Education, Research, and Technology

By Kris Polly 

In the water industry, everything is connected. Ecosystems, hydrology, human activity and history, and legal arrangements all interact to create the distinctive set of water supplies, rights, and usage patterns of each place. With that in mind, constant knowledge-building is a must for water professionals. This month, we bring you the story of one educational effort that seeks to meet that need. 

The Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) has put together a three-course, online-only Water Studies certificate program, intended primarily for working professionals and other nontraditional students. With courses titled Water Law, Colorado Water and the American West, and U.S. Water Concerns, the program provides a broad background in water that will be useful to professionals in many fields. Not only has the university created a course for water professionals, it is also interested in working directly with municipal water agencies and utilities to create programs responding to their needs. 

In our cover interview, Terry Bower, MSU Denver’s associate vice president of innovative and lifelong learning, introduces the Water Studies program. We also have interviews with the professors of two of its three courses: Elizabeth McVicker, who teaches Water Law, and Matt Makley, who teaches Colorado Water and the American West. 

We also bring you a story about a groundbreaking effort to pilot forecast-informed reservoir operations (FIRO) at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Mendocino reservoir in Northern California, which is operated for water conservation and water supply purposes by Sonoma Water. Jay Jasperse of Sonoma Water and Dr. F. Martin “Marty” Ralph of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography tell us about the pilot and how FIRO can help store additional water while still ensuring safe dam operations. 

Finally, we speak with Mike Pearce of SePRO about the new EutroSORB phosphorus filtration bags. These easy-to-deploy bags help prevent eutrophication in streams, canals, storm water drains, and other water bodies and can be safely discarded after use. 

Water professionals are always seeking to better understand water supplies and the technology that can help them better manage this precious resource. Educational programs, important research programs, and the development of new technology are all ways to further this goal. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He can be contacted at