100. They will also characterize and, where possible, provide specific values for the regional and local contributions to sea level rise (e.g., atmospheric changes influencing ocean winds, ENSO [El Nino-Southern Oscillation] effects on ocean surface height, coastal upwelling and currents, storminess, coastal land motion caused by tectonics, sediment loading, or aquifer withdrawal) for the years 2030, 2050 and 2100. Different types of coastal settings will be examined, taking into account factors such as landform (e.g., estuaries, wetlands, beaches, lagoons, cliffs), geologic substrate (e.g., unconsolidated sediments, bedrock), and rates of geologic deformation. For inputs that can be quantified, the study will also provide related uncertainties.

January 2011: The Sustainable Society Foundation has posted a sustainability tour on the website This tour offers each passenger an introduction to the main aspects of development towards sustainability. Just get on the bus and be guided along the highlights. You may drop off the bus at any stop and have a closer look at an issue of your particular interest. When you are done, just jump back on the bus and continue the tour.

We hope this tour is valuable for those who are interested in development towards sustainability, though not yet familiar with the subject. Moreover it may be helpful for students of any school, college and university (as one of the comments already proved).

Geurt van de Kerk, Sustainable Society Foundation, 


January 2011, National Academy of Science: Incorporating Sustainability in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A committee under the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) will conduct a study at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development to help define their efforts to incorporate sustainability concepts into Agency programs. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of EPA, a launch was held for this study on November 30, 2010, at the Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington, DC. Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences, Lisa P. Jackson, EPA Administrator, and Bernard Goldstein, chair of the committee that will conduct the study, made remarks at this event. A video of the event is available on the EPA website. Additionally, the first meeting of the committee was held from December 14-15, 2010, in Washington, DC. The agenda and presentations from the meeting have been posted on the STS website.


Year 2010

The Water Environment Federation (, held its annual conference, WEFTEC.10, during October 2010 in New Orleans. The Sustainable Water Resources Management Track was part of the conference, and consisted of two sessions of technical papers.

In the first session, a methodology for rating watershed sustainability in preparation for possible certification was applied to the New Orleans area. The effects of climate change on estuarine salinity were applied to the Savannah River in Georgia. A business model for total water management and resource conservation was presented that uses incentives for consumers, regulators, and developers. Associated posters covered TMDL implementation in watersheds, and the effects of climate change on water quality in the South Platte River, Colorado.

The second session included 6 papers with a networking break. Before the break, papers covered sustainable water supply in Los Angeles using recycling, interbasin transfer management in North Carolina, and sustainable water supply and water quality in the James River, Virginia. After the break, papers covered water resources planning, water and energy at an eco-tourism resort, and comparing water security practices in the Colorado River Basin and Australia. An associated poster covered water treatment processes for Stone Mountain Park in Georgia.


 The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a two-day meeting on Oct. 21-22, 2010 at the Freshwater Society in Excelsior, Minnesota. The draft agenda can be found at:

The proceedings can be found at

On the first day some national initiatives were discussed, like the USGS National Water Census, and the Corps of Engineers Collaboration for a Sustainable Water Resources Future. The University of Minnesota presented a Framework for Sustainable Water Management. Two panels were held, one on Planning for the Future, and the second on River Sustainability Issues and Initiatives. The second day was devoted to a panel on Great Lakes Initiatives, with talks on the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference, the Role of Ecological Research, Energy and Water, and an Industrial Stakeholder View.

The meeting report can be found at


The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), in cooperation with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), has completed a research effort to help communities overcome their challenges. The project, Sustainable Water Resources Management Volume 3: Case Studies on New Water Paradigm (DEC6SG06a), created a framework to support communities’ efforts to organize around and operate under key sustainability principles and practices.

The project, which considered the real-life challenges of two communities in Tucson/Pima County Arizona and Northern Kentucky, developed a new water management paradigm based on a composite of five integrated components:

  • sustainability goals
  • sustainability operating principles
  • integrated technological architecture
  • institutional capacity
  • adaptive management

The report constructs a framework for supporting the new paradigm which includes an integrated planning structure that connects current institutional silos; a technical toolbox to use in the context of performance-based requirements at the watershed and community scale; and regulatory flexibility to encourage innovation and affect better outcomes. The framework also addresses research and demonstration to build knowledge and capacity; new partnerships and funding mechanisms; and a variety of means for engaging the community stakeholders to broaden support and affect better outcomes.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) held a meeting at Palo Alto, California
on April 27-28, 2010. The first day included a SWRR overview by John Wells, especially the
indicator framework. Federal initiatives were covered, like those of the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory to use satellite based data, the USGS Water SMART effort, and the EPA Region 9
Sustainable Water Infrastructure and Climate Change Initiative. The Sustainable Silicon Valley
effort was described, along with its elements. Several innovative technology initiatives were
described with expected benefits. California's work toward sustainability in response to climate
change was described, as was the work of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The
California experience with the water-energy nexus was described by the University of California
Santa Barbara.

