I have spent a good portion of my career managing groundwater...

President's Message | June 2021

AWRA is pleased to offer this issue of Water Resources IMPACT on California groundwater. I have spent a good portion of my career managing groundwater for long-term sustainability along with my colleagues in Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and elsewhere. For those outside of the West who wonder why this topic would be of interest, I note that for years many water resources professionals viewed California’s approach to groundwater as the Wild West. In 2014, after years of battles and negotiations, California finally adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)—viewed by some as a Grand Experiment. The law is complex and requires collaborative efforts by more than 100 groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to develop groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). In addition to creating a completely new class of water acronyms, GSAs are a new form of local government that did not exist before SGMA. This issue of IMPACT offers a point-in-time reflection on both the technical and social aspects of groundwater management since the passage of the act. We will continue to watch with interest as this experiment progresses and as Californians learn from implementation and wrestle with the inevitable challenges along the way.

As the nation’s premier multidisciplinary professional water association, AWRA has long promoted the concept that groundwater and surface water are often interconnected resources, and achieving sustainable water management requires full recognition of their linked nature. AWRA’s 2018 policy statement on fresh groundwater recommends 10 interrelated actions groundwater users, water and land resource planners and managers, and decision makers can use to advance sustainable groundwater management (see box on page 5). These actions provide a useful measuring stick for viewing what happens in California.

In other news, exciting things have happened since our last issue. We launched our first special workshop series for early-career professionals and students. The sessions focused on navigating those first years of professional life: negotiating a salary, mastering a multistep interview, becoming an ally in the workplace, building a brand, and much more. I had the privilege of participating as a speaker, as did several members of the Board of Directors. Early-career professionals, AWRA wants to be your go-to resource for advancing your water career! A special shout-out goes to AWRA member Jillian Young, one of our own up-and-coming early-career professionals, for organizing this well-received program. Look for it to be a regular offering in the future.

That’s not all—the 2021 Virtual Joint AWRA & National Capital Annual Water Symposium, entitled “Human Dimension to Resilient and Sustainable Water Management: Promoting Integrated Collaboration,” was also a resounding success. The April 15–16 event focused on the idea of circular economies, managing for the unknown such as the COVID-19 pandemic, social hydrology, environmental justice, and innovations in water resource management. Many thanks to conference co-chairs Tamim Younos and Sandra Pavlovic; finance chairs Seth Lawler, Devan Mahadevan, and Mathini Sreetharan; Technical Program Committee members Tolessa Deksissa, Keara Moore, María Nariné Torres Cajiao, Jason Giovannettone, Juneseok Lee, and Alaina Armel; and student activities coordinator Lorena Kowalewski. This was yet another example of the timely and high-quality content you receive by being part of AWRA.

And the beat goes on! As part of our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming community for the underrepresented in the water space, we are looking forward with anticipation to the July 18 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Workshop. This interactive workshop is designed to create a deeper understanding of the meaning and value of DEI. It will begin by offering a foundation for defining diversity, equity, and inclusion and considering unconscious obstacles to meaningful DEI. The second objective of this workshop is to provide actionable strategies for creating a DEI-focused work environment. Finally, it will focus on how to improve the perception of your organization’s DEI brand and how to develop and establish DEI advocates in the workplace and beyond. Participants receive a workshop recording and fillable certificate for self-reporting professional development hours (PDHs)/continuing education units (CEUs). Don’t miss out! Click here to register.

This will be followed on July 19–21 by the 2021 Summer Conference, “Connecting Land & Water for Healthy Communities” (featured in the March–April issue of IMPACT), which will bring together stakeholders across multiple disciplines, types of organizations, and professions to address the design, integration, and implementation of programs for better connecting land and water planning and policy. This topic resonates with me personally. Trained as a landscape architect and planner, I began my career seeking opportunities to connect land-use decisions to water-quality improvements. It was these connections, and the opportunity to discuss implementation policy with like-minded people, that brought me, and perhaps you too, to AWRA. We are tremendously excited to collaborate with several other land and water associations to bring some outstanding speakers and content to you at this event. Register here.

Lastly, plans for our 2021 Annual Water Resources Conference are in full swing. We hope to be able to meet in person November 8–11, 2021, in sunny Kissimmee, Florida (in the Orlando area), to soak in another technical program with a depth and scope that have earned AWRA a reputation for presenting one of the most diverse and inclusive conferences in water resources management. We are working on a plan B in case public health concerns override this goal, but our aim is to once again assemble as a community to share dinner or a beverage and to engage in conversations with friends and colleagues in a way that happens only out in the hall or at the exhibit areas.

I conclude this message with a word on our upcoming Board elections. We had a tremendous response to our call for leaders, and I understand that an outstanding slate of nominees is coming for consideration by the membership. Please take the time to embrace your duty as members to look at these candidates and determine whom you want to represent you on the Board. Please accept your franchise and vote! More than a few of our elections have been decided by the slimmest of margins.

We always appreciate hearing from you. Be safe and stay well.

Scott Kudlas is the 2021 president of AWRA.


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