Hydrology Days’ 40th anniversary builds on CSU legacy of excellence in water-related studies

Hannah Miller presents her research at Hydrology Days in 2019.
Hannah Miller presents her research at Hydrology Days in 2019.

What began as a single day to highlight hydrology research has grown into a three-day event bringing together top researchers in the field with faculty, students, government representatives and industry practitioners to focus on a critical topic that affects us all: water. Since the beginning, Colorado State University has hosted Hydrology Days, a gathering of interdisciplinary leaders in water studies and presentation of state-of-the-art scientific results, in partnership with the American Geophysical Union.

CSU Professor Hubert Morel-Seytoux, who also chaired the AGU’s Front Range branch, founded Hydrology Days 40 years ago to bring together regional hydrology-focused scientists – to avoid the expense of traveling to far-away conferences – and to provide students with an opportunity to participate in a professional meeting. CSU’s firmly established leadership in hydrological teaching, research, service and engagement made it a fitting site for such a meeting of minds.

The event has expanded to include prominent invited speakers, major awards in the field and increased student involvement. New this year, the student showcase will feature a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) and poster competition, which challenges students to compellingly present their research and its significance in just three minutes. The competition helps students develop communication skills in a supportive environment. Top-scoring student presenters will be awarded cash prizes and featured in a special issue of Colorado Water, a Colorado Water Center publication. The abstract submission deadline is Feb. 15.

Water-related topics covered during the conference’s sessions and research presentations include agriculture, water rights, climate change, urbanization, economics, policy and stochastic hydrometeorology – a new focus this year. Researchers are invited to submit presentation abstracts and article manuscripts on any water-related topic. Articles will be considered for the special edition of Colorado Water featuring Hydrology Days. The deadline for manuscript submissions is Feb. 15.

Keynote speakers

The 40th edition of Hydrology Days, April 13-15, will honor distinguished water authorities with three different awards. Each award winner will give a keynote presentation. In addition, the Colorado Water Center’s Dr. Norm Evans Lecture and Reception will be held in conjunction with the event this year.

“All of our keynote speakers are world-class in what they do,” said civil and environmental engineering Professor Mazdak Arabi, who also directs the One Water Solutions Institute. OWSI, a cross-campus hub for interdisciplinary water-related studies at CSU, is organizing the event for the second year, expanding its reach beyond the engineering college.

Each year the Hydrology Days Award recognizes outstanding and significant contributions to hydrologic science. Soroosh Sorooshian, a University of California, Irvine distinguished professor and director of the Center for Hydrometeorology and Remote Sensing, will be honored this year.

Two speakers are invited each year to give Borland lectures, endowed by former Bureau of Reclamation employee Whitney Borland. Duke University Distinguished Professor Ana Barros will receive the Borland Hydrology Award, and CSU Professor Ellen Wohl will receive the Borland Hydraulics Award.

The Dr. Norm Evans Lecture will bring a fourth preeminent speaker to this year’s event. Cornell University Professor Jery Stedinger will present this year’s lecture.

Continuing the legacy

After founding Hydrology Days, Morel-Seytoux guided the event for 19 years. When the professor emeritus was ready to turn over the conference to a new organizer, several options were considered, including letting AGU take the reins or rotating the event among several institutions. Because of the invaluable opportunities Hydrology Days offered by bringing together water faculty and providing students with educational and professional experience, CSU maintained its leadership role. Civil and environmental engineering Professor Jorge Ramirez managed the conference from 2000 to 2018, handing it over to OWSI last year.

OWSI has broadened participation beyond the fields of engineering and hydrology, engaging departments across campus to foster interdisciplinary collaboration. OWSI strives to make the event free to all students interested in attending by seeking sponsors from any college or department.

For more information about Hydrology Days, please visit the event website here.