Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Water Resources Symposium Recap

Organizers Tolessa Deksissa (left) and Tamin
Younous (right) with Daniel Zarilli 
The UDC Water Resources Research Institute hosted the 2015 National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium on April 10, 2015, at the David A. Clarke School of Law. The symposium, Urban Water Management and Resilience in Uncertain Times, brought together experts from governmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and non-profits to discuss challenges and opportunities for sustainable management of water resources and infrastructure in the region, as well as nationally and internationally.

"Resilience is all about systems, and the particular systems in this region need to function well to be resilient," Dean O'Hara said before conference attendees.

In his keynote address, Daniel Zarrilli, director, Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of New York, noted the similarities between Washington, D.C. and New York City--both being large, steadily growing east coast metropolises, vulnerable to extreme weather.

In addition to the 44 lives lost, Hurricane Sandy constituted a $19 billion loss in economic damage. New York City faces increasing risks from climate change related extreme weather and therefore must plan accordingly to mitigate loss. By 2050, the average temperature is expected to increase from 4.1 - 5.7 degrees, is expected to experience a 4-11% increase in average annual precipitation as well as a 1-2.5 foot rise in sea levels.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York/New Jersey area, New York established the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to address the challenges illuminated by the historical storm: population growth, the impact on the economy, climate change and infrastructure being the most prominent. In essence, "Plan NYC" details how the city will address: 1) Strengthening coastal defenses; 2) Upgrading buildings; 3) Protecting infrastructure and services; and 4) Making neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

Panelists included Ward 3
Couniclmember Mary Cheh
"There is no way to be climate proof in this world, but we can be climate ready," Zarilli explained.

The symposium was co-hosted by the AWRA- NCRS, Institute for Water Resources, and the University of the District of Columbia. The National Capital Region (NCR), encompassing the District of Columbia, and parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, has unique and challenging opportunities for sustainable management of water resources and water infrastructures. Other speakers included: Carolyn Kousky (Resources for the Future), Vicki Arroyo (The Georgetown Climate Center), Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3 Council Member, District of Columbia), and Panel Moderator Roland C. Steiner.

WRRI is part of the Center for Sustainable Development of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences of the University of the District of Columbia. For more information on CAUSES, visit For questions, please contact Dr. Tolessa Deksissa at or (202) 274-5273.

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