Auburn University hosting Alabama Water Policy Symposium May 10

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – A statewide partnership seeking a comprehensive water policy for Alabama will hold a symposium at Auburn University Friday, May 10, to inform Alabamians about current progress and also to solicit public comment. The symposium will be held in 207 Comer Hall Auditorium, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The theme is “Science-based Water Planning and Policy – What We Know, What We Need to Know, and How We Get There.”

Sam Fowler, director of the Auburn University Water Resources Center and a symposium organizer, said he encourages anyone interested in the discussion and development of a comprehensive water policy, whether citizens, stakeholders or elected officials, to attend.

The symposium is sponsored by Alabama Rivers Alliance, the Auburn University Water Resources Center, Alabama Water Watch and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

“The focus of the symposium will be on how science-based research related to water usage and management can help us develop comprehensive policy,” Fowler said. “We are fortunate to have many stakeholder groups like the Alabama Rivers Alliance, the Alabama Water Watch and others who want to be actively involved in the development of a water management plan for our state.”

A newly released book outlining some of the water-related research conducted by some 50 Auburn University faculty members representing a wide array of scientific perspectives will be presented at the symposium. Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Five Auburn faculty members whose research findings are featured in the book will share their findings at the symposium.

Members of the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group, as well as members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management, also will discuss the future of water policy. The Alabama Water Agencies Working Group is a partnership comprised of five state agencies charged by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley with identifying ways to manage the state’s water resources more effectively.

“The water management plan is envisioned as a broad, comprehensive plan that addresses all facets of water management,” Fowler said. “This is a highly complex issue that calls for lots of input and that is why we are holding this symposium and similar ones throughout the state.”

Eve Brantley, an Alabama Extension water resources specialist and Auburn University assistant professor of agronomy and soils, said the decision to hold the symposium reflects the growing interest in water stewardship.

“The focus on water has become so big, and this has sparked a discussion on types of research and Extension efforts that will be needed in the future to ensure that stewardship efforts are sustained over the long term,” she said.

In an era of rapid urban growth and what appears to be increasing climate variability, she said meetings like these, where informal sharing and discussion can occur, is critical to the state’s future, even in a comparatively water-rich state like Alabama.

“Yes, Alabama is a water-rich state, but we shouldn’t forget that we are living in a state with essentially the same amount of water but increasing numbers of people,” she said. “There is no single solution to all these water-related challenges but many, and we have the best chance of securing those answers by bringing all types of resources to bear on the problem – and enhanced education and better planning based on science-based research rank at the top of the list.”

The symposium is free. Lunch will be served and refreshments will be available during the breaks. To prepare for the meeting, go to the AWAWG website at www.adeca.alabama.gov/Divisions/owr/awawg.

For more information and to register, go to www.alabamarivers.org/current-work and click Water Policy. You also can email Adam Johnston at ajohnston@alabamarivers.org or call him at (205) 322-6395, or Eric Reutebuch at reuteem@auburn.edu or (334) 844-4785.

Contact: Jim Langcuster, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, (334) 844-5686 (langcjc@auburn.edu), or Charles Martin, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (marticd@auburn.edu)