"Society's water needs have grown extensively, especially during the last decade. Today entire rivers, from the Yellow River of China to the Colorado River in North America, no longer reach their coastal zones," said symposium co-organizer Alan Covich (Institute of Ecology University of Georgia).

James Hook and Elizabeth Blood (both of University of Georgia Tifton) recount the results of drought years in Georgia in their presentation, "How does long-term drought affect watershed management?" According to the researchers, multi-year droughts in the Southeast combined with urban growth and agricultural development have resulted in interstate water disputes over federal reservoirs, a lawsuit, and new initiatives statewide for water planning. During the presentation, Hook will discuss the impacts of major water restrictions, as well as efforts toward community communication with regulators and farmers, during what, according to the presenters, has been one of the worst droughts on record.

Droughts and reduced water flow also impact downstream areas, such as estuaries, which commonly serve as nurseries for many species of fish and other organisms. During wet years, high volumes of freshwater affect the salinity level by diluting the brackish water and impact the condition of estuaries as silt flows down river. Merryl Alber (University of Georgia - Athens), will explore the management of freshwater inflow criteria for Texas, Florida and Georgia, in his talk, "A River runs to it: The effects of changing inflow to estuaries."

Organisms in protected areas also feel the heightened battle for water during drought. Attention to water resources above and below ground throughout an entire area, such as in arid regions, is a familiar concept, but much newer to wetter regions, such as the Southeast US. Catherine Pringle (University of Georgia - Athens), also a symposium co-organizer, will present findings based on data gathered from the Southeastern Ec

Contact: Annie Drinkard
Ecological Society of America

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