On the second day, presentations were given by the Sonoma County Water Agency, the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Association of California Water
Agencies, and this was followed by open discussion about future possibilities.The proceedings
link is on the Reports and Publications page. The proceedings can be accessed directly at:


Year 2009

The Roundtable on Sustainable Forestry (Meridian Institute) maintains a website that contains very useful information about ongoing discussions, meetings, and the documents that relate to them. It can be found at Of particular interest for water resources, the site includes information about the Dec. 3, 2009 joint meeting between the forestry, water, and rangeland roundtables held in Arlington, Virginia.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at Top of the Town, Arlington, Virginia, on December 1-2, 2009. Highlights of the first day included the status of the National Environmental Status and Trends (NEST) project, which has now reported its results to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). NEST information may be found at The Water Environment Federation (WEF) reported its plans as part of a partnership with the Alliance for Water Stewardship ( A North American Initiative is to be launched in 2010. Appearing as part of this presentation were representatives of the World Wildlife Federation and the Nature Conservancy. The luncheon presentation was given by the US Army Corps of Engineers (http://www.building-collaboration-for-water-org). Some significant reports are planned by the Corps for the near future. On the second day the USGS National Water Census Program was described ( The program plans significant advances in developing data layers, statistical sampling, and regression models. Near term focus may be on ground water and the modeling of aquifers, as well as the major water uses of thermoelectric power generation and agricultural irrigation. Exploration has begun on an ad hoc process by which the water roundtable could act in an advisory capacity for the Census.

The meeting final report can be found at


On October 14-15, 2009, the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests held a national meeting in Washington, DC, to develop an action strategy for the future. This is the oldest of the roundtables; documents may be found on the web site at The roundtable is beginning to focus more attention on water resources, as can be seen in its action plan. Important actions include conducting economic valuation of the nation’s priority watersheds, and supporting national data gathering and reporting activities, including water data.

On August 13, 2009 a workshop on water sustainability was held in Cincinnati, under the auspices of such organizations as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the National Science Foundation.  

The goal of the workshop was to provide a forum on the science required to sustainably manage the nation's water resources. A diverse but limited cross-section of the Federal, academic, and water provider and user communities convened to identify challenges, knowledge gaps, and research needs (with a time horizon of up to 15 to 20 years out) that must be addressed, as well as to discuss the most effective means of translating research into sustainable water management.  

The agenda included overviews of federal efforts like the Subcommittee on Water Availability and Quality (SWAQ) report, and the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI). Also included were perspectives of the academic, community, and corporate organizations.  

Discussion groups were organized around the themes of Knowledge Base, Science Agenda, Technology Agenda, System Level Water Sustainability, and Improved Coordination.  

A web site with relevant background reports can be found at: A report on the workshop is being prepared, and will be widely disseminated in the future. See this item under Reports and Publications for a web link to results.



The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at Top of the Town, Arlington, Virginia, on June 16-17, 2009. Highlights of the first day included reports from the Roundtable on Sustainable Forests, the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable, and the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable. The Water Roundtable presentation included a status report on the 2008 Annual Report, which was passed out in draft form. The luncheon talk by the Council on Environmental Quality covered possible new legislation, e.g., on water quality. A major presentation on the National Environmental Status and Trends pilot study on water quantity and quality took most of the first afternoon. Important questions involve the amount of water, its use, aquatic ecological communities, water quality, and human use and contact. On the second day there was a panel on federal agencies current programs in the new Administration that relate to water sustainability. Reports were given by USFS, BLM, EPA, NOAA, USGS, & NRCS. A notable interest in analysis at the watershed level was seen in some talks, e.g., USFS & BLM. EPA has worked at the watershed level for some years. Later in 2009 a Water Roundtable meeting may be held that would focus on outreach mechanisms for water sustainability topics.

