What About Water? with Jay Famiglietti

Global Institute for Water Security


"What About Water" connects water science with the stories that bring about solutions, adaptations & actions for the world's water realities. Hosted by Jay Famiglietti and presented by the Global Institute for Water Security and The Walrus Lab. Formerly known as "Let's Talk About Water".

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63 episodes

World Water Day 2023 with Autumn Peltier

When Autumn Peltier was eight, she learned the tap water on a neighbouring reserve wasn’t safe to drink, or even to use for hand-washing. That injustice triggered her decade-long advocacy campaign for safe drinking water. She made headlines as a 12 year-old, admonishing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an Assembly of First Nations event for the choices his government had made for her people.    In this bonus episode for World Water Day 2023, Peltier and Jay discuss the way her life shifted, as she started campaigning for clean water. Peltier also shares what it was like to shoot her documentary and lets us in on her plans for the future now that she’s finished high school.    On a day devoted to improving the way we manage, consume, and use water, the message is ‘Be The Change’ – something Peltier takes to heart. Two billion people still live without clean water, and the United Nations says member countries have fallen behind on their goal to bring everyone safe water and sanitation by the year 2030.   “The message is so much more powerful and so much more stronger when it's coming from a young person,” said Peltier, the chief water commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation. “That's when you know something is wrong, and something has to be done.”  

Mar 22
Will Sarni: Can We Tech Our Way Out of Wicked Water Problems?

Can we really “tech” our way out of freshwater shortages, scarcity, and pollution? In our Season 4 finale, we’re asking the big question of the season – will new water technology be enough to solve wicked water problems? Will Sarni joins Jay for a look back at the bright ideas and inventions we’ve heard about this year, sharing his view on technology’s ability to solve problems around water quality and scarcity.    Jay and Will discuss what a “disruptor” like Uber could do for the water sector and what it will take to get the public sector to respond to innovation. And if you’ve ever wondered why piping water from a wet part of the country to areas hit by drought is a hot-button issue, you’ll want to stick around for our last ‘Ask Jay’ segment of the season.   Will Sarni is the CEO of Water Foundry and the founder and general partner of Water Foundry Ventures, a technology venture fund focused on addressing water scarcity, quality and equitable access to water. Will is a podcaster, an internationally recognized thought leader on water strategy and innovation, and the author of numerous books. You can check out his children’s book, Water, I Wonder here.   

Mar 01
What Lurks Beneath: How Robots Can Save City Plumbing with Vanessa Speight

In this episode, we’re going underground, undersea and into your water and sewer pipelines with science fiction’s favorite problem-solvers…robots! Jay sits down with Vanessa Speight, a professor of Integrated Water Systems at the University of Sheffield, to learn how new, spider-like robots have the potential to locate and fix leaks in aging water pipes.    Jay and Vanessa discuss when we might actually see these pipe-traveling bots in action and what they can realistically do for developing nations, where drinking water loss can be as much as 70 per cent due to aging and unmaintained systems.    In our Last Word, professor Lucian Busoniu tells us about SeaClear https://seaclear-project.eu/, a project funded by the European Union, building the first fleet of autonomous robots to collect litter from the ocean floor.   

Feb 15
An AI Fix for Aging Water Systems with Seyi Fabode

On this episode of an entrepreneur in Austin, Texas turns his dishwasher sensor into a tech startup that’s feeding water utilities snapshots of their water quality in real time.   Jay sits down with Seyi Fabode, the CEO and co-founder of Varuna, to discuss how his company’s cloud-based software is helping cities keep track of their drinking water quality by the minute, allowing them to respond to spills, contamination, and fluctuations it’s too late.    Jay and Seyi dream up a new tech idea together and trace Seyi’s entrepreneurial roots from his childhood in Nigeria to his post-grad in the UK. They discuss the $100,000 investment from the Google for Startups Black Founder Fund that opened new doors for Varuna, and what needs to change to get more black-owned businesses like Seyi’s off the ground.  At the end of the episode Jay answers a few questions about the Tri-State Water Wars and water privatization from our listener Mark, who’s based in Atlanta, Georgia. Got a question for Jay? Write to him at ideas@whataboutwater.org and you may hear your question in an upcoming episode. Voice memos like Mark’s are also welcome!

