World Water Week and the Criticality of Science to Water Resources Management

President's Message, March 2019

Lisa Beutler 

your hat. The March winds mark the change of seasons and usher in World Water Week. The 2019 theme is, ‘Leaving no one behind,’ and World Water Day, March 22, will focus on tackling the water crisis and addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

As most AWRA members already know, water scarcity is far from a third world problem. Entire American rural and urban communities, often composed of marginalized groups, are overlooked in the crafting of policy, if not victims of discrimination. The United Nations has declared, ‘water for all—whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right,’ yet tonight over 50,000 unhoused people in Los Angeles, California will go to sleep with water insecurity.

Water Week 2019 communicates the nexus of water to human dignity and the value of water to environmental protection, economic development, and job creation—and to inspire action. While AWRA does not engage in any political advocacy, we are proud to be a trusted resource for decision makers seeking forward thinking strategies, best available science, and tested best practices to incorporate into investment and policy discussions. We can also express the importance and magnitude of issues and offer information on options to address them. Other actions we can take are to:

  • Offer sobering facts, such as EPA’ s estimate that $650 billion in drinking water and clean water infrastructure investment will be needed over the next 20 years just to maintain current levels of service, with some estimating the need at over $1 trillion.
  • Explain how investment in water infrastructure, geographic watershed and state grant programs, water systems security, and water research are vital for protecting public health and the environment, promoting economic growth, and ensuring states and local communities can meet their increasing demands for clean and safe water.
  • Promote, in this time of heightened security concerns, coordinated action to support water agencies in preparing for natural and man-made threats capable of disrupting or destroying critical flood management, agricultural and drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Ensure authentic engagement of all communities impacted by water management decisions.
  • Emphasize the importance of science in achieving water management objectives.

At the January Board meeting, your AWRA Board of Directors further advanced some of these ideas by adopting the newest AWRA policy statement on the Criticality of Science to Water Resources Management. Criticality refers to a state of seriousness, crises, or urgency. We live in a world where scientific inquiry and thinking has come under fire. In issuing this policy statement, AWRA stands with the nation’s water resources professionals in affirming the fundamental importance of science in decision making and calling for the support, use of, and investment in science.

World Water Week also celebrates the investment and hard work of previous generations. Remarkable advances allow the desert to bloom and provide some of the safest drinking water in the world. And unlike some other nations, we no longer experience cholera or typhoid outbreaks more common in the country’s early days.

AWRA is blessed with a multidisciplinary membership of recognized experts and authoritative sources of knowledge that continue to safeguard our communities and environment. Our publications, Water Resources IMPACT magazine and the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) , along with our technical committees and specialty and annual conferences, create a platform for this expertise to be deployed.

During March, we will continue to explore ways to advance the World Water Week discussion and ask that you do the same. Embracing the ideals of no one left behind is a fundamental game changer. AWRA members have the knowledge, skills and abilities to bring the nation and world closer to this possibility.

Lisa Beutler
is the 2019 president of AWRA. Contact:


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