October was a month of water-events! Public events, workshops, grants and publications — all focused on water — made it a busy water-resources-focused month!
First, great news that our CEnREP team, led by Roger von Haefen, won a major award from the US EPA to value restoration of wadeable streams in urbanizing watersheds! The grant is highlighted in the News section of the CEnREP website — check it out!
In early October, as part of an RISF grant I received earlier this year, I hosted a workshop in which I sequestered away over 20 of NC State’s outstanding faculty researchers for two days in Wilmington, N.C. The group represented more than a dozen departments and research units on campus and the purpose was to forge interdisciplinary connections and potential research programs. It was two days spent facilitating research development & developing actions for moving NC State forward in water resources research over the coming year. An exhausting two days, but incredibly rewarding! (A shout out to my Leopold Leadership training for providing me with some great tools for “convening meetings that matter”!)
Also this month, I was busy preparing talks at public events. NC State hosted a day-long outreach event on Water Stewardship, with a focus on the water/agriculture nexus. The day included a keynote by Brian Richter, Director of Global Freshwater Strategies for The Nature Conservancy, and I participated in a session highlighting NC State research efforts around water resources management.
Also, the Triangle Land Conservancy hosted Wild Ideas for Clean Water, a terrific public event hosted after work hours at RTP headquarters (with catered local foods and craft beer — the audience was very relaxed!). Presentations at the Wild Ideas event were “Pecha Kucha” style — 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide (and slides automatically advance, the speaker has no control!). I practiced more for this talk than I have done in a long time! You should try a Pecha Kucha talk sometime — it will really help you hone your content and style! My slides are here and my talk is on youtube (starting at about 16 minutes into the evening). In the water stewards and wild ideas talks, I highlighted work done to estimate the recreational value of improving water quality in N.C. by Roger von Haefen (CEnREP Associate Director) and some new work I’m doing with Christy Perrin (Water Resources Research Institute) and Zack Brown (CEnREP affiliated faculty @ NC State) on the willingness of homeowners to engage in stormwater BMP retrofits (versus just paying the local utility a stormwater fee to “take care” of the problem).
Rounding out the month of water-work, was finalizing a few revisions to a manuscript that focuses on managing urban water demand during times of drought. Traditionally, the eastern U.S. has been thought of as a water-rich regime — averaging around 50″ of rainfall each year and seemingly plenty to meet residential, industrial, agricultural and ecological demands (compare our rainfall to 10-15″ for states like Colorado and Nevada and 20″ on average for California).
However, this notion is quickly changing. Population and economic growth in the Southeast, combined with significant water quality degradation in lakes, rivers and estuaries — not to mention some crippling droughts over the past decade — are driving water resources to the forefront of the public’s mind.
Recent droughts in NC, and the implementation of voluntary and mandatory watering restrictions in many NC cities, gave us the opportunity to examine the effectiveness of these policies. The work that I’m doing with Casey Wichman (Resources for the Future) and Roger von Haefen is profiled on the CEnREP website… read more about it here!