Dr. Harry Zhang has been appointed a voting member for the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) by the Secretary of U.S. Department of Interior. ACWI is a forum to help government leaders better understand the macro-scale drivers and trends related to water resources and water quality management.

By: Harry Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., CH2M HILL Principal Technologist

It is a great honor for me to serve as one of 30 voting members for the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) for the third consecutive term, as appointed by the Secretary of U.S. Department of Interior. Representing the American Water Resources Association (AWRA), it is a pleasure to continuously serve in this high-level federal advisory committee relating to water information and water resources management.

The coverage of ACWI relates to various business areas by the company, especially in the field of water resources, groundwater, and water sustainability. Therefore, I wanted to share a brief overview of ACWI, its functions and activities and how ACWI can provide a conduit for companies and government leaders to better understand the macro-scale drivers and trends for water resources and water quality management, at both national and regional scales.

What is ACWI?

ACWI advises the U.S. Federal Government with purpose to improve water information for key decision makers in terms of natural resources management and environmental protection. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum No. 92-01 designates the Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as the lead agency. Other Federal organizations that fund, collect, or use water resources information work together with the USGS to implement program recommendations.

ACWI’s purpose is to represent the interests of water-information users and professionals in advising the Federal Government on Federal water-information programs and the effectiveness in meeting the nation’s water-information needs. Member organizations help foster communications between the Federal and non-Federal sectors to share water information.

What is the Coverage of ACWI Membership?

ACWI currently has a maximum of 35 member agencies and organizations, who are voting members within the ACWI structure. Below is a list of ACWI memberships that represent diverse interests.

Federal

  • U.S. Department of the Interior (e.g. USGS, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (e.g. Office of Water)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of Department of Commerce (e.g. National Weather Service, National Ocean Service)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (e.g. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Tennessee Valley Authority

Regional, State, and Local

  • Association of State Floodplain Managers
  • Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
  • Association of State Drinking Water Administrators
  • National Association of Clean Water Agencies
  • Association of Clean Water Administrators
  • National Association of County Planners
  • Association of American State Geologists
  • Interstate Council on Water Policy
  • Western States Water Council

Industry

  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • National Council of the Paper Industry for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc.

Academia

  • Universities Council on Water Resources

Professional Associations

  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Water Resources Association
  • American Water Works Association
  • National Ground Water Association
  • Ground Water Protection Council
  • North American Lake Management Society
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Water Environment Federation

What are ACWI’s Subcommittees?

ACWI has several subcommittees and/or councils; each focuses on specific subject areas:

(1) Subcommittee on Climate Change Adaptation to Water Resources. This is the newest ACWI subcommittee created to address the issues on climate change adaptation to water resources.  The recent effort by this subcommittee includes preparation of a draft report entitled “Next Steps for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate:  A Report of the Water Resources Adaptation to Climate Change Workgroup to the Advisory Committee on Water Information”.

(2) National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC). NWQMC’s objective is to provide national coordination on improving water-quality monitoring in the U.S. and to develop water-quality information standards through the Methods and Data Comparability Board.

A related effort on water quality is through national liaison committee for National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA), with an objective to create an ongoing national liaison process for external organizations to work interactively with NAWQA in joint problem solving on water quality issues.

(3) Subcommittee on Hydrology (SOH). SOH’s objective is to improve the availability and reliability of surface-water quantity information needed for hazard mitigation, water supply and demand management, and environmental protection.

(4) Subcommittee on Sedimentation (SOS).  SOS’s objective is to promote and support the development and standardization of equipment, methodologies, calibration, and performance criteria fluvial-sediment data and related technical information.

(5) Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW).  SOGW’s objective is to develop and encourage implementation of a nationwide, long term ground water quantity and quality monitoring framework that would provide information necessary for the planning, management, and development of ground-water supplies to meet current and future water needs, and ecosystem requirements.

(6) Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR).  SWRR’s objective is to serve as a forum to share information and perspectives that will promote better decision making in the U.S. regarding the sustainable development of our nation’s water resources.

What are the Benefits for Participation in the ACWI?

ACWI provides a great venue to interact with multiple government agencies who have oversight responsibility on water programs at national and regional levels.  For example, the program officers from EPA’s Office of Water (e.g. on watershed protection), Bureau of Reclamation (e.g. western water issues), NOAA (e.g. on climate change), Army Corps of Engineers (e.g. on hydrology issues relating to civil works) and Tennessee Valley Authority are at the ACWI annual meeting every year. In addition, representatives from private sectors such as Electric Power Research Institute (e.g. on water and energy nexus) and NCASI (e.g. on numeric nutrient criteria) also participates in the ACWI meetings and its subcommittees. Various well-known national professional and/or trade associations (e.g. WEF, AWWA, AWRA, ASCE, NACWA, and ASFPM) have active participation in the ACWI as well.

Participating in the ACWI can help you and your organization better understand the macro-scale drivers and trends for water resources and water quality management at both national and large regional scales (e.g. Mississippi river basin, Chesapeake Bay watershed, Great Lakes region).  Furthermore, it can help enhance your organization’s brand related to water resources and water sustainability by increasing your presence at ACWI’s annual meeting and activities by its subcommittees.

Interested in Getting More Information?

Please feel free to contact Harry Zhang ([email protected]), if you are interested in getting more information on ACWI or have any questions about the benefits of becoming a member. You can also find valuable information on the ACWI website.

Dr. Harry Zhang is a Principal Technologist in CH2M HILL’s Chantilly, Virginia, office and the Industrial Water Resources Lead within the Industrial, Energy and Mining (IEM) Division of CH2M HILL’s Water Market.  Dr. Zhang serves as subject matter expert and provides key technical support & leadership on water quality modeling & monitoring, watershed management, TMDLs, H&H analysis, NPDES permitting, and stormwater services for federal, municipal and industrial projects.  He provided multi-year watershed/TMDLs/water quality technical support & project management for EPA HQ and states in all 10 EPA regions under USEPA National Watershed Protection Program. He also serves as CH2M HILL’s technical program lead for USEPA’s Technical Support for Assessment and Watershed Protection (TSAWP).  Dr. Zhang is the chair of Hydrology & Watershed Management Committee at American Water Resources Association.