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Current policies cannot stabilise the Colorado River in face of ongoing megadrought

OWN member, Dr Kevin Wheeler, publish a new article in Science Magazine, titled “What will it take to stabilize the Colorado River?”

Download the article here: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abo4452

Read the Oxford Martin School’s recent article that featuring this Science publication: Current policies cannot stabilise the Colorado River in face of ongoing megadrought

“An ongoing megadrought, impacts of climate change and systematic overuse have created a crisis for the Colorado River, an essential water source for 40 million inhabitants of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The current policies and international agreements governing this river are insufficient to maintain secure water supplies, concludes a commentary published today in the journal Science from the University of Oxford, Utah State University and Colorado State University.”

The New York Times has also recently published a great piece on the topic related to this Science article: A Painful Deadline Nears as Colorado River Reservoirs Run Critically Low

Many Congratulations!

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OWN Sessions at the AGU Fall Meeting – Now accepting abstracts!

OXFORD – July 2022

The AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall meeting will be held in Chicago and online from 12-16 December 2022. The AGU Fall meeting is the world’s most prominent Earth and space science event, bringing together research communities to advance science and create impact. This year the theme of the meeting is ‘Science leads the future.’ OWN members and collaborators are convening two sessions that focus on pathways for better science-based decision-making. One session will focus on the nexus of water, health and climate change. The second focuses on citizen science water quality monitoring.

Abstract submission is open! Any questions about the sessions can be directed to OWN co-chair Dr Saskia Nowicki (saskia.nowicki@ouce.ox.ac.uk). Note that the conference is hybrid, so presenters will have the option to present in-person or online. The conference registration fee will be waived for residents of lower-income and lower-middle-income countries.

GeoHealth Session GH022 – Water and health in a volatile climate: science-based strategies for equitable well-being in a water secure future
Deadline for abstract submissions: Aug 3.
Submit here: https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm22/prelim.cgi/Session/160329

Session description: Global health is inextricably linked to water security, which is jeopardised by climate change. Research is needed to understand the severity and distribution of health risks as water demand and contamination pressures are compounded by the intensifying water cycle. Reliance on groundwater, for example, is central in climate-resilient water supply strategies. Yet groundwater geochemistry, salinity, and pollution risks are not sufficiently evidenced nor accounted for in policy – particularly in lower income settings. This session seeks interdisciplinary research that focuses on the complex intersection of climate change, water (in)security, and health. Following the AGU22 ‘Science Leads the Future’ theme, research presented in this session will support the inclusion of water-related health risk management in key global agendas: for example, those that focus on climate-resilient water services, net zero energy transitions, adaptation financing, and biodiversity restoration. Presentations will also indicate research priorities by outlining the limitations of evidence in this space.

Convened by OWN Co-chair Dr Saskia Nowicki from the University of Oxford, REACH programme collaborators Dr Florence Tanui from the University of Nairobi, Dr Behailu Birhanu from Addis Ababa University, and Dr May Sule from Cranfield University.

Innovation Session – Technologies & Approaches for Decentralized Water Quality Monitoring with Citizen Engagement.
Deadline for abstract submissions: Aug 17.
Link to session description and to submit is here: https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm22/prelim.cgi/Session/158916

Session Description: Many citizens have a close relationship with their local water bodies, e.g. they use them for drinking water for themselves and their livestock, for crop irrigation, and for fishing as a source of food or recreation. Therefore, engaging citizens in monitoring their local water bodies can provide them with the knowledge and information to take an active role in preserving water quality at community level, and at national and regional level by providing additional data and information that can support policy and management. Despite significant progress and increased prevalence of citizen science projects for water management, mixed results are still observed. A large question is whether data acquired via CS programs can be of substantial enough quality to serve different purposes from regulatory surveillance to operational decision-making. For CS to be useful, rigor as well as data-validation tools need to be incorporated. Elements of participant social identity (e.g., their motivation for participation), and contextual knowledge (e.g., of the research program itself) can shape participation and resulting data outcomes). As such, the success of the data collection is not solely dependent on the technology, but also on the recruiting strategy and program structure. The aim of the hereby proposed session is to explore technological and institutional success factors to guide the development of decentralized water quality monitoring programs that engage citizens.

Convened by José Monge Castro, a student in the University of Oxford’s MSc Water Science, Policy and Management programme, OWN Co-chair Dr. Saskia Nowicki, and Javier Mateo-Sagasta from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

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Good Luck with your exams – WSPM 2021-2022 Cohort

Despite the fact that the year has started in the pandemic, and the Michaelmas and Hilary terms are passed, the Trinity term exam season is approaching. Since 2004, students from all over the world have taken the master’s degree examination in Water Science, Policy, and Management (WSPM) every spring/summer.

We understand that studying for examinations might be difficult at this time. As a WSPM alumnus, I recall the stressful moments of revising for the three exams: Water Science, Water and Society, and Water Management. It was challenging and required hard work to go through old questions and brainstorm to answer and frame the arguments by using previous exam sheets, compiling case studies to support the arguments, and structuring the exam essays within the given time frame. But, in the end, we were able to complete the exams successfully. Remember to take a deep breath and believe in yourself, as many alumni have done before you. We all have faith in you.

We wish you the best of luck for the exam week.

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Introducing the new OWN Leadership Team

Earlier this year, Louise Slater and Kathryn Pharr, the Oxford Water Network (OWN) chair and coordinator respectively, stepped down from their positions. After three years at the helm, Louise is stepping back to focus on her research on Dynamic Drivers of Flood Risks , while Kathryn has taken up the role of Senior Policy Analyst for International Climate Action with WaterAid. On behalf of OWN, we want to thank them for the excellent work they did shaping and leading the network.

