World Water Day and How Groundwater Brought Me To Virtual Water Education
This year's World Water Day Theme is GROUNDWATER - which has sometimes been referred to as "The Rodney Dangerfield of Water (we don't get no respect!)." Especially when it comes to laws and regulations pertaining to groundwater, there has historically been a lot of uncertainty. In fact, in an Ohio Supreme Court case (Frazier v. Brown), the court ruled that the movement of groundwater was "so secret, occult and concealed" that it could not be regulated by the law.
In 1997, as a graduate student at UNC, I was hired by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources to develop new rules, based on the 30-year-old Capacity Use Act, that would support regulation of water use in the state's Central Coastal Plain (CCP) aquifer system, where increases in groundwater use throughout the region had led to seawater intrusion, land subsidence, and well interference.
We knew that if we were going to get regulators, legislators, and local thought leaders on board with the new Capacity Use Area (CUA) rules for the CCP, we would need to provide education on how groundwater works, what the issues were, and WHY it matters. This is tricky, since groundwater is underground (you can't just take people on a tour of an aquifer!).
We had recently put up a new website for the agency. I added educational materials to the site to explain in simple terms what the issues were and why it mattered. We weren't "dumbing down" water issues but breaking them down and using illustrations to explain the issues and their impacts.
I even hand-drew an illustration (which we scanned and uploaded to our website) showing how "overlapping cones of depression" cause water levels to drop more drastically (below is a much nicer drawing drawing from the USGS!)
During my time at NCDWR, I was also tasked with working the our counterparts in the North Carolina Division of Water Quality on permitting for the state's first Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) well. This initial work on ASR regulations would lead to more than 10 years of work on ASR Regulations including a Nationwide Survey of ASR Projects and Regualtory Programs for the American Water Works Association, and service on a National Academy of Sciences Study Committee.
After the NAS Study was published, I was contracted by the National Research Council to organize and lead a one-day forum on ASR Policy, Permitting, Planning, and Public Perception - which became my first opportunity to organize and lead a Hybrid Water Education Program with some of our participants joining us remotely as shown above (back in 2008!).
Those early efforts at using internet-based platforms and approaches to bring together experts with the right audience for them - whether that audience was policymakers and permitting staff, prospects and clients, professional peers and team members, or stakeholders and the public.
After that, as I continued to organize an
d lead workshops, seminars, and other programs and events on water issues, I began to ask, "Can we do this online?"
When I created WaterCitizen, the objective was not just to use the internet to BLAST as many "eyeballs" as possible (as most PR, Communications and Marketing professionals do), but to follow the systems and strategies that have been developed and perfected by high-end consultants, coaches, speakers and authors to attract, educate, engage, empower, and enroll their BEST audiences, leading to relationships, revenue, and results - all online!
That's why - starting World Water Day - we are offering Four LIVE Virtual Workshops for Water and Environmental Professionals, Innovators and Civic Leaders on how they can "Engage Online With Ease!"
The "Premiere" of this Workshop is being held on World Water Day (March 22nd). We recognize that this is a busy day for many water leaders, so while we are not planning to release a recording of this interactive and experiential event, we have scheduled FOUR (4) DATES when you can join us for this Live Workshop - at different times to accomodate your schedule and time zone!
In this powerful workshop, I'll share the three most common - and often costly - mistakes water leaders make online - along with simple steps you can take right away so you can approach your next virtual presentation, program or event with confidence and ease, generating relationships, revenue, and resuls!