USU’s 2015 Spring Runoff Conference is next week

LOGAN – Anne Castle, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, headlines a slate of top water leaders presenting at Utah State University’s 11th annual Spring Runoff Conference March 31-April 1 at the university’s Eccles Conference Center.

The two-day gathering, coordinated by the USU Water Initiative, features the tandem symposia, “Water Body Connectivity and the Clean Water Act” and “Environmental Flows in a Time of Drought.”

“This year, we take on two of the nation’s most critical water issues,” says Chuck Hawkins, professor in USU’s Department of Watershed Sciences and USU Ecology Center, who serves as conference chair. “We’re hosting a range of renowned water scientists and engineers to probe these topics.”

Keynote speaker for the gathering is Lynn Ingram, professor of earth and planetary science and geography at the University of California, Berkeley, who presents “The West without Water,” Wednesday, April 1, at noon. in the ECC Auditorium. Her talk, held in conjunction with USU Natural Resources Week, is open to the public.

Student participation in the two-day gathering is free but all participants must register. Cost to professionals is $100. Online registration is available at

“During this Year of Water at USU, we invite involvement from professionals, faculty and students,” Hawkins says. “The purpose of the conference is to share diverse water research across disciplinary boundaries.

Special to this year’s gathering is a screening of the 2013 feature documentary “Watermark” Tuesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in the ECC Auditorium. Produced by filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier and photographer Edward Burtynsky, the award-winning film features stories from around the globe of people’s relationship with water. The screening, free and open to the public, is hosted by USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art and the Utah Film Center.

In addition to Castle and Ingram, conference speakers include Hawkins, Robert Alder, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah; Laurie Alexander, National Center for Environmental Assessment; Walt Baker, Utah Department of Environmental Quality; Hans Paerl, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Taylor Hawes, The Nature Conservancy; Don Ostler, Upper Colorado River Commission; Jennifer Pitt, Environmental Defense; Clint Alexander, ESSA Ltd.; Kevin Bestgen, Colorado State University; Katrina Grantz, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Carly Jerla, Colorado River Supply and Demand Study, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Jack Schmidt, USU Department of Watershed Sciences.

This year’s conference is sponsored by the Utah Water Research Laboratory of USU’s College of Engineering, the Quinney College of Natural Resources, USU’s Department of Watershed Sciences, the USU Ecology Center and iUTAH.

Established in 2003, the USU Water Initiative fosters multi-disciplinary sharing of water-related research and ideas throughout the campus and community.

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