Feb 01
Chemical Cocktails: What’s in our Groundwater? with John Cherry

If it’s not stuck in glaciers or polar ice, 99 per cent of the world’s freshwater is groundwater. Water underground supplies nearly half of the world’s drinking water. But what happens when dangerous chemicals and waste – polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), oil, gasoline and road salts – percolate down into that supply?    On this episode of Jay sits down with the father of contaminant hydrogeology, Dr. John Cherry, to talk about the water under our feet, and how we can better monitor it. In the 1970s, Cherry wrote the foundational textbook on groundwater with his colleague, Al Freeze. And we hear how one of his students paved the path for his successful career in the field. To find out what’s actually being done to stop industry polluters from dispersing PFAS chemicals into our waterways, producer Erin Stephens speaks with Marc Yaggi, CEO of the global nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance. Yaggi shares what Waterkeeper is advocating for in Congress, brands eliminating PFAS from their production lines, and how everyone can get involved in the effort to get these “forever chemicals” out of our rivers. Check out their surface water quality survey here https://waterkeeper.org/pfas/ to learn more. Got a question for Jay? Write to us at ideas@whataboutwater.org and you may hear your question in an upcoming episode. Voice memos are also welcome! 

Jan 18
Dirty Laundry: Water and the World of Fast Fashion

Call the fashion police! In this special holiday edition of we dive into the apparel industry’s dirty secret: its water use. Behind oil and gas, fashion is the single most polluting industry on the planet. It accounts for 8 per cent of all carbon emissions and 20 per cent of global wastewater. We start by catching up with shoppers at the Picker’s Hullabaloo Flea Market in Charleston, South Carolina. They tell us about the clothes on their wish lists this year and why they choose to shop second-hand. Jay talks water overuse and about changes for garment designers and manufacturers with Andrea Kennedy, Vice-President of Sustainability for Material Exchange. From Shein to Patagonia, Jay and Andrea dive into the pollution “fast fashion” creates, as well as the certifications and brands you can look out for when you’re trying to shop more sustainably. Charleston vendor Madeline of Gaia’s Hearth shares the secrets to her natural dyeing process: backyard plants, recycled water and a giant lobster pot. We also turn to two technologies that are paving the way for sustainable textile production at-scale.    Ernst Siewers, Chief Technology Officer of DyeCoo https://dyecoo.com/, tells us about his groundbreaking invention - the world’s first waterless textile dyeing machine. We also hear from Shahriare Mahmood, Chief Sustainability Officer for Spinnova https://spinnova.com/. This Finnish company is harnessing the secrets of spiders to spin natural textile fibres out of wood pulp without using any harmful chemicals. This process uses minimal water and creates zero waste.  That’s it from us at for 2022! We’re taking a holiday break, but we’ll be back January 18 with some exciting news and a brand new episode for you. Got ideas for the show?  Something you’d like to ask Jay? Write to us or send a voice memo to ideas@whataboutwater.org.

Dec 21, 2022
Into Thin Air: A Smarter Way to Water Crops, with A.J. Purdy

How can we measure water when it disappears into thin air? On this episode of we’re looking at evapotranspiration, or “ET” for short. It’s the combination of water evaporating from the soil, combined with the measure of water transpiring through crops’ leaves. Accounting for this water loss helps farmers know exactly how much water they should apply across their fields, and new agricultural technologies and satellites are making it much easier.    Jay sits down with California State University at Monterrey Bay Senior Research Scientist –  and former student – A.J. Purdy, whose doctoral thesis looked at the advancement and applications of satellite-derived ET algorithms. We also hear what this looks like in real life, with Brett Baker, a sixth-generation California pear farmer and lawyer. With the ever-present risk of flood on his family’s land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Baker explains how OpenET https://openetdata.org/ is helping farmers like him and his father take better measurements of consumptive use.  Robyn Grimm, Interim Director of OpenET, tells us how this open-source platform is making big waves. 

