By Morgan Spiehs, program associate
For two days in October, Nebraska held the highest concentration of water resource economists in the world. Given the importance of irrigation in Nebraska, the state contains a fair number of them the rest of the year, too.
The annual meeting of the W3190 U.S. Department of Agriculture Multistate Research Committee, “Management and Policy Challenges in a Water-Scarce World,” took place Oct. 13 at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute in Lincoln, with a field trip to Holdrege, Nebraska the following day. The meeting included 22 participants representing a variety of agriculture-related disciplines.
For those of you wondering, the USDA Multistate Research Committees are funded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture and supported by the system of State Agricultural Experiment Stations. The “W” in W3190 means that the committee is managed through the Western U.S. Experiment Stations. The identifying number “3190” is updated every five years and refers to the longevity of the project. The W3190 project started more than 20 years ago, in 1994, and still has several of the original members as participants.
The research committee’s goal is to increase the benefits of limited water resources by conducting research inspired by the needs of water users, managers and policymakers. Nick Brozović, WFI’s director of policy, is a member of the research committee and helped host the meeting.
“W3190 is one of my favorite meetings,” Brozović said. “With committee members from across the U.S., the annual meeting is a great way to learn about new research and policy challenges in agricultural water management, as well as to start new collaborations.”
Mark Eiswerth, 2015-2016 committee chair and professor at the University of Northern Colorado, is confident the group will make great progress toward its goals in terms of research, impacts and accomplishments.
“The fact that we meet together as a group every year really does play a big role in the group’s ongoing success as it allows us to share ideas and explore avenues of potential collaboration,” said Eiswerth. “That personal contact and rapport is tremendously important.”
During the field trip, the group met with Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District personnel, including Jeff Buettner and Marcia Trompke, and toured project sites in the area, including a hydropower plant, innovative center-pivot installations and a sub-surface drip irrigation site. The group also met with the general manager of the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, John Thorburn, and with the owner of Central Valley Irrigation, Monty Vonasek.
“The W3190 annual meeting was a great opportunity to introduce committee members to some of the innovative public and private sector water experts we have in Nebraska,” said Brozović.
Several WFI interns also participated in the meeting and were able to learn about cutting-edge water research and research opportunities around the U.S.
For more information about the project visit: http://www.nimss.org/projects/view/mrp/outline/16396
Morgan Spiehs joined the Water for Food Global Institute in June 2016 to help develop programs focusing on innovative water management for food production, domestically and internationally. She organizes events and recruits, supports and mentors students for research and policy programs. She also produces multimedia content for the institute, among other duties.