Year 2008

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at Top of the Town, Arlington, Virginia, on June 26-27, 2008. Highlights of the first day included a summary of the recent Water Environment Federation Sustainability 2008 conference, and a panel on climate change with talks from USGS on the Water For America initiative, an update from EPA on the National Water Program Strategy, Response to Climate Change, and a summary of NOAA water sustainability programs. On the second day there was a presentation on the interagency water indicator effort that the Council on Environmental Quality has recently transferred to the Forest Service, and a presentation on the new Ecosystem Report by the Heinz Center. Much of the time consisted of breakout sessions about future actions; a series of draft Action Items was completed by the end of the meeting, which include possible changes in outreach and communication. One important action concerns how to best support the National Environmental Status and Trends (NEST) pilot study on water quantity and quality. Some follow-up work on this action occurred after the meeting.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable presented its annual report for 2007 at the Feb. 20-21, 2008 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI), in Herndon, Virginia. In addition to describing 2007 actions and planned activities for 2008, a Statistical Compendium for Populating the Framework was presented for review and comment. The compendium seeks to propose draft statistics in the form of tables or maps, that serve to present actual data in each of the categories now being used in the indicator framework. A small group discussion was held during lunch, and review by the full ACWI was requested by April 1, 2008. The goal is to obtain recommendations for better or more recent statistics from the agencies, that will better support their missions. The work of populating the framework is expected to evolve over a long period of time, as better information is obtained


Year 2007

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington, DC on Nov. 15-16, 2007. Highlights of the first day included an update on White House indicator efforts, NOAA integrated ecosystem assessments, and a presentation on the National Coastal Conditions Report. Water indicators used by EPA, USGS, USFS, and NOAA were also described. Discussion covered how these different efforts could assist one another. On the second day a talk about corporate responsibility and opportunities in sustainability was presented. Much of the day consisted of breakout sessions about future actions; one key action was to commit to preparation of a statistical compendium to populate the current framework with actual data. This draft compendium would be presented at the next meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI), for agency review and comment.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a special session at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, in San Jose, California, on August 6, 2007. At this session the current list of indicators and rationale were presented for discussion, with the goal of eliciting input about ecological systems, and how this concept might be improved in the present framework.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a two-day meeting at the National Wind Technology Center of the Dept. of Energy on May 22-23, 2007. The status of national efforts about sustainability was first presented as a background. The status of the Roundtable framework and indicators was presented and discussed in breakout sessions; the present set of indicators is currently being revised. After lunch a special forum on water resources and energy was conducted. This included work on types of renewable energy production, and topics like power plant cooling and municipal applications. The final session of day one was about climate change impacts on water. Day 2 began with a panel on Western water issues, with talks by the Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA, and the City of Tucson. A final session included topics like agriculture, irrigation, and ethanol. The wrap up focused on next steps for the Water Roundtable.

The First Western Forum on Energy & Water Sustainability was held on March 22-23, 2007 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The results of the conference can be found at The forum featured experts on energy and water, including a keynote address on power plant siting in California. Among many other topics, population growth, energy projections, and climate change were featured on the first day. On the second day, the subjects included energy efficiency, management options, alternative futures, and policies that might be developed to address current and future problems.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a two-day meeting at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on January 25-26, 2007. A panel on the connection between fossil fuel energy and sustainable water resources included representatives of the Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory. A second session on the current indicator framework focused on suggestions for improvements, and included representatives of the Minnesota Water Quality Board and the Council of Governments. Breakout sessions resulted in the formation of an energy-water work group, with members who have an interest in this crucial interaction. On the second day a session on EPA and water sustainability was presented by representatives of the EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, and the EPA Office of Wastewater Management. A final session on water sustainability in the metropolitan Washington region included representatives from the Council of Governments and the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The closing summary session included the formation of a local-regional work group to focus attention on water sustainability as practiced in regions such as the Washington metro area. Some actions in the future may include a small group retreat to consider how the indicator framework might evolve, and further work on the research needed in water sustainability.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable presented its 2006 annual report at the January 17-18, 2007 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information. The Roundtable outlined its planned 2007 activities, including a track at the Water Environment Federation WEFTEC’07, an article in Water Environment and Technology, papers at the World Water Congress in Tampa, a proposed special session at the Ecological Society of America annual conference, and a spin off conference on energy and water sustainability at the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Year 2006

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a two-day meeting focused on the water resources of the metropolitan Washington region on April 25 and 26, 2006. A panel on the Potomac and regional water sustainability included representatives of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program, and the Trash Free Potomac Initiative. Other speakers were from the Council on Environmental Quality, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. Discussion groups during the meeting concentrated on review and revision of the indicators currently in the 2005 Preliminary Report, and on possible future actions that the Roundtable might undertake.

