Connecting the drops: A UMN delegation heads to the 2018 One Water Summit
You can’t solve a puzzle with only the corner pieces, and you can’t climb a ladder with only the top and bottom rung. Without meeting in the middle and working together, it’s difficult to accomplish much of anything. Shouldn’t this also be the case as we work with clean water?
Thanks to the US Water Alliance, it is.
The Alliance aims to fill in the “middle” of clean water efforts by convening the experts needed to achieve it. From July 10-12, 2018, the Alliance will hold its second annual One Water Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bringing together a cross-section of hundreds of the nation’s top water professionals, the conference will offer networking opportunities, interactive workshops, and collaborative discussions with the goal of creating sustainable, integrated, and inclusive approaches to managing one of our most precious natural resources.
Kate Brauman, lead scientist of IonE’s Global Water Initiative, and IonE Fellow Jonee Brigham of the College of Design first learned about the One Water Summit in 2017, and they were excited by the national effort to encourage collaboration between the many entities that manage water. The pair spearheaded applying for an IonE Mini Grant in order to facilitate UMN participation in the 2018 Summit, including subsidizing registrations and collaborating on activities such as site visits.
“This conference is bringing together people interested in how water systems in the United States function, but coming from from wildly different perspectives and backgrounds,” Brauman explains, which makes it an especially exciting and intriguing opportunity for the University community to interact.
A delegation of 13 UMN researchers and leaders, including some of our IonE Affiliates and staff, as well as individuals involved in the UMN Water Council, will attend. In addition to Brigham, U of M participants include the College of Science and Engineering’s Paige Novak and Larry Baker, IonE’s Jeff Standish and Orli Handmaker, the Humphrey School’s Bonnie Keeler and Steve Kelly, the BioTechnology Institute’s Mike Sadowsky, UMN Sustainability Director Shane Stennes, Diana Dalbotten of the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, the Weisman Art Museum’s Boris Oicherman, Laurie Moberg of River Life (Institute for Advanced Study), and the UMN Water Resource Center’s Jeffrey Peterson.
As a delegation, the group has an opportunity to make a public commitment as part of their participation in the conference. With Brigham and Novak taking the lead – and inspired by the work of the UMN Water Council – the UMN group collaboratively penned a promise: to integrate the Alliance’s “One Water” ethos into an inventory, led by Peterson, that will map water research and activities at the University of Minnesota.
“We were intrigued with the idea of using the conference to engage the University community,” says Brigham. “Our inventory will provide a common language for sharing the work we do here with a broad network, from academia, to industry, to nonprofits.”
Delegation members are also helping organize a site visit for conference attendees, who will get an up-close look at the University of Minnesota’s state of the art hydraulic research facility, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL). At SAFL, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, conference goers will learn about the research efforts of water-related organizations across the University of Minnesota and tour the lab, including exploration of its machine and fabrication shop and innovative data collection technology.
“We are excited to showcase how our facility and research have continually evolved to meet the changing needs of society, keeping us very relevant in addressing the complex environmental issues we face today,” says SAFL’s Communication Specialist Barbara Heitkamp. “In bringing delegates from One Water Summit to SAFL, we hope to create new connections, inspire conversation, and showcase how SAFL is a resource that can be utilized by researchers, practitioners, and policy makers from all over the world.”
Brigham is optimistic that the Mini Grant, and the opportunity to convene this UMN delegation, will continue to have an effect long after the summit, particularly as it builds on the work of the Water Council, a silver sponsor of the event. “Sustaining the energy from a conference can be hard,” Brigham notes. “The IonE Mini Grant and the delegation work it supports provides a path to working together in a coordinated way toward sustainable, equitable water management.”
Grace Becker is the Communications Assistant at the Institute on the Environment and an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, where she studies strategic communication, sustainability, and Spanish.