May the 4th was a memorable day, not only for Star Wars fans, but also for fans of water data. More than 120 people came together on this day at the New Mexico Water Data Workshop at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, to discuss how to harness the potential of water data, tools, and collaboration to address water related challenges. This workshop, hosted by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, served as a platform for local, regional, state, and federal agencies, and community members to learn and explore innovative ways to enhance how we use water data.
At the core of the workshop was the theme of story-telling in the process of learning about water data and tools. The purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to find water data, network, and learn more about the advancement of the New Mexico Water Data Act. And the stories we can address with these data.
The five state directing agencies required to participate in the New Mexico Water Data Act provided updates on their progress and initiatives related to water data. Presenters at the workshop showcased a variety of tools and their application in water monitoring, accessibility, data collection, and analysis. Participants were exposed to a range of tools that contribute to filling data gaps, accessing data, using data to mitigate and respond to water-related crisis, and generally working more effectively and accurately. Among the tool demonstrations and presentations, Adel Abdallah from Western States Water Council provided a demo of the Western States Water Data Access and Analysis Tool (WestDAAT) application integrating many states water data.
Presentations from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Emily Read and Candice Hopkins provided background on data modernizations efforts underway in the federal agency, at a larger scale comparable to the work New Mexico is working toward. Also, New Mexico Water Data Initiative’s lead developer Jake Ross provided explanation of the processed involved in the “backend plumbing” for the state’s data modernization. All of the presentation slides are available at https://newmexicowaterdata.org/resources/ .
One of the highlights of the workshop was the keynote speech delivered by a charismatic storyteller from the pueblos of Laguna, New Mexico and Hopi-Tewa, Arizona. Eldrena Douma took the attendees on a journey through a compelling story about Josephine Mandamin, an Anishinaabe elder and water activist, who walked thousands of miles around the Great Lakes to raise awareness about water stewardship.
Douma instilled a sense of hope among the participants as she reminded everyone that you’re never too old to start something new. She emphasized the far-reaching effect of work we are doing today on generations yet to come. The work we engage in now holds the power to shape a better future.