Dec 07, 2022

In the quest to find clean, renewable sources of energy, we turn to a familiar method: hydroelectricity. Today, the ancient method of harnessing the power of flowing water is hitting enormous new heights. Hydroelectric dams are some of the biggest human-made structures in the world. As humans dam more and more rivers, the scale and sheer size of these structures continues to grow.   But in trying to meet our future electrical demand, are we pursuing a technology that is harming communities, rivers and the environment?    In our first-ever documentary , we hear the different ways Indigenous communities bear the brunt of mega hydroelectric projects. What happens when land is flooded, waterways diverted, and dangerous neurotoxins like methylmercury are released? Featuring Inuk Labrador Land Protector Amy Norman and Aimée Craft, co-editor of , the documentary by Farha Akhtar gives us a first-hand and insightful account of the long-lasting legacies created by hydroelectric projects. Daniel Macfarlane then shares his perspective on the outsized environmental effects of super-sized hydroelectric projects. The asssociate professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies at Western Michigan University sits down with Jay to discuss what actually happens when a free-flowing river is turned into a lake – from changes in species, to changes in local climates. They also discuss “hydraulic imperialism” and the colonial subjugation of Indigenous people and land.   The Canadian registered charity https://raventrust.com/ weighs in on its work supporting Indigenous communities pursuing the often-expensive and painful process of challenging large-scale dams and developments in court.    We round out the episode with the moving song by , a four piece Indigenous folk-rock band from Labrador, Canada.  

Nov 23, 2022
Field Smarts: Protecting Farmers’ Wallets and Our Water, with Bruno Basso

It’s estimated that by 2050, we’ll have over 9 billion people on earth. To feed everyone, we will need to produce 60 per cent more food - and we'll need to grow it using less water. On this episode of we’re looking at new technology that can make that shift possible. Jay sits down with colleague and friend Bruno Basso, an agro-ecosystem scientist at Michigan State University and the co-founder and chief scientist of CIBO Technologies. https://www.cibotechnologies.com/ Basso walks through the remote sensing technology, artificial intelligence, and process-based models farmers can use to optimize their yield - and environmental outcomes - using more precise water and fertilizer inputs.  In the Last Word we look at one of the most impactful inventions for precision agriculture: drip irrigation. John Farner, Chief Sustainability Officer for Netafim, explains how this low-tech innovation is helping farmers around the globe grow higher quality crops with less water. We also dive into three ‘Ask Jay’ questions. You can check out the article Jay mentions here. And if you have a question about water for Jay, let us know who you are, what’s on your mind, and where you’re based – by writing to ideas@whataboutwater.org. We also like voice memos!

Nov 09, 2022
Under the Sea: Hidden Freshwater Reserves with Brandon Dugan

By 2025, experts predict over half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas. With a number of our freshwater resources on land receding, is it time to look to the ocean - or, rather, it for fresh water Jay sits down with Brandon Dugan, the Associate Department Head and Baker Hughes Chair in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines, to find out. Brandon Dugan tells us about an aquifer off the coast of New Jersey that could provide access to freshwater – if we dig deep enough. Jay taps into the advanced drilling technology Dugan and other researchers use to access these hidden freshwater reserves and assess them as a viable resource. The find raises questions about water ownership and governance in uncharted territory, along with the need to value offshore water as much as we value offshore oil and gas. At the tail end of this episode, our producer Erin Stephens returns with our first ‘Ask Jay’ segment. Do you have a question about water for Jay? Let us know who you are, what’s on your mind, and where you’re based – by writing to ideas@whataboutwater.org. Voice memos are also welcome.

Oct 26, 2022
Running Dry: Nik Kowsar on Iranian Censorship and Water Scarcity

For Nik Kowsar, civil unrest in Iran is not new. As a geologist and journalist, he's been sounding the alarm about water shortages and censorship in his home country for decades. After being arrested and jailed for one of his cartoons and receiving death threats from pro-regime Islamists, Kowsar fled Iran in 2003. Today, he is an award-winning Iranian-Canadian journalist and water issues analyst. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. where he produces and broadcasts 'Abangan; a weekly Persian-language show covering water issues for Iranian citizens. In this episode, Kowsar shares the story about how and why he harnesses the power of media and technology to spread the word about water. In our Last Word, we turn to Daniel Harrich, a German documentary filmmaker who recently released the three-part documentary series “Unser Vasser” (Our Water) for the German Public Television Network, ARD. Jay traveled around the southwest United States with Daniel last year to film for the documentary, which now has over 5 million views. And as promised, here is the “Water” episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that Jay mentions in the show.

Oct 12, 2022
Water Affects Your Pension: Cate Lamb at World Water Week

Can water risk disclosure move the needle on corporate water stewardship? And what does that risk mean for our own retirement funds? In this very special episode of - recorded on location at World Water Week - Jay sits down with Cate Lamb in Stockholm, Sweden to discuss valuing water. We hear how companies with high water-related risks affect our own bottom line, and how pensions hang in the balance when the value of those companies erodes in the face of climate change.  Cate Lamb is the Global Director of Water Security for CDP, a non-profit organization once dubbed “the most powerful Green NGO you’ve never heard of” by the . CDP urges large businesses to disclose their environmental risks and reduce their water footprint, using the influence of investors to catalyze change. In a report released just last year, the NGO found the cost of ignoring water risks to businesses could be OVER FIVE TIMES GREATER than paying now to address those risks. CDP currently has around 3,500 companies that voluntarily disclose water risks, and a group of 680 investors with $130 trillion dollars in assets pushing for that information.

Sep 28, 2022
Don't Mess With the Data: Virginia Burkett on Louisiana's Vanishing Coastline

In the first episode of our fourth season, Jay sits down with renowned scientist and IPCC author, Virginia Burkett, to talk about technology, its pitfalls and its promises for a water-secure future.   Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), where she’s worked for over three decades. She is based in Louisiana and is an expert in global change and low-lying coastal zones. We also get an update from Jay after a busy summer and a sneak peak at the season ahead. Here is The Deutsche Welle German Documentary, which now has nearly 4 million views in English alone, and the "Water" episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtxew5XUVbQ that Jay mentions.   If you have any ideas, questions or comments for our new ‘Ask Jay’ segment, email us at ideas@whataboutwater.org and you may well hear Jay answer your question in an upcoming episode.

Sep 14, 2022
Season 4 Trailer

Our planet is in crisis. When it comes to water, there are many promising solutions. But in a world full of new technologies, what innovations should we pay attention to? And will they be enough?   On Season 4 of we're diving into NEW TECHNOLOGIES, WATER REALITIES. Host Jay Famiglietti will sit down with the experts, innovators and big-picture thinkers who are helping preserve and protect our freshwater.   Each new episode, we'll look at how human-made solutions can both help and hurt us as we tackle our biggest water challenges. And we'll explore everything from ideas found in nature to digital media, data and shiny new tech. 

Aug 24, 2022
Can Peace and Prosperity Flow from Water?

What happens when tensions over water reach their boiling point? In our final bonus episode of the summer season, we explore the causes of water conflicts and what we can do to stop them. We start with the Middle East, a water-scarce region where conflict brews over shared water resources. We then turn to Latin America, where migrants are spurred by climate change, and the lack of water rights in Chilé has created conflict between the government and its people. We revisit conversations with four renowned guests from our past episodes: EcoPeace Middle East Director Gidon Bromberg, economist Jeffrey Sachs, journalist Abrahm Lustgarten and activist Carolina Vilches. You can find their full episodes from our previous seasons here: S1E3 & S1E4: Water, peace and the Middle East: Part 1 & Part 2: Water, Peace and the Middle East featuring Gidon Bromberg   S2E13 Towards a Better, Greener World with Jeffrey Sachs https://www.whataboutwater.org/s02e13/   S2E4 The Great Climate Migration with Abrahm Lustgarten https://www.whataboutwater.org/s02e04/   S3E11 Water Pipes to Water Rights: Protecting Water with Newsha Ajami and Carolina Vilches https://www.whataboutwater.org/s03e11/   We’d love to hear your thoughts about our show in our What About Water Listener Survey. As a thank you, we will plant a tree through One Tree Planted for each survey our podcast listeners complete.

Aug 17, 2022
Engineering a New Water World

In our third bonus episode of the summer season, we look back at the innovative ways people are sourcing their freshwater, from building home water systems on the Navajo Nation to engineering a state of the art wastewater treatment facility in Orange County. We hear what improvements need to be made to America's aging water infrastructure. And we look at the damage that over-engineering has done through dams and diversions, turning our attention to nature-based solutions to help restore the broken water cycle.   This mini-episode features the voices of Emma Robbins, Peter Gleick, Mike Markus and Sandra Postel. You can find their full episodes from our previous seasons here:   S2E1 (COVID-19 & our Water Supply) featuring Emma Robbins: https://www.whataboutwater.org/s02e01/ S2E6 (Bide(n) Time for America’s Water Resources) featuring Peter Gleick: https://www.whataboutwater.org/s02e06/ S3E4 (Replenishing a Broken Water Cycle) featuring Sandra Postel: https://www.whataboutwater.org/s03e04/ S3E7 (Debunking ‘Toilet to Tap’) featuring Mike Markus: https://www.whataboutwater.org/s03e07/ We’d love to hear your thoughts about our show in our What About Water Listener Survey. As a thank you, we will plant a tree through One Tree Planted for each survey our podcast listeners complete.

Jul 13, 2022
Going to Extremes: Heat, Water Scarcity and Food

From farmer’s fields to the high arctic, from your morning cup of coffee to a glass of wine – everything we eat and drink depends on water. In the second episode of our summer mini season, we draw from our past interviews about water scarcity and its effect on our food supply.   We take a look at last year’s drought and withered crops on the Canadian prairies, and how melting permafrost in the arctic threatens traditional knowledge about food from the land and food security for the Inuit of Iqaluit. We hear how coffee farmers in Sierra Leone are cultivating the climate-resilient "Stenophylla" coffee species to bring it to market, and how crops like coffee beans and wine grapes are sensitive indicators of climate change -- and changes coming to these industries.   We’d like to hear your thoughts about our show in our What About Water Listener Survey. As a thank you, we will plant a tree through One Tree Planted for each survey our podcast listeners complete.

Jun 15, 2022
At Its Essence: What Indigenous Teachings Tell us About Water

In our first mini-episode of the summer season, we turn to three guests from our past seasons to explore Indigenous ways of knowing, and to look more closely at the sacred nature of water -- how various people understand it, conserve it and co-exist with it.   JANET PITSIULAAQ BREWSTER shares how climate change is affecting Indigenous reconciliation efforts in Canada and what melting permafrost means for the Inuit of Iqaluit.   DEON HASSLER gives hope to a new generation of Indigenous water operators in the face of long-term boil water advisories. And JOSÉE STREET shares her story of learning the lessons of western science, while the teachings of her family and culture bubble under the surface.   We'd also like to hear your thoughts, in our What About Water Listener Survey. As a thank you, we will plant a tree through One Tree Planted https://onetreeplanted.org/ for each survey our podcast listeners complete. 

May 18, 2022
Summer Season Trailer

This summer on What About Water? we bring you some of our most compelling interviews from the past three seasons. We're releasing four mini episodes spanning four different themes that continue to resonate in the world of water.  This special summer edition of What About Water? launches May 18, with one episode dropping each month. 

May 16, 2022
The Girl Who Wanted To Swim: Tackling Sewage At The Source

On our final episode of Season 3, we hear how a 6th grade science fair project led to receiving the Order of Nova Scotia for youth environmentalist and clean water advocate, Stella Bowles. At just 11 years old, Stella learned about the 600 straight pipes flushing unprocessed sewage from homes directly into the LaHave river behind her home. What started as a science fair project catapulted her community - and all three levels of government - into action to clean up the LaHave. Now 18 years old and $15.7 million in government funds allocated later, Stella sits down with Jay to share her story. On the Last Word we hear from more youth of all ages – five-year old Rishi, 8-year-old Aashrith, 10-year-old Aurelia, 12-year-old Tasman, and 13-year-old Shreya. They share why water is important to them and what they are doing to protect it, plus a call to action for adults everywhere.  Read the full guest bio for Stella Bowles here.

Mar 30, 2022
Water Pipes to Water Rights: Protecting Water with Newsha Ajami and Carolina Vilches

This week on What About Water?, we look at water infrastructure – from broken water pipes across America to the redistribution of water rights in Chilé – and what role governments play in fixing the systems that distribute our water. Newsha Ajami, Chief Development Officer for Research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, joins us as our first return guest of the podcast. Newsha and Jay cover the state of America’s aging water systems and innovative solutions at play from 50L Homes https://50lhome.org/ to on-site water reuse projects, changing views on grassy lawns, and investment in data systems as water infrastructure for the 21st century. On the Last Word we hear from Carolina Vilches, a member of the constitutional convention in Chilé, where large industries hold huge rights to water. She was elected last May to help re-write her country’s constitution and recalibrate water distribution. Under Chilé’s new laws, she’s trying to make sure water gets protection as a basic human right. Read the guest bios for Newsha Ajami and Carolina Vilches here. 

Mar 16, 2022
Good To The Last Drop? Coffee & Climate with Aaron Davis

Coffee is one of the most widely-consumed beverages in the world. But with climate change threatening the world's two main coffee species, will that change? Coffee scientist and researcher Dr. Aaron Davis says even with rising temperatures, and more drought -- that doesn’t have to be the case. This week on What About Water? we hear why reintroducing forgotten wild coffee species will be the key to growing enough coffee in the future. In this episode, Jay learns about the professional coffee-tasting process and just how much flavor factors into the equation for coffee farmers’ bottom lines. On the Last Word we meet Daniel Sarmu, a coffee development specialist in Sierra Leone who is helping small farmers grow heat-tolerant Stenophylla coffee. He is also searching for more Stenophylla coffee trees in the wild. AARON DAVIS Dr. Aaron Davis is the Senior Research Leader of Plant Resources at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK). Davis is the leading authority on coffee species and has traveled widely to countries in Africa to study coffee in the wild. His team at Kew is dedicated to the identification and understanding of the beneficial traits of crops and associated organisms, particularly within the context of environmental stress resilience and climate change. Davis’ work on coffee spans over 30 years, and includes the naming and classification of coffee species, molecular (DNA) studies, conservation, climate change and resilience, and sustainable development. More recently he has published research on the value of wild coffee species (and diversity) for the sustainability of the global coffee sector. Ongoing and new work includes the development of climate resilience methods and the use of wild coffee species for the development of next-generation coffee crops. DANIEL SARMU Daniel Sarmu is a Coffee Development Specialist from Kenema, Sierra Leone. He has worked in the development world for over 20 years, primarily in agriculture, helping small farmers maximize their profits in the coffee industry. In 2018, Daniel re-discovered the long-forgotten Stenophylla coffee plant in the hills of Sierra Leone alongside Dr. Jeremy Hagar and Aaron Davis. In recent years, Daniel has also written Sierra Leone’s coffee policy and is putting finishing touches on it so that small farmers across the country can use it.

Mar 02, 2022
Tasha Beeds: Walking With Water

On this episode of What About Water? we’re learning from traditional knowledge.   Jay sits down with Tasha Beeds, a grassroots Indigenous academic and Water Walker.   She takes us through the origins of Water Walking - an Indigenous ceremony recognizing and connecting with water. Beeds enters into ceremony for the water - discussing what it means to raise consciousness about water as a living entity.   On the Last Word, we hear from Josée Street, a young Indigenous woman who shows how scientists can bridge the gap between traditional ways of knowing and western thinking.

Feb 16, 2022
The Sea Also Rises

On this episode of What About Water? we take a look at the state of our rising seas from space, and learn what coastal communities on the ground are doing to adapt. Jay speaks with long-time colleague Steve Nerem, a principal investigator on NASA’s Sea Level Change team.   We learn that by 2100, we could see around one meter of global sea level rise, but there is still time to stop the worst-case scenarios for future generations. We also hear from Matt Osler about the City of Surrey’s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy and how researchers, First Nations, and municipalities in Southwest British Columbia are working together through the Living with Water project.  STEVE NEREM is a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is a principal investigator on NASA’s Sea Level Change team. He is also the associate director of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research. His current research focuses on predicting global sea level rise and regional variations using satellite altimetry data from NASA missions such as TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1, Jason-2 and the soon-to-be-launched Jason-3. He also uses data from the satellite gravity mission GRACE and eventually the GRACE-Follow On mission. He received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked as a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and as an associate and assistant professor at the University of Texas, Austin. MATT OSLER is a Senior Project Engineer in the Drainage Section at City of Surrey.  He joined the Engineering Department in 2006 and currently oversees the implementation of the City’s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy.  He completed a Master of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.

Feb 02, 2022
From Toilet to Tap, with Mike Markus

With climate change threatening freshwater sources, water demand across the globe is likely to increase by 20 - 30% between now and 2050. In this episode, we’re looking at two promising solutions to create clean drinking water from surprising places: our sewers and our oceans. We speak with General Manager of the Orange County Water District, Mike Markus, about debunking the “toilet to tap” fear and how turning our wastewater into clean drinking water can be a closed-loop solution to mounting water scarcity. We also hear from Dr. William Tarpeh about new research at Stanford University that could make desalination a more viable solution; one that’s less costly and better for the environment. BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES: Michael (Mike) R. Markus is the general manager of the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District), which manages the Orange County Groundwater Basin that supplies water to more than 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County, Calif. With more than 40 years of experience, Mike is well known for his expertise in large project implementation and water resource management. In September 2007, he became only the sixth general manager in the District's history. During his 33-year career at the District, Mike was responsible for managing the implementation of the $480 million Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) program. This project is the largest potable reuse project in the world and has won many awards including the 2008 Stockholm Industry Water Award, 2009 ASCE Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award, 2014 U.S. Water Prize and the 2014 Lee Kuan Yew Prize. In 2015, Mike oversaw the completion of the 30 MGD GWRS Initial Expansion. The expansion brought the total production capacity of the GWRS to 100 MGD of high-quality water, which is enough to serve 850,000 people annually. Mike was named the 2017 Pioneer in Groundwater by the Environmental & Water Resources Institute, one of the Top 25 Industry Leaders of 2014 by Water & Wastewater International, he received the international 2009 Säid Khoury Award for Engineering Construction Excellence, the 2007 American Society of Civil Engineers’ Government Engineer of the Year award, and he was one of the Top 25 Newsmakers of 2007 by the Engineering News-Record. Mike currently serves on the board of directors of the Water Research Foundation, the National Water Research Institute, American Water Works Association and the California Section of the WateReuse Association. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California. He is also a registered civil engineer in the state of California. DR. WILLIAM TARPEH Dr. William Tarpeh is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University. The Tarpeh Lab develops and evaluates novel approaches to resource recovery from “waste” waters at several synergistic scales: molecular mechanisms of chemical transport and transformation; novel unit processes that increase resource efficiency; and systems-level assessments that identify optimization opportunities. Will completed his B.S. in chemical engineering at Stanford and his M.S. and Ph.D. in environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, and a UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship. He conducted postdoctoral training at University of Michigan in environmental engineering. Will is a member of the Bouchet Honor Society, NBCBLK's "28 Under 28" African-American Innovators, and Forbes' "30 Under 30" 2019 Science List. Tarpeh's CV is available here.

Jan 19, 2022
Boiling Point: Water, Borders and Conflict with Aaron Wolf

Transboundary waters - the rivers, lakes, and aquifers shared by two or more countries - are found in 153 of the world’s 192 countries. They account for an estimated 60 per cent of global freshwater flow. As a critical component of our survival, water has long been a source of conflict between nations. The stakes are higher with a rapidly increasing population and threats of water scarcity. In this episode, we talk to Aaron Wolf, a trained mediator and facilitator and Professor of Geography in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, about transboundary cooperation as a useful tool for adaptation.   His research and teaching focus is on the interaction between water science and water policy, particularly as related to conflict prevention and resolution. He has acted as a consultant to the World Bank and several international government agencies on various aspects of transboundary water resources and dispute resolution. A trained mediator/facilitator, Wolf directs the Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation. Through it, he offers workshops, facilitations, and mediation in basins throughout the world. He coordinates the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, and is a co-director of the Universities Partnership on Transboundary Waters.  Aaron Wolf has been an author/editor for seven books, as well as almost 50 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports on various aspects of transboundary waters, including his most recent book: . MICHELLE SINGH Born into an interfaith family, Rev. Michelle Singh has a deep understanding and appreciation for the world’s rich spiritual and cultural diversity. In 2008, she became an ordained Interfaith Minister from The New Seminary, New York. Since then, she has been actively engaged in Canada’s interfaith movement, including vice-chairing the award winning World Interfaith Harmony Week Steering Committee and co-founding a multi-faith Spiritual Dialogue Circle.   Notably, Michelle was a Board member and Steering Committee Co-Chair for the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions — overseeing the worlds largest interfaith gathering, featuring over 1000 diverse spiritual programs, attended by over 8500 persons.   Prior to becoming an Interfaith Minister, Michelle spent more than 30 years in the I.T. and Communications sectors leading teams in challenging, goal-oriented environments. She is an officiant, well known for intuitive listening and her ability to create safe and sacred spaces for processing and dialogue.

