On December 3, 2009 as a follow-on to the December SWRR meeting, SWRR and SWRR manager David Berry sponsored a meeting at Top of the Town for representatives of all three resource roundtables: Roundtable on Sustainable Forests – Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable – Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable
The meeting was initiated by Peter Gaulke of the Forest Service and organized and facilitated by Sarah Walen of the Meridian Institute.
The participant list, agenda and preparation documents from the three roundtables can be found at
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 (SWRR), a subgroup of the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI). Bob Goldstein of EPRI and co-chair of the SWRR made a presentation of SWRR’s work including the framework for sustainability. Also included on the program 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: http://www.aiche.org/IFS/Conferences/Workshops/WaterWorkshop/Publications.aspx A report on the workshop is being prepared, and will be widely disseminated in the future.
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.
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
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 http://www2.bren.ucsb.edu/~keller/energy-water/forum_agenda.htm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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