A WRRC Retrospective: Looking Back at 2021

Dec. 17, 2021
As this year comes to a close, we would like to reflect on our work in the context of its unprecedented events. In 2021, the US Bureau of Reclamation declared a Tier 1 Shortage on the Colorado River—a historic moment that generated international media attention and many requests to the WRRC for comment. As climate change, drought, and water scarcity challenges mounted, public engagement in water conversations became more important than ever.
Over the past year, we hosted 19 Brown Bag webinars covering a wide range of water topics that featured local, state, regional, and international speakers, and our audiences continued to grow. We also hosted an international webinar on Managed Aquifer Recharge in celebration of World Water Day and co-sponsored the Water Solutions for Our Warmer World webinar series with the Arizona Institutes for Resilience and the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. Our annual conference, Tribal Water Resilience in a Changing Environment, attracted the largest audience to date, with nearly 800 attendees joining virtually from 22 countries, 27 states, 14 Arizona counties, and more than 40 Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities.
Programs such as the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment and Water Resources Research Institute were reinvigorated, and new projects expanding our engagement and outreach efforts charted substantial progress. The Water RAPIDS team continued helping communities throughout AZ build capacity for water resources and watershed planning. Collaborative efforts in the Globe-Miami area of southern Gila County culminated in a public forum on wildfire. Other collaborations included continuing research activities with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy and new projects with the UArizona Climate Assessment for the Southwest program, Town of Superior Queen Creek Working Group, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. More information about all our programs can be found here.
Beyond these activities, our director, Sharon B. Megdal, had an exceptionally busy year. In 2021, she authored 20 publications and spoke at 55 events. Additionally, Megdal was interviewed by several media outlets regarding the Tier 1 Shortage and other water topics and was quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and BBC World News TV Live, among other news sources.
Following a remarkable year, all of us at the WRRC look forward to continued community engagement in 2022. 
Image: Cave Creek, Sandy Shiloh, WRRC 2020 Photo Contest