2021 Virtual Annual Water Resources Conference: Field Trips

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To join any of the virtual field trips, please add them to your conference registration.

Virtual Field Trip 1: Estero River, an outstanding natural resource in rapidly-growing Southwest Florida suburbia, with headwaters protected by FGCU’s campus
Wednesday, November 10 | 12:00 PM ET

The Estero River is an outstanding natural resource in a densely populated region, draining a small coastal watershed in southwestern Florida. The Estero’s headwaters are dispersed across low flat former wetlands, filled by an average 54 inches of rainfall and a wet season that raises the water table to generate seasonal standing surface wetlands – before most of those were ditched, drained, filled and elevated for suburban land uses. The dispersed headwaters include the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University, whose 400 acres include some 200 acres of preserved wetlands, and with stormwater management practiced so that ponds, wetlands, and pervious surfaces blunt the peak of most storms’ hydrographs to such an extent that nearly no water left campus even after the one-day 8-inch rainfall of Hurricane Irma in 2017. From its upstream origins the river gathers in multiple drain pipes and roadside channels to become a defined stream only some 10 miles from the ocean, and the intense residential, commercial, and transportation land uses contribute water quality challenges including bacteria, nutrients, and metals. Regulations have identified the Estero River as impaired for several constituents, and local municipalities have engaged FGCU and regional consulting engineers and hydrologists to characterize problems, identify sources, and begin a process of planning to restore water quality. The River is tidal for nearly all its length, so that understanding sources, transport, and fate of pollutants is a fascinating complex challenge to consider tidal mixing combined with episodic, diverse, and highly variable source activities. The river discharges into Estero Bay, home to wading and nesting birds; productive feeding ground for migrating manatees; spawning grounds for countless marine fishes; and host to hundreds of acres of shellfish. Estero Bay is designated an Outstanding Florida Water – with regulatory protections specifying no degradation in water quality, a challenge in the densely developed watershed. Estero Bay’s shorelines includes multiple protected areas, a success story for conservation since the 1970s when development intensified in the region, but the privately held portions of the shore are under development pressure, and the shallow-water seagrasses are sharply declining in a trend all too common in southwest Florida estuaries). The Estero Bay’s natural beauty, little diminished to the observer’s eye, is a visual treat for the field trip, belying the risk of continuing degradation as the local stakeholders work to protect and restore the Bay and its tributary waters.

Speakers on the video include: experts on the Estero Bay ecosystem (Ms. Kelly Dino, graduate student and boat captain, and Dr. Win Everham, ecologist specializing in mangrove resilience); experts on watershed development and water quality (Dr. Don Duke, Dr. Serge Thomas, and Kelly Dino, researchers studying fecal bacteria in urban systems); and experts on hydrology in the watershed, especially the FGCU campus (Dr. Rachel Rotz, FGCU hydrogeologist, and Roger Copp, hydrologist modeling south Lee County including the Estero’s groundwater system).

Field trip video by: The Water School, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU)

Technical presentation / Q &A by:
  • L. Donald Duke, Ph.D., P.E., Professor, Water Resources, FGCU
  • Rachel Rotz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Hydrogeology, FGCU
  • Kelly Dino, M.S. Environmental Studies candidate, FGCU
  • Madison Mullen, M.S. Environmental Studies candidate, FGCU

Virtual Field Trip 2: The River That Made Seattle - A Virtual Cultural and Environmental Tour of The Duwamish River
Wednesday, November 10 | 12:30 PM ET

The Duwamish River flows through the center of Seattle and Pacific Northwest culture, ecology, and history. Winding its way from the glaciers of Mt. Rainier to Puget Sound, the historic Duwamish River watershed encompasses not only great geographic breadth and dynamic hydrology, but provides a container for stories of ecological change, industrial contamination, cultural upheaval, environmental justice, and urban development. Human-caused hydrologic changes to the rivers flow, large and often inequitable growth of Seattle and the NW economy, years of industrial contamination and Superfund cleanup efforts, the disruption of native Duwamish culture, and the challenges of environmental justice for the Duwamish people and local immigrant communities, are deeply entwined in the efforts to restore the river and its natural and human communities.

Join us for a (virtual) tour of the Duwamish River, it’s history, people, challenges and hopes. Through participation in a virtual flyover of the river, you will follow the topographical and historical flow of the river from its source on Mt. Rainier through it’s original and modified watershed, and participate in efforts to cleanup and restore the river and the communities that surround it. Interspersed with historical and current stories, photos and video, you will see the river from multiple perspectives, from kayaks and skiffs to community gatherings and interviews.

Your guides will include:

  • BJ Cummings, author of the book The River That Made Seattle and a recognized expert on the Duwamish through her years of work as the Puget Soundkeeper and leadership of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition’s (DRCC) Superfund cleanup efforts,
  • James Rasmussen, an elder of the Duwamish Tribe and Superfund Manager for DRCC, and
  • David Sale, a systems ecologist who has reviewed Duwamish River science and worked with multiple state and federal agencies and the DRCC in developing cleanup plans.



Register for Conference

All conference participants (presenters, moderators, panelists, etc.) must register at the appropriate registration rate. AWRA Gateway members are not eligible for discounted conference rates. The registration fees are the major source of funding for the Conference, and the sharing of registrations is prohibited - every person attending the conference must register. For presenters, if two or more individuals will be presenting, each individual must register for the conference. This includes: all technical session presenters; all panel session presenters; and all poster session presenters.

Speaker Registration Forgiveness Application. AWRA staff and the conference planning committee know that certain presenters may need registration forgiveness to participate in an AWRA event. The 2021 Annual Water Resources Conference Planning Committee has a limited number of registrations they can offer and have the right to accept or deny a forgiveness request. Requests must be submitted by June 21, 2021. Click here for application details.

Cancelations must be made in writing. Refunds are not allowed for Super Saver Rates. We can transfer your registration to someone else by October 12, 2021. Those cancelations received by October 12, 2021 will be subject to a processing fee of 25% of total fees. No refunds will be given after October 12, 2021 - no exceptions! Abstract submission fees are nonrefundable. Refunds will be processed after the conclusion of the conference.



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