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Meeting, held in Denver, brings together variety of groundwater stakeholders
From high-tech groundwater modeling to low-tech water wells in developing nations, the 2010 NGWA Ground Water Summit and 2010 Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting last week spotlighted the latest in groundwater science and engineering.
The Ground Water Summit, held in Denver, was sponsored by the National Ground Water Association and its Scientists and Engineers Div. It brought together a wide variety of groundwater stakeholders including regulators, practitioners, natural resource managers, policymakers, municipal planners, remediation site owners, academics and those who supply knowledge and technology needed to address key water issues.
“I think we had amazing plenary sessions, some excellent panels, and some really great presentations. I hate to pick out just one or two. They were excellent,” said Dr. David Kreamer, professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Department of Geoscience.
Kreamer was co-chair of the program along with Dr. Eileen Poeter, International Ground Water Modeling Center, Colorado School of Mines.
One phenomenon that became apparent at the Summit is a gap between technology and its use by practitioners, said Poeter, who chaired the Darcy Panel, “The Highway from Research to Practice — Navigating the On-Ramps.” This panel followed 2010 National Ground Water Research and Educational Foundation Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecturer Timothy D. Scheibe, Ph.D., of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who spoke on the subject, "Quantifying Flow and Reactive Transport in the Heterogeneous Subsurface Environment: From Pores to Porous Media and Facies to Aquifers.”
“The Darcy Lecture emphasized that we should try to build our [groundwater] models from basic principles and data instead of calibrating. But the reality for practitioners is that this is pretty remote and way in the future,” Poeter said. “The panel, primarily consultants, found that practitioners aren’t really hearing about the new research. They are so busy with running their businesses that they are not reading journals.”
Among the ideas emerging from the panel was getting more practitioners to publish in journals such as NGWA’s Ground Water and Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation, which might draw more practitioners to read them.
“Some practitioners are doing really exciting things that aren’t getting into journals,” Poeter said.
Another communication issue explored at the Summit involved work in developing nations.
Kreamer, who has led students on overseas projects to construct water wells for impoverished people, said there are thousands of academics, professionals and charitable organizations constructing water wells in the developing world with little or no coordination.
A partial survey of these humanitarian efforts funded by the nonprofit Water Advocates has provided some data to delineate the problem.
“There are thousands of well-intentioned people working in the developing world. Some may be doing more harm than good,” Kreamer said. He added that the Summit helped “push forward” a university consortium working to build ties with professional and nonprofit organizations to bring greater coordination to the humanitarian effort to install water wells in developing nations.