Year 2015 has been a wonderful year for Operation Unite®. When we experience successes, it is because success has occurred in the communities that we serve. We wanted to share some of the highlights from this year’s activities. Wishing each of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Stephen Baker, founder of Operation Unite®, received the American Institute of Professional Geologist 2015 Mentor Award this year in Anchorage, Alaska.
· Stephen exemplifies the make-it-happen attitude of the professional geologist giving back to California geology students and the professional community.
· By 2013 he agreed to be an official UC Davis AIPG Student Section Mentor. As an official AIPG Student Section Mentor, Steve has participated in meetings and field trips, including giving two resume and interviewing workshops.
· In 2014, Steve developed the "Meet Your Mentor™” internet radio program to connect mentors in the water industry with listeners who have interest in training and education in vocational and academic schools, finding a job, continuing education, ethics, education and dealing with setbacks experienced in the industry. Based on the initial success of the program, with appropriate funding, Steve plans to take the “Meet Your Mentor™” program nationally.
· In helping the profession in California, Stephen Baker participated as an AIPG Student Mentor at the 2015 International Goldschmidt Conference in Sacramento where he spoke about career development to 95+ enthusiastic geology students.
While Stephen is thrilled to be recognized for his work and honored to receive this award, his passion is expanding to include dialog with the public surrounding water usage, conservation and new solutions in his drought-ridden home state, California.
OPERATION UNITE® 30-DAY PILOT PUBLIC FACILITATION PROGRAM IN NEVADA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Operation Unite® spent thirty days talking, interviewing, educating and modeling positive community behaviors of citizens and water stakeholders in Nevada County on drought vulnerabilities in the community. Operation Unite® found that public facilitation really works when the citizens and water stakeholders are engaged together in creating successful responses to drought and water issues. Operation Unite® public facilitation programs are available to:
· bring people together in developing local groundwater sustainability agencies in California,
· enhance water conservation practices in communities and water districts,
· develop cultural changes that enhance resiliency to water shortage through campaigns that increase acceptance and construction of rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge systems, or
· enhance public recognition of the important connection between food and water when deciding who gets a limited supply of the available water.
Educational water and drought presentations were scheduled, several thirty minute videos describing water conservation, domestic well monitoring, and ranching in the drought were produced, newspaper articles were written and consistent weekly water reports on local radio and community television were broadcasted. The Operation Unite® Facebook page received a lot of traffic during the event.
We gained a lot of insight from completing this project, especially the public’s perception of their vulnerability to the current drought. Some citizens were highly engaged in actively conserving their water while many others were unaware that their personal actions could be causing problems within the community or towards themselves. We found that concentrated and consistent messaging through a period of time offered by an Operation Unite® public facilitation program far exceeds the effectiveness in relying on conventional local radio, TV and newspapers coverage. The bottom line is this; An Operation Unite® public facilitation is a critical ingredient that generates uniform understanding and perceptions of vulnