Abstracts

The Mississippi Water Security Institute: Report on Year 1; Plans for Year 2

Author(s): Ochs, C.; Young, D.; Sullivan-Gonzalez, D.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Ancient Greeks considered these the essentials to support life on earth - a wise observation. From Earth, nourishment is derived. From Air are provided the gases of respiration. From the Fire of our Sun we are bathed in the catalytic energy necessary for complex organization. But only where there is also Water can we “live long and prosper.” In May 2016, we completed the first workshop of the Mississippi Water Security Institute (MS WSI). Our purpose was to introduce undergraduate honors students to the challenges and complexities of how we use and manage the state’s water resources to meet present and future needs. The 2016 MS WSI involved 16 students from four Mississippi universities. The regional focus in our first year was on the Mississippi Delta, a place of great importance to the state’s economy but also of striking contrasts – high agricultural production at the expense of enormous resource use; an historically wet wilderness with only remnants remaining outside the levees; islands of economic prosperity in a sea of rural poverty; where water seems inexhaustible but in fact can be consumed faster than it is replenished. Over our two-week Institute, we investigated the means by which we might use water in this vast region to jointly promote broad economic development, and human community health, while supporting ecosystem health. We were visited by numerous speakers representing different areas of expertise related to water use and management, from farming to law to conservation, and we made several field trips to sites of interest in the Mississippi Delta. In this talk, we will present outcomes of student learning from the 2016 workshop, and discuss plans for the upcoming 2017 MS WSI workshop on urban water systems in Mississippi.

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