The 2005 Preliminary Report of the Roundtable was subsequently completed and approved by the Advisory Committee. At the January 18-19, 2006 meeting of the Committee, a summary of the effort was presented, and some possible areas of interest for future work of the Roundtable were given. In a small group meeting, further suggestions were made by Committee participants for next steps that the Roundtable might take. The potential areas of interest were documented for further consideration.


Year 2005

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable presented its 2005 Preliminary Report at the September 14, 2005 Interim meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information. The report is currently being reviewed by the Committee, and portions of the report are yet to be completed.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a one-day meeting at the White House Conference Center on June 24, 2005. This meeting included an update on the status of other national indicator-related efforts, followed by a summary of the current state of the Roundtable indicators. The remainder of the day was used in breakout groups that reviewed the indicators in detail, and made comments on additions or deletions that should be considered for the list. The result led to the reduced list of indicators that was carried forward.

Hosted by the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable and the University of Michigan, 75 experts convened for a two-day workshop April 5 and 6, 2005 in Ann Arbor Michigan. The workshop consisted of over 25 technical presentations on sustainability research by leading experts from six perspectives. At every meeting of the Roundtable there were presentations by water resource experts who shared information as well as perspectives to promote better decision making in the U.S. on sustainability of water resources. Discussions of research needs and opportunities for collaboration among public and private organizations have been central to our work from the outset. To further this objective this workshop of experts was convened to explore research priorities with an emphasis on sustainability in the Great Lakes Region. While the meeting focused on the Great Lakes Region, the discussion and conclusions are broadly relevant to sustainability of water resources.

Eight Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) members conducted two, two-day indicator retreats, one at the Alice Ferguson Foundation's Hard Bargain Farm (Feb. 24-25, 2005) and one for a day at the Forest Service (March 8) and a day at the Ecological Society of America (March 9, 2005); all of these locations are in or near Washington, DC. This group of the SWRR went through an intense selection process to draw from the nearly 400 indicators identified in previous SWRR meetings, a much smaller draft set of indicators to publish to a broad range of people. Such an indicator list should be able to convey a general sense of the sustainability of water resources in the watershed or basin, in larger regions and aggregated to give a picture of water resources in the nation as a whole. Some important consequences and effects are omitted in this selection process as details are left out, including some that may be useful in diagnosing the causes of sustainability problems and designing responses. We think that the more detailed indicators should be produced as part of a national information system to be available to water resources planners and managers and the interested public.


Year 2004

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a one-day meeting on December 7, 2004, hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Ecological, Social, and Economic breakout groups continued to refine their indicator frameworks. Later in the day, a start was made on developing crosscutting indicators that might focus interests across all three areas. In addition, updates were given about current national indicator efforts, at the Council on Environmental Quality, the General Accountability Office, and the National Academy of Science.

A Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable Meeting was held September 13-14, 2004 at the Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The meeting was held to encourage participation from people in the Upper Midwest. The goal was to focus on the criteria and indicator categories that had been worked on at previous meetings and "populate" those categories with indicators from the large list of candidate indicators drawn from many sources including other multi-stakeholder groups working with water. Significant progress was made and lists of categories and indicators for the ecological, economic and social systems are being edited by volunteer subcommittees.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a one-day meeting on June 4, 2004, hosted by the Wilderness Society in Washington, DC. The meeting continued work on the framework for developing water indicators, and focused on how best to describe the necessary Ecosystem, Social, and Economic elements. Participants included representatives of government, industry, public interest groups, and professional associations.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a regional meeting, hosted by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, on March 2-3, 2004. This meeting involved participants who explained the progress to date in developing a national approach to water resources Criteria and Indicators, as well as those who spoke about the specific water problems of this region. A keynote speaker who placed these in a national and international setting was Peter H. Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute of Oakland, California. At this meeting the current results of the conceptual model were presented, including Criteria for Ecosystems, Social characteristics, and Economics, as well as categories within each criterion, such as water quality. Research in sustainable water resources was also covered. Further work on developing concepts of sustainable water resources and the research needed will be carried out at future meetings.


