FULL CUP | Volume 5

Managing Our Scarce Water Resources:
Intention Information Action

By Robert D. Shriner, Ph.D.
Director of Research, World Water Center

It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, and significant – “Good intentions are not enough.” In order to make useful changes in the management of the world’s scarce water resources we also need good information that makes possible informed choices and leads to timely, effective action. This issue focuses on some of the important roles and sources of information regarding water management, water programs and projects, water policy, water supply technologies and products, water conferences and events, and other water-related topics.

One of the things that stands out to many observers is the extent to which water information seems to be fragmented into specialized ‘information silos’ in which specialists in one aspect of water management talk to each other but have little exchange of information with specialists in other aspects of water management. Engineers communicate with engineers, environmentalists communicate with environmentalists, philanthropists communicate with other philanthropically motivated people, etc. Conferences of like-minded individuals are common but there are relatively few opportunities for cross-over discussions and sharing of information. Ocean water experts rarely seem to talk with fresh water experts, municipal water system experts rarely seem to talk with experts in small-scale community-based water systems, philanthropists and charitable water project providers often have difficulty finding each other, and so on.

A principal goal of the World Water Center is to provide and promote greater sharing of information regarding the growing shortage of water in many parts of the world and the organizations, laws, technologies, and approaches that contribute to the problem or to the solutions. To that end, the Center is slowly but steadily building a directory of water-related organizations and useful water-related information resources. Some of this information is already available on our website, www.worldwatercenter.org, and more will be appearing in the weeks and months ahead. Here are a few of the interesting and useful information resources we’ve identified so far, which you may not have been aware of previously.

Water Quality Information

Sound management of water resources and the delivery of safe drinking water requires good information on water quality. Water quality is affected by both natural and man-made conditions and it may change over time. Water quality varies widely from place to place; and water on the surface can be quite different in quality from water extracted from wells of different depths at the same surface location.

Given this complex situation, how and where can one find organized, reliable information about water quality in specific areas?

WWW.WORLDWATERWATCH.ORG is a nonprofit organization supporting other NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations), foundations, and government and private agencies involved in the planning, protection and restoration of water resources. According to its mission statement, World Water Watch (WWW) assists in the development and management of water quality monitoring networks and the design and implementation of remedial measures to restore surface and groundwater quality on a watershed scale.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., WWW represents a group of international experts, many of whom have over 30 years of experience in the U.S. and internationally in the field of water resources and environmental engineering. This group utilizes its expertise in the development of assessment, evaluation and design tools, and assists in specific project activities. WWW works closely with local communities to develop and support water resources protection and management activities. Its executive director, Dr. Paul Robillard, is a member of the World Water Center Advisory Board.

WWW identifies and collects water quantity and quality data from a host of sources in addition to WWW projects. All data is safely secured on WWW servers and available to other NGO’s, foundations and governmental agencies, as well as the general public.

Many organizations record and distribute water quantity and quality data. The Data Central program of the World Water Watch evaluates these sources for accuracy, reliability and coverage. In addition, specific Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) criteria are requested for each dataset.

Water Technology, Products, Events, Etc.

Water projects vary widely in size and complexity, from local wells and water harvest projects to large scale regional water purification and distribution projects. The range of technologies, products, and services needed to complete and support these projects is equally broad and continually evolving. Project managers need continuing information about available products, technologies, and suppliers; suppliers need continuing information about prospective users and their requirements. A number of on-line information resources have been created to meet the needs of both project managers and suppliers.

WWW.WATERONLINE.CO M provides news and other information about water projects, products, technologies, regulations, and related information, principally in the U.S.A. It is “focused on industrial and municipal wastewater treatment, drinking water purification, stormwater manage-ment, valve, pipe and flow control markets”. It also provides information on job opportunities for both job seekers and employers.

WWW.GLOBALWATERINTEL.CO M pro-vides a subscription-based monthly newsletter of 32-40 pages, delivered both electronically and in hard-copy format, providing analysis and strategic data on international water markets. While a paid subscription is required for access to the complete details provided in the newsletter, headlines and highlights are available to all website visitors, which gives a broad-ranging global view of water projects, events, and opportunities all around the world. For example, in late May, a search for water projects in Chile revealed five projects currently in the pre-feasibility stage of development; and the site’s Events page listed numerous conferences and events at various world locations.