We are pleased to introduce the new team leading the network: Katrina Charles and Saskia Nowicki are co-chairing OWN, and Pan Ei Ei Phyoe has taken up the coordinator role.

Dr Katrina Charles‘ research focuses on environmental health risks, using interdisciplinary approaches to analyse how we construct our understanding of environmental health risks, and how to communicate those risks to affect change. With her research team, which includes expertise in water quality, health and social sciences, and through partnerships with UNICEF and governments, she is leading work on drinking water quality and climate resilience that will help progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal for safe drinking water quality for all (SDG 6.1). Katrina has a track record in delivering real-world impact advancing water security through large interdisciplinary programmes, such as REACH and Water Security Hub. She aims to ensure that OWN is supporting Oxford’s water researchers to achieve impact through strengthening relationships with partners policy and practice.

“I am excited to bring my experience of developing science-practitioner partnerships to the network, to support and promote the role that Oxford research has in tackling global challenges in water security, from the SDGs to climate adaptation.”

 

Saskia Nowicki works on environmental health risks and management trade-offs. She applies an interdisciplinary systems-based approach to research, drawing on her background in environmental science, with specialisation in water security. Her postdoctoral work with the REACH water security programme focuses on drinking-water safety in low-income contexts. She is working on collaborative projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh – using mixed-methods to seek insight for systems change at scale.  Saskia joined the OWN in 2015 when she arrived at the School of Geography and the Environment (SOGE) for her MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management (WSPM). During her DPhil, she joined the leadership team as the early career researcher representative. Now, with her role as co-chair, she is working to encourage engagement in the network and foster connections across the social and physical sciences.

“Water is an inherently interdisciplinary topic and everyone who works in this space deals with systemic complexity in some form. With the OWN we can foster knowledge exchange and collaboration to better engage with this complexity.”

Given her background in engineering, Pan Ei Ei Phyoe is passionate about bridging the gap between water research and technology and broader policy goals, and she is particularly interested in the links between water systems and climate change. She finally completed her MSc in Water Science, Policy, and Management at the University of Oxford, where she focused on the climate communication network and how it affects water management decisions in the Turkwel river basin in Kenya. She also earned a master’s degree in water resources engineering from the University of Stuttgart, where she focused on reservoir management, notably numerical modelling of the Schwarzenbach hydroelectric dam’s hydrodynamic system. As part of her policy consulting work with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, she is currently supporting the organisation of the first-ever historical water and climate pavilion during COP26 in Glasgow. She’d previously worked on integrated water resources management (IWRM) projects in Myanmar, the Netherlands, and the UK.

“Water has always been an interdisciplinary subject and a connector that intertwines all sectors. The OWN can serve as a collaborative and bridging environment, with excellent networks and connections, providing access and opportunities to all of the university’s cutting-edge science, technology, innovative policies, and practical solutions in water-related research and education.”

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Passing of Dr Jill Crossman OUCE (2010-2017)

Co-Director of the NERC Macronutrients Programme – Oxford Directorate

I’m writing today to share some very sad news. As some of you already have heard, our friend and colleague Dr Jill Crossman passed away suddenly and far too young on last Saturday, September 11.

Jill was a driving force in Oxford helping me to direct the NERC funded Macronutrient Cycles  Programme. This programme involved 12 university groups and 4 NERC Institutes with over 120 Staff involved ranging from senior Professors to Post Docs and PhD Students, plus many Policy People from DEFRA, the UK Environment Agency and the Scottish and Welsh Governments. There was also an international advisory committee and a team from NERC. Jill helped coordinate the programme and organize many fascinating science meetings and policy groups, held mainly in the SoGe Department or in St Peters College. Despite her young age at the time, nothing fazed her and she was super-efficient and incredibly helpful to all the researchers and staff involved.

Jill was a funny and lovely person and an astute scientist. She was preparing the paperwork for promotion to associate professor at the University of Windsor in Canada, had won some major grants for environmental research in the areas of microplastics and eutrophication. Jill published widely (see her last publication https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/13/5/723 – a major intellectual and multidisciplinary contribution). Many of her colleagues and friends have been shocked at her early passing. Jill was always happiest surrounded by a bunch of scientists, talking non-stop and enjoying the odd glass of wine. The world will not be the same without her.

 

RIP Jill!

Prof Paul Whitehead

Macronutrient Cycles and School of Geography and the Environment

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Sayers’ work on Nature-Based Solutions in Russia

Recently, Paul Sayers has secured funding to explore the nature-based solutions (NBS) opportunities across Russia. As part of this work, he presented on 12 November at the ‘Nature-based solutions: the IUCN global standards and programmes in Russia’ workshop. Other participants included Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation Deborah Bronnert CMG, the Minister for Pacific and the Environment Lord Zac Goldsmith, and experts from IUCN, WWF Russia, UNIDO and UNEP.

To learn more about NBS in Russia, you can view the event here:

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DAWN – Digital Africa Water Network 

The Digital Africa Water Network (DAWN), a UKRI programme led by the University of Oxford, brings service providers, universities and enabling organisations together to explore the potential for digital technology to accelerate the development of water services in rural Africa, where over 50% of the population are without even basic drinking water. In November, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment hosted three DAWN workshops focusing on what digital approaches can do to a) develop innovative finance and business models for sustainable service delivery (led by Alex Money and Rob Hope); b) standardize water service performance measurement and verification (led by Patrick Thomson and Duncan McNicholl; c) enhance accountability in the water sector and inform useful government and institutional reform (led by Johanna Koehler and Rob Hope). DAWN is currently funded via a Phase I Digital Innovation for Development in Africa grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund. For further information, contact dawn@smithschool.ox.ac.uk