Year 2003

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, on Nov. 13-14, 2003. This meeting was the third two-day gathering held by SWRR. Over the course of those meetings the participants heard and interacted with senior policy makers in Federal Agencies such as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, the Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and officials of the Department of Agriculture. Corporations such as Southern Company, Georgia Pacific, Dow Chemical, Minnesota Power, and ALCOA have participated, as have States, localities and interstate councils related to water and a variety of non-government organizations including the Ecological Society of America, Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program and the Electric Power Research Institute.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable presented its activities to date at the annual meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information, Sept. 9-10, 2003. The revised Terms of Reference were accepted by the Committee with some edits. The Roundtable has held two meetings to date, with more planned for 2003 and 2004. Research is underway in the form of papers at professional meetings, and a special issue of the journal Water Resources Update. A conceptual model is being developed, and reviews are being done of the water indicators of other roundtables, in the report of the Heinz Center, and those done by EPA and USGS. Outreach to professional organization meetings will continue to disseminate results and to elicit ideas from new participants.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable held a meeting at USGS in Reston, Virginia on June 19-20, 2003. The attendance of about 50 people included representatives of federal and state government, local government associations, professional associations, industry, environmental groups, and academia. The nature of water resources sustainability was examined during the keynote panel from the differing perspectives of industry, the states, academia, and watershed associations. A proposed conceptual framework describing water sustainability was presented by a roundtable study group. The criteria and water indicators being used by seven existing projects were described in detail, to offer a possible starting point for future work in developing Water Roundtable indicators. Breakout groups carried out brainstorming sessions that addressed each session as it was held, and made a start on how to define water sustainability, and what goals should be formulated to achieve water sustainability. Future actions for the Water Roundtable were developed at the close of the meeting, and these included additional joint efforts, publication of results, enlisting additional sources of support, outreach to other stakeholders, and seeking support for further research.


Year 2002

The inaugural meeting of the Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable was held December 10 and 11, 2002 near the WEF headquarters in Alexandria, VA. Almost 60 people participated, representing many Federal Agencies involved in water, some state and state organizations, and some from the corporate sector and environmental organizations. The group developed a clear consensus that decision-making from the national level to the individual level would be well supported by better information on water in the form of indicators that summarize the information and make it readily understandable to the layman. We also discussed research on water information and issues.

Several Federal Agencies expressed enthusiasm for participation and support of the work as did the others present. This Roundtable is the fourth such multi-stakeholder resource roundtable to be established, the others being (Forests, Rangelands, and Minerals and Energy) . Each Roundtable designs criteria for indicators and, over a period of time, indicators themselves that participants agreed reflect the important aspects and trends of the resource. With respect to water, we expect this work will focus on a wide range of supply, usage and quality topics.

The Advisory Committee on Water Information endorsed the Terms of Reference at the meeting of April 2-3, 2002. It was announced that a meeting of the Roundtable is planned for late in 2002. Resources to hold this meeting are being sought.

The USGS agreed to provide the web pages for the Roundtable, and placed them on-line in February 2002. The Roundtable now has a draft Terms of Reference, which is intended for presentation and review at the April 2002 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information. This will provide the starting point for subsequent dialogue within the Roundtable.

During January 2002 e-mail was distributed to encourage participation in the work of the Roundtable by those from many different agencies and organizations. One important action is the compilation of indicators that show the status and trends of statistics that describe various aspects of water resources. Such indicators can provide facts that show what is happening in water resources, and may assist those concerned with determining choices for alternative policies for the future. Work is now underway to compile indicator data from available sources. Recipients were asked to consider the following questions, and to send their ideas about possible answers:

What water resources indicators are most helpful in defining sustainability and why?

From what organizations can statistics about the status and trends be obtained for these indicators?

If new data should be collected for these indicators, what organizations should do it and why?


Year 2001

A planning meeting was held on November 27, 2001 at the Water Environment Federation, which included Federal and Non-governmental representatives. The Water Environment Federation will be the convener of the first Roundtable meeting, when sufficient support is identified. Actions from this meeting included: (1) Make contact with agencies and organizations that might have an interest in providing support for the Roundtable; (2) Start looking for organizations that might provide facilitation services for the first Roundtable meeting, and cost them out; (3) Look for an organization that would be able to provide a web site for the Roundtable.

In October 2001 the Chief of the Forest Service sent a letter of support for the Roundtable, and named points of contact for this effort within the Forest Service.

A presentation was made to the May 2001 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Water Information. The Roundtable was accepted as an ad hoc action with permission to begin organizing. Organizations expressing interest included the American Water Works Association, Ecological Society of America, Electric Power Research Institute, and Universities' Council on Water Resources.

The Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable originated at the March 2001 meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators. Other roundtables now existing include those on forests, rangelands, and for minerals. These roundtables focus, in part, on developing criteria and indicators to help report status and trends for more effective decision making. The meeting proposed that the water roundtable should follow an approach similar to the other roundtables.