WWW.DODGEREPORTS.COM is a unit of the McGraw-Hill publishing organization that specializes in providing information on a wide range of construction projects, including water projects, for suppliers and contractors. While it is a subscription service intended primarily for suppliers and contractors, it provides one of the most complete sources of

WWW.USWATERNEWS.CO M offers water-related news, product information, jobs information, a calendar of water-related events, and an on-line bookstore. While its main revenue sources are newsletter subscriptions and advertising, it offers a considerable amount of information without charge to visitors to its website. Its calendar of water related conferences and meetings is one of the best available, including events worldwide, and was recently chosen by the World Water Center website contractor as the principal source for our events calendar.

Water-Related Conflicts & Related News

It is increasingly common to find news stories about conflicts over the management and avail-ability of water, not just in the U.S.A. but around the world. On-line search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and others make it easier than ever to identify, collect, and present these news stories for tracking and analysis.

For example, if you go to the Google News website address shown below, you will see a listing of recent news reports resulting from a search of hundreds of news sources using the two terms water and conflict.

http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&tab=wn&ned=&q= water+conflict&ie=UTF-8

or more simply, http://tinyurl.com/6fro2e

You can then get daily, weekly, or monthly email updates of this list by clicking on “News Alerts” and registering with your email address.

Items included will range from debates of local councils over water related issues to civil wars abroad that are prompted by conflicts over water. Not all the items listed will be directly related to the principal topic; some will be a stretch or even unrelated but yet contain one or both of the search terms; but the results are still highly useful in tracking emerging and on-going conflicts involving water from around the world.

The same or similar techniques can be used for tracking other water-related news topics, such as water law, water quality, water crisis, water policy, water management, etc. Results can also be narrowed down by adding specific geographic names such as Africa, Asia, America, Brazil, etc.

Water-Related Non-Profit Organizations

There are literally thousands of non-profit organizations involved in water projects of one sort or another, just in the U.S.A. alone. The number of organizations involved in water projects in other parts of the world is many times that. How then to find organizations involved in water projects in a particular area? Here are two useful resources.

WWW.IDEALIST.ORG is a website designed for the exchange of information about non-profit organizations, missions, and management. A search of the site’s contents for “water organizations” finds over 1200 organizations listed. If the search is narrowed to “water projects”, 340 organizations are listed. If the search is narrowed to “ Africa water projects”, 83 organizations are listed. This might be a good starting place for identifying organizations whose specific interest and approach matches those of you or another donor. Additional searches can be tailored to search for a specific region or type of project or organization of interest to an inquirer. WWW.GUIDESTAR.ORG is a non-profit organization whose website provides information about organizations which have met U.S. IRS requirements for designation as a tax-exempt charitable organization (501-c-3) based on the annual tax returns (IRS Form 990) filed by these organizations. While some detailed information on an organization may require a subscription to cover the operating cost of the website and services, copies of IRS 990s filed with IRS are available on-line at no charge. This provides a good way for a prospective donor to learn more about the activities, leadership, and financial condition of an organization, based on its annual report to the IRS. While organizations with annual income of less than $US25,000 are not required to file an annual IRS Form 990, all other 501-c-3 organizations are required to do so and to provide financial information for their most recent fiscal year.

These are just a few of the growing number of information resources that are readily available to those interested and concerned about improving, managing, and protecting the world’s water resources.

Other Items of Note

World Water Center event calendar upgraded The Event calendar on the World Water Center website has been upgraded to make more effective use of information collected and compiled by others. It now makes use of the calendar of water-related conferences and events compiled by various other sources, most notably USWaterNews.com. Check it out.

Email distribution of FULL CUP newsletter Beginning with this issue, copies of the FULL CUP newsletter will be distributed by email directly to organizations and individuals who have previously registered with the World Water Center . Copies of both current and previous newsletters will

continue to be available on the World Water Center website.

Update your organization and project contact information It’s probably been nearly a year or more since information was obtained from you about your organization and projects. Please check the information for your organization on our website www.worldwatercenter.org to make sure it’s up-to-date and complete. Email any changes and updated contact info to Updates@worldwatercenter.org. Use the “Submit Your Project” page on the website to add new projects. Also encourage other organizations to register and list their projects.

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