If No News Is Good News – Then Let’s Work Toward Getting Water out of the News Cycle

A new feature has been added to the Hydrology Corner landing page. We now have a Water News link in the sidebar. Water is in the news every day now but for all the wrong reasons. I am waiting for the day a headline celebrates the first full day without deaths from floods, droughts, or water-borne illnesses anywhere in the world. That day will come when we finally have enough relevant, reliable, discoverable, and accessible data everywhere that is needed to support every water policy, planning, management, engineering design, environmental assessment, and water use decision.

In the meantime, we have lots and lots of bad news.

Water-News-California-DroughtMy interest in the news is in what we can learn from these stories. History repeats itself only if we are passive observers of history. Every tragic story is a lesson. Unfortunately, there is no teacher at the front of the room to explain what the point of the lesson is. We allow history to repeat until we make the effort to discover some aspect of the event that is within our control such that we can alter the course of future history.

In many cases there are important lessons for us in the water monitoring community. How could the outcome have been different if only we had more wisdom or if only we had more funding for water monitoring? What can we learn about network planning? What can we learn about best practices? What can we learn about data sharing? By learning and sharing these lessons, we can, eventually, get water out of the news.

My intention with the Water News link is to provide a comment or a question that I believe is germane to finding the lesson in the story.

The links will not only be to news outlets. Quite often I come across recently published research or standards documents that are relevant to our water monitoring. The water news links give me a way of quickly disseminating links to these documents along with a brief comment explaining why you should be interested.

Please help me out with this. If you come across stories or documents that you think should be shared, please contact me and we can get the word out. If you think some idea in a news item is worthy of expansion into a full blog post then please send me a note.

On another note, if you have enjoyed a blog post I suggest you check from time to time to see if any comments have been added to the post. In most instances the comments are more insightful than the original post. For example, I particularly enjoyed the comments that extended the Zombie Apocalypse post to a discussion of zombie data. Check out the comments here.

2 responses to “If No News Is Good News – Then Let’s Work Toward Getting Water out of the News Cycle”

  1. History repeats itself only because we all form our world views based on our own unique experience base. Only by reading the works of those gone before us do we even know history so as not to repeat it. Even then, we only know “history” by viewing life events through the filter of the author’s own unique experience base. Having written all of this, I now write that water monitoring is fairly new, as scientific data is concerned. Therefore, a “history” of water monitoring would be an interesting and healthy benchmark on which to “back shoot” our current observations and efforts.

    • Hi J.D.
      Well said. Water events become news when natural history collides with human history. For example, floods in ancient Egypt were celebrated because a good flood ensured prosperity. In modern times, floods are feared because of the vulnerability of our developments on floodplains. We have created a vulnerability from ignorance, and perhaps disrespect, for the natural history of the hydrologic cycle. We can learn from the misfortunes of human history and we can learn the mysteries of natural history.

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