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MWC 2012 - Plenary Speakers

Todd NortonTodd Norton
The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
Washington State University, Pullman WA

University/Community Partnerships for Complex, Place-based Water Management

Management of water resources is one of the more complex contemporary environmental issues, transcending scientific, political, social, economic, legal and cultural boundaries. Total water supply is impacted by geography, land use and cover, climate change and variability as well as interactions between ground and surface water. Water demand is driven by a host of physical and social factors from temperature to cultural views of green landscapes. In the face of finite supplies, demand management is essential for getting more use out of the same or dwindling amounts of water, which will require paradigm changes in attitudes and behaviors. Complicating this is the relative separation between university and public agency research expertise regarding resource management practices, as well as classroom activities and public policy.

The Spokane Coeur d’Alene corridor highlights the need for university and community managers to work together to respond to these complex issues. This talk addresses the challenges and significant opportunities that come along with these partnerships including within the institutions themselves, among entities in public sectors, and especially when university and public sector personnel collaborate. Key insights are provided into crossing disciplinary boundaries, organizational cultures and differing orientations to problems.

As an Assistant Professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, and Division of Governmental Studies and Services, Todd Norton works on multi-jurisdictional water management issues throughout the Pacific Northwest. His research focuses on sustainability dynamics for water resources in rapidly urbanizing and climatically sensitive regions. Todd works with community and university partners, integrating multiple disciplines and types of expertise to address the complexities of managing water in the Pacific Northwest. He spends most of his time working in interdisciplinary teams, which incorporate hydrology, environmental studies, engineering, and a range of social sciences, as well as agency and community-level water managers and resource programs. The goal of these projects is to analyze feedbacks among social and biophysical processes within the system in hopes of generating findings which are both scientifically and practically useful. Todd is a native of the Great Lakes region and currently lives in Washington state with his wife, Amy, and son, Sean.

Ken WagnerKen Wagner
Water Resource Services, Wilbrahman MA

Seeing the Big Picture: Options and Limits for Management of Lakes

Human activities in watersheds tend to raise nutrient inputs to lakes by an order of magnitude, while typical best management practices reduce inputs by no more than two thirds and often no more than half. This creates an imbalance whereby eutrophication is fostered and many designated uses are not well supported. Additional watershed management options of more recent origin have the potential to do better than historic efforts, including fertilizer control and low impact development techniques, but in-lake management methods are often necessary to meet water quality and use goals. Long-term inputs to lakes can foster productivity problems even when measured inputs seem acceptable, through sediment-water interactions. Phosphorus inactivation, aeration and mixing strategies, and several other approaches have the potential to support uses, even if all desirable water quality goals cannot be met. Human presence presents limits and trade-offs, and programs that mandate rehabilitation of damaged aquatic systems may divert funds better spent on protection of less impacted systems. Keys to successful lake management include putting protection first, effective monitoring to detect problems early, and decisive action in the watershed or lake to maintain desired features when problems arise. Being institutionally up to the challenge is at least as important as having a grasp of the scientific and economic factors governing environmental management.

Ken Wagner holds degrees from Dartmouth College and Cornell University. He has over 30 years of experience working on a variety of water resources assessment and management projects. In 2010 he started Water Resource Services, a small company with a focus on water supply protection and lake management consulting. He is a former President of the North American Lake Management Society and the current Editor in Chief of Lake and Reservoir Management, a peer-reviewed journal.

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