21 May 2009

Rainy Day...

...in Tucson, Arizona! Who'd'a thunk it? Does anybody out there know what to do when it rains? I seem to have forgotten...

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately - so much work to be done! I am again in transition, though just a small move around the corner this time. The Arizona Water Institute is going away, at the behest of the state university system in Arizona. When the state showed a $3B deficit, what did they choose to cut? Education! When the state universities had to decide where to trim $100M+ this year, where did they look? Science! As a recently-added line item in the state's budget, AWI was a last-in-first-out target of miniscule financial proportions, at least in terms of true operating costs. As one of the few successful inter-university and government-linked collaborative efforts in the state, AWI was a target with significant impact. What can we not live without? Water!

Water's not the thing sometimes, at least "wet" water I mean. "Paper water" gets more attention around here. Rules and regulations, laws and policies, Central Arizona Project allocations, well water pumping reports, credits for aquifer recharge and trades between groundwater management areas, "water banking" for neighboring states, and that elusive concept of sustainability. AWI contributed to the understanding of all this paper water in Arizona and the Lower Colorado River Basin, so that real people could get real "wet" water when they need it. Our own director just shook hands with the Secretary of the Interior for her part in the Environmental Impact Statement that led to new operating rules for the Bureau of Reclamation along the Colorado River in times of shortage (like now). She co-authored a paper just published in Water Resources Research on the recent Arizona Water Settlements Act and its largely positive impacts on the fulfillment of water-related obligations to Native American tribes in Arizona. Other researchers funded by AWI have figured out how much various energy sources cost in terms of water (note: there are two different kinds of solar - one of them should never have been devised - and promotion of biofuel crops will be a bad idea in water-limited agricultural regions), found which pharmaceuticals persist in our drinking water, developed improved management plans for drought adaptation, and helped establish sensor networks in riparian areas and Native American lands across the state.

The state universities, and the state government as a whole, will rue the day when they cut their knowledge base in this way. Rue the day, I say!

So anyway, my official affiliation is moving from AWI to SAHRA, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center here at the University of Arizona. I get to keep my project, the Arizona Hydrologic Information System, and carry it as far as I possibly can. We'll see what we can do with it. I see a bright future in geospatial analytics, the mapping component of my efforts in hydrologic informatics...

Official (and unofficial) forecasts call for an early and strong monsoon onset in Arizona this summer, possibly accompanied by the development of a strong El Niño pattern in the eastern Pacific Ocean that would eventually bring an early end to the North American monsoon circulation, but at the same time increase the chances for East Pacific tropical storms, so maybe we'll see a double spike in precipitation over Arizona this summer. Will it end the southwestern drought? Unlikely.

In the meantime, some delta blues should fit the day nicely...

2 comments:

Delbert Grady said...

Matt,

No rain here. Guess everywhere East of Gila Bend got some. Still high and dry on the river.

Sorry about the Axe falling on your project. You were lucky to bring it to your new 'home' at SAHRA. Budget cuts are the new wave of things to come. I'm waiting to see how it's going to affect my work.

AHIS is a good concept as you combine data from many sources (Federal, State and County). This is one area that Arizona is ahead of the other Southwestern states.

Your work does serve a purpose as you are doing something that no one else is doing and learning along the way. Keep up the good work.

dg

M. Garcia said...

Thanks, Delbert - it's great to have such support from colleagues and friends, and it's a good part of what keeps me going. Look for lots of new things on AHIS as the summer progresses...