AWRA-CO and CGWA co-hosting virtual symposium highlighting collaboration in water resource planning

The Colorado Chapter of the American Water Resources Association and the Colorado Ground Water Association are excited to co-host their annual symposium to be held virtually from April 26th through the 28th. The theme for the 2021 Symposium is Entering New Territory: Forging Ahead in Water Resource Planning. The symposium will feature two full days of engaging and educational technical content in addition to a multi-state keynote panel discussion, numerous opportunities for virtual networking, a silent auction, and a virtual expo.

As the theme indicates, the symposium will highlight examples of individuals and groups collaborating, sharing solutions, and crossing traditional boundaries to approach water-related problems in new ways. When developing the symposium program, the goal was to broaden our horizons and cast a wide net for potential presentations that can help Colorado’s water resource community expand its breadth of knowledge of innovative water resource ideas from colleagues in, and beyond, state lines. This is exemplified in Wednesday’s keynote featuring a panel of experienced water professionals throughout the west who will discuss the challenges facing their states and the potential for collaboration.

Virtual Symposium Keynote Panel featuring Tracy Kosloff – Deputy State Engineer at Colorado Division of Water Resources, Melissa Schaar – Hydro Science Manager for the Water Resources Division of the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, Mary Verner – Water Resources Program Manager for the State of Washington Department of Ecology and Brian Patton – Executive Officer of the Idaho Water Resource Board. Credit: AWRA

The event will kick off with a virtual Happy Hour on Monday afternoon, providing an opportunity for attendees to test out the event platform and connect with colleagues. The symposium will start in earnest on Tuesday morning with a look around the South Platte Basin. Presentations will highlight creative water projects spanning the State’s most populous river basin. The afternoon session will delve into drought in Colorado, focusing on the propensity for drought, past drought experiences, drought planning, and responses from a variety of perspectives.

Tuesday evening will feature an opportunity for students to build their water network joining a team of professionals who will be answering questions and providing their advice on job searching, the online application process, interviewing, as well as opportunities in the job market.

Wednesday morning will kick off with examples of how water providers have overcome unique obstacles in their commitment to delivering a reliable quality and quantity of water including a presentation on the effects of the East Troublesome Fire to CBT operations. The afternoon session will focus on water supply planning in new areas that venture across state boundaries.

Virtual Symposium video conferencing platform featuring breakout sessions, networking, and a virtual expo booth. Credit: Hopin

While we hope to be meeting in person again soon, the virtual platform enables attendance from individuals and speakers who might otherwise be unable to attend in person. The symposium will be hosted on Hopin, a virtual platform whose features mimic in-person events. The platform has an intuitive interface including side-by-side video and chat windows, a “stage” video window for presentations, separate breakout rooms (with running chat) for post-session, interactive Q&As with attendees, plus a separate area for virtual “exhibit booths.”

Symposium registration is open on AWRA’s and CGWA’s websites. Recordings will be available to symposium registrants who are unable to attend the live sessions. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. AWRA and CGWA are nonprofit organizations with a commitment to educating future groundwater and water resource professionals each providing annual scholarships to Colorado students in their respective fields.

Jon McAnally chairs AWRA Colorado’s News and Outreach Committee and is a Water Resources Engineer at HDR in Denver where he works on a variety of water related projects in Colorado and throughout the west ranging from water supply planning to floodplain management. He has a master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State focusing on water supply planning and management and is a registered professional engineer in Colorado and a certified floodplain manager.