Carol R. Collier, friend and current AWRA President, posted a very thoughtful piece a few days ago on the AWRA blog: 'Lately, I Have Been Thinking a Lot About Water Resource Priorities'. Give it a read - it deals with planning (she has a Master's in planning form Penn) - you know, as in 'the future'.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about water resource priorities for the near term future. This is driven by three events in my life. I have decided to retire from DRBC next March. Fifteen years in the executive director position is enough for the person and the position! Wanting to stay involved in water resources, I have been developing a list of the greatest water resource needs in my area. The second event was my attendance at the AWRA co-hosted conference on Water for Mega Cities, held in Beijing, which included some staggering facts on the numbers of persons who will be living in cities and the dire situation of water supply and infrastructure in many of them. Lastly, the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force recently released their report on recommendations on how to rebuild the Mid-Atlantic area that was devastated by the storm. Their basic recommendation was to plan for future storms in an age of climate change and rising sea levels.
What? Retiring? Boy, I was surprised and a little saddened to learn that Carol will be retiring from the Delaware River Basin Commission in March 2014. The DRBC is not well known to many people west of the Appalachians (or maybe I should say 'west of Philadelphia'). It is a four-state agency - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware - with the Federal govenrment (which has not been paying its share of the operating expenses these last few years) thrown in for good measure.
Carol has been spending much of the last 15 years of her life juggling all sorts of things in the DRB dealing with water. Lately, she's had the issue of fracking added to the agency's portfolio as there are deposits of shale gas in the PA and NY portions of the basin. And, as many of you know, NY and PA have taken somewhat opposite approaches to shale gas development and hydraulic fracking: the former is conservative, the latter, less so. Recall that Joshua Fox, the Gasland guy, encountered fracking while living in rural PA. New York is conservative partly (mainly?) because some of New York City's watershed is underlain by shale gas deposits. Add the always-entertaining NJ Gov. Chris Christie to the mix and you have an added factor of something -or-other. Christie is actually the DRBC's landlord, since the agency is based in West Trenton, NJ, just outside Trenton, the capital. Delaware doesn't seem to be much of a problem - all it wants to do is be able to continue collecting tolls on Interstate 95, incorporating businesses, and raising chickens (sorry, I am channeling my inner New Yorker). And the Feds are freeloading by not paying their share. Oh, did I already mention that? I'm really sorry!
I knew of the DRBC even before I met Carol. I vaguely recall hearing of it while growing up in New York - it's been around since 1961. I always thought the DRBC must be a huge bureaucracy - 500 or so employees. When I mentioned that to Carol several years ago, she laughed, and told me that the DRBC was authorized for something like 55 FTEs although they had just 43 FTE at the tine, primarily becuase the Feds aren't paying their share of the budget (she did not say that was the reason - she's too nice). Oh, did I already mention that stuff about the Feds being deadbeats? I'm REALLY sorry!
In any case, she's done an amazing job and I think the DRBC is a great model for a transboundary water resources management agency. I use them as such l in my classes. Yes, they do IWRM, and even do groundwater. The Commission was on top of water quality long before it was a gleam in DC's eye.
Carol has been touted as a role model for women aspiring to be water resource professionals, especially managers. Actually that's a load of crap; she's a role model for us all.
Want Carol's job? Here's the announcement. You've got a tough act to follow.
Oh yes - planning? She concluded her post thusly:
There is a lot of work to do in order to be better prepared for an uncertain future. It takes time to change land use policies or build a new reservoir. The time to get started is now. My hope is that there will be a national push for water planning and action and AWRA will be there to help you find your way.
Amen! Good thing for all WaterWonks to do - think about water resources and related planning - yes, the future.
I trust Carol will there to help light the path. Without her, it will be a tougher task.
"Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." - Unknown (from a poster I saw in the late 1970s)