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How Can Science Inform Water Policy? A Panel and Dialogue

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National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine - Keck Center

500 Fifth St NW

E Street Conference Room

Washington, DC 20001

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How Can Science Inform Water Policy? A Panel and Dialogue

Identifying the scientific questions, and sharing and communicating the scientific results that inform policy is challenging for many reasons. In the specific case of water policy, the complexity of the range of topics involved, their geographic diversity, range of scales, the potential impacts to people and the environment, and the vast number of involved parties in the public and private sectors makes reliable scientific information an important part of the policy- and decision-making landscape. This forum, presented by the AGU Water and Society Technical Committee and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Water Science and Technology Board, will provide a space for active dialogue among scientists and decision-makers. A moderator-led panel of experts will discuss top water science policy issues and barriers to incorporating science into policy.

  • What are the most pressing needs to which water resources decision-makers are trying to respond? What is the role of water resources science in these decisions?
  • What are scientific insights that haven’t yet gained traction in water policy and why are they not being taken up?
  • What kinds of scientific information do policy- and decision-makers find most useful?
  • How can the water resources research and technical communities engage in constructive ways with policy makers? And, conversely, how can the policy community better communicate its needs to research and technical audiences?

Please join us for an afternoon of discussion to delve into these and other questions.

*Webcast option: https://nasem.zoom.us/j/265847368. If calling in via phone, first open the web link to retrieve the Participant ID. Enter in this Participant ID after the prompt on the phone.*


Agenda

3:30 pm - Opening Remarks

3:35 pm - Introduction of session and panelists

3:45 pm - Panel presentations, moderated by John Matthews, Alliance for Gloabl Water Adaptation

  • Aaron Salzberg, U.S. Department of State
  • Yanna Lambrinidou, Virginia Tech
  • Guillermo Mendoza, US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Laurna Kaatz, Planning Division at Denver Water
  • David Wegner, U.S. House of Representatives committee staff (retired)

4:20 pm - Discussion and Q&A

4:55 pm - Closing Remarks


Speaker Biographies

John Matthews

John H. Matthews is the Coordinator and co-founder of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), which is hosted by the World Bank and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). His work blends technical and policy knowledge for climate adaptation and water management for practical implementation. John has worked on five continents and more than two dozen countries and published in many policy, scientific and technical journals and books, including Science and Nature Climate Change. He is a frequent speaker, panelist, and moderator. His work primarily targets decision-making frameworks for adapting water infrastructure and ecosystems to climate impacts. He co-founded the #ClimateIsWater advocacy group, now led by the World Water Council, and has been asked by the UNFCCC to lead several water initiatives, including the first global water-climate dialogue at a COP. Recent projects have included leading teams of more than 100 experts to develop green and climate bond resilience criteria for water investments (which has funded more than 1 billion USD in their first year), co-authoring a state-of-the-art guidance for mainstreaming climate adaptation into water management applied on four continents to date, developing climate-sensitive approaches to environmental allocations such as environmental flows at national and project levels, working with global policy instruments and institutions to embed water-climate knowledge into climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives, coordinating efforts to use finance mechanisms to implement nature-based solutions to climate adaptation, assembling curricula to build capacity around sustainable resource management, and exploring new economic tools to support integrated long-term planning. John has advised a wide range of institutions, including bilateral, multilateral, NGO, national level agencies, UN agencies, foundations, and corporations on topics ranging from non-stationary resource management, finance, economics, and management practice. He is a columnist with OoskaNews, a Senior Water Fellow at Colorado State University, a Courtesy Faculty member of the Water Resources Graduate Program at Oregon State University, and Senior Fellow with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Previously, John started and directed global freshwater climate adaptation programs for WWF and Conservation International. He has PhD in ecology from the University of Texas, where he studied long-distance migration by dragonflies.