Jan 05, 2022
'Portfolios will tank': Mindy Lubber, money and water

We’re already reaping the financial repercussions of climate change. Four Twenty Seven projects that by 2040, roughly $78 trillion, equivalent to about 57% of the world’s current GDP, will be exposed to flooding. On this episode of What About Water? we ask the question: can market incentives align with climate priorities? And how do we hold big corporations accountable? We speak with Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit driving climate solutions through a surprising demographic – influential investors and fortune 500 companies. Mindy breaks down investors’ call for action leading up to COP26 and how, if we really want to create change, influencing corporate interest is part of the solution. 

Dec 08, 2021
Replenishing a Broken Water Cycle

For centuries, we have built big dams, reservoirs, and levees. Humans have steered and shaped the flow of water to irrigate deserts, prevent floods and access groundwater. But through big engineering, we’ve also created breaks in the natural flow of freshwater from source to sea. The good news is: we can look back to nature for solutions.  In this episode we speak with Sandra Postel, one of the world’s leading freshwater experts, about how solutions rooted in nature - like cover cropping and river restoration - are key to mending the broken water cycle. We also speak with Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy, a Director of River Restoration for American Rivers, about a demolition project along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvaniad. She sees dam removal as a critical first step to river restoration. mending our planet's broken water cycle.     About our guests: SANDRA POSTEL is an American conservationist, a leading expert on international water issues, and Director of the Global Water Policy Project. She is the winner of the 2021 Stockholm Water Prize. During her years at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, DC, she was early in adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to water, after having studied geology, political science, and environmental management. In 1994 Postel founded the Global Water Policy Project. She is also the co-creator of the water stewardship initiative Change the Course, as well as a prolific writer and a sought-after communicator. Between 2009 and 2015, Postel served as Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society.    LISA HOLLINGSWORTH-SEGEDY Lisa joined American Rivers in 2008 to work with communities, individuals, government, and other non-profit organizations to facilitate the removal of dams that have outlived their useful life. She has been involved in the removal of nearly 100 obsolete dams. Lisa is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and brings more than three decades of experience in community and regional planning, environmental and resource protection planning, water resource management, project management, community economic revitalization, geology, and hydrogeology to her position. Lisa was an associate producer for American Rivers’ documentary “Restoring America’s Rivers,” and has completed several demonstration projects using Large Wood Debris for river restoration and aquatic habitat in Pennsylvania.

Nov 24, 2021
Growing Food in Dry Times: Drought in the West

It’s no surprise growing food uses lots of water. One cow needs anywhere from 3 to 30 L of water a day. It takes 3200 L of water to grow one pound of lentils. In this episode we ask, what do we do when there's not enough water to feed our food? Here in Canada, 2021 made history as prairie farmers experienced one of the worst droughts Western North America has seen in the last 1200 years. After three years of reduced precipitation, prolonged dry spells change everything from the crops we’re able to grow, right down to the cost of the food on our plates.  In this episode, we hear from Merle Massie and Reg Low -- Saskatchewan farmers who are experiencing the impact of drought and unpredictable precipitation firsthand. Jay talks with Leon Kochian, Associate Director of the Global Institute for Food Security, about the 'root' of the problem. We look at how far science has come in breeding drought-resistant crops to help farmers adapt to both floods and water scarcity, and at where it's headed as we try to feed an ever-expanding human population.  

Nov 10, 2021
On Thin Ice: Iqaluit’s Water Crisis

In this episode, we visit the city of Iqaluit in Canada’s northern territory of Nunavut, which is battling a water crisis on multiple fronts. This month, residents were alerted not to drink or cook with water due to contamination. But for years, the city’s main water supply - Lake Geraldine - has experienced dropping levels. And overall, climate change is impacting everything from the city’s water supply, to thawing permafrost. Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster served as Deputy Mayor of Iqaluit, and was recently elected to her territory's legislature. In this episode, recorded shortly after that alert was issued, she shares how the people of Iqaluit are coping with these water challenges and what they mean for the Inuit and their traditional way of life.

Oct 27, 2021