Auburn University Water Resources Center hosted most heavily attended Alabama Water Resources Conference

Published: September 23, 2022

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The annual Alabama Water Resources Conference, or ALWRC, one of the state’s largest and longest-running forums for water resources, garnered record-breaking attendance at this year’s conference.

More than 340 registrants and more than 320 active participants from at least 10 states—more people in nearly 35 years—attended sessions earlier this month at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama. The Auburn University Water Resources Center facilitates the annual event.

The ALWRC provides a platform for water professionals and academics across the Southeast to come together in sharing novel research, programs and outreach methods. The conference features presenters from a broad spectrum of water resources research, management, policy and outreach backgrounds, as well as keynote speakers who are regional and national authorities in water resources.

This year, a highlight was the keynote panel on Blackbelt infrastructure with Daniel Blackman, Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 administrator; Sherry Bradley, director of the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Environmental Services; and Lance LeFleur, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The three-day long event opened with the Alabama Chapter of the American Water Resources’ Symposium. This year’s keynotes highlighted ecological infrastructure and featured speakers Michael Roberts, president of the Coastal Trust, and Judy Haner, marine program director with The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. A follow-up panel discussion on sea level adaptation featured Renee Collini, coastal climate resilience specialist with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium; Leslie Gahagan, environmental director with the City of Foley; and Jeff Collier, mayor of the City of Dauphin Island.

Two days of concurrent sessions allowed presenters to share information about emerging research, interagency programs and funding opportunities. Over 120 concurrent session speakers and 38 poster presenters created a new record for information transfer at the conference.

The ALWRC provides opportunities for conversation about multidisciplinary aspects of water resources and connects stakeholders to improve understanding of complex water issues important to this state, the region and the nation and is planned in conjunction with a multi-agency committee and the Alabama Chapter of the American Water Resources Association.

Several students at Auburn University received awards for their oral and poster presentations. Winners of the student competitions were as follows:

Oral Competition

First Place: Benjamin Webster, Auburn (Department of Crop, Soils and Environmental Sciences)

Second Place: Giacomo DeLuca II, University of South Alabama (School of Marine and Environmental Sciences)

Third Place: Anna Powell, Auburn (Department of Crop, Soils and Environmental Sciences)

Poster Competition

First Place: Danyal Aziz, University of Alabama (Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering)

Second Place: Kelly Kaye, Auburn (Department of Geosciences)

Third Place: Mehrzad Shahidzadehasadi, Auburn (Department of Biosystems Engineering)

The 2023 ALWRC will be held Sept. 6-8 at the Perdido Beach Resort. More information can be found at the Auburn University Water Resources Center webpage.

The mission of the Auburn University Water Resources Center is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among Auburn faculty and staff on water-related research, outreach and instruction; conduct innovative research to find practical solutions for current and future water issues and empower private citizens to become active stewards of water resources.