Guillermo Mendoza

Dr. Guillermo Mendoza is a Team Lead for Integrated Water Resources Management with the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources (IWR). At IWR Dr. Mendoza provides international and domestic support to decision making for complex water resources problems, such as implementing IWRM, implementing trade-offs analysis, collaborative modelling for decision support, and risk-informed decision scaling for climate change adaptation. He is the lead author of the manual “Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis: Collaborative Water Resources Planning for an Uncertain Future”, which was published by UNESCO-IHP and ICIWaRM, and launched last month in Paris. He has also led several water management projects across the globe that integrate stakeholder processes with planning and engineering analysis. For example, over the last four years he has supported the Public Works Department of Udon Thani and the Mayor to engage the stakeholders in the decision making process for an urban flood risk reduction master plan using green infrastructure. He graduated as an agricultural engineer University of Maryland, and received a PhD from Cornell University in 2001 in bio-resources engineering. He is a water resources modeler by training and began his professional career developing water quality models for New York City Department of Environmental Protection to adhere to USEPA regulations achieved by watershed and dairy cattle pollutant management. Subsequently, he worked as a long-term water resources engineering contractor for USAID in Central America. Previous to joining IWR, Dr Mendoza developed and led the water program for ecosystem services models with the Natural Capital Project at Stanford University to develop a first prototype of InVEST, an ecosystem services decision support tool. Most recently he has completed a one year assignment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as a senior policy analyst supporting coordinated US science and technology for water security and resilience.


Yanna Lambrinidou

Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou is affiliate faculty in the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech and founder of the non-profit children’s environmental health organization Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives. Her work focuses on environmental health, policy, and justice at the intersection where scientists, engineers, and diverse publics meet. Her research on the 2001-2004 Washington, DC lead-in-water crisis and its aftermath helped expose wrongdoing on the part of engineers and scientists in local and federal government agencies. Dr. Lambrinidou co-founded Virginia Tech's graduate class "Engineering Ethics and the Public." Her "Learning to Listen" module - which employs an ethnographic approach to ethics instruction - was recognized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as exemplary in infusing ethics into engineering education. In 2014-2015, Dr. Lambrinidou served on the EPA National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) workgroup, and was the group's sole dissenting member. In 2016, Dr. Lambrinidou testified at the US House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on "The Flint Water Crisis: Lessons for Protecting America’s Children." She serves on the Policy and Infrastructure subcommittees of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee (FWICC), which aims to develop long-term solutions to Flint's drinking water crisis.

Laurna Kaatz

Laurna Kaatz is the climate science, policy, and adaptation program manager for the Planning Division at Denver Water. Her primary responsibility is to coordinate climate investigations and implement the findings into the planning process. Laurna’s work incorporates many areas of water resource planning, including climate and drought planning, operational and water rights analysis, and long range integrated resource planning. Before her career at Denver Water, Laurna was a Professor of Physics at Sweet Briar College, and then went on to work as a climate science researcher with Aurora Water. Laurna has a Master’s degree in physics and a Bachelor’s in physics and mathematics. She is a Colorado native and enjoys all the outdoor activities it has to offer.

David Wegner

David Wegner is retired from a senior staff position on water, energy and transportation committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. In that position he worked on legislation that directly affected administration policy and federal agency actions related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Bonneville Power, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Department of Energy. Prior to serving in Washington, D.C. he worked for over 20 years for the Department of the Interior managing water and science programs in the Colorado River basin and the Grand Canyon. During his tenure at DOI he was instrumental in formulating the Adaptive Management approach for other river systems impacted by dams and river operations. For 14 years he built a private international environmental company that focused on global water issues. Currently he works as a part-time senior scientist/engineer for Jacobs Engineering (a Fortune 500 Company) and provides input and strategic counsel to NASA/JPL, academic institutions, members of Congress and staff, and international organizations focused on water, energy, coastal and climate issues. Mr. Wegner is a frequent lecturer on the use of science in natural resource management and on the history of western water. He is on the boards of the Glen Canyon Institute, the Sonoran Institute and CalCom Solar. Mr. Wegner received his MS in engineering/fluvial geomorphology from Colorado State University.


Aaron Salzburg

Dr. Aaron Salzberg manages the development and implementation of U.S. foreign policy on drinking water and sanitation, water resources management, and transboundary water within the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. He has served as the Chief of the Water Division, the Department of State’s first Special Coordinator for Water, and a representative or the lead water advisor for the United States at several major international events on water including the G8, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the World Water Forums. He also led the development of the U.S. Global Water Strategy. Aaron has a Ph.D. in Genetic Toxicology and a Master’s degree in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

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National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine - Keck Center

500 Fifth St NW

E Street Conference Room

Washington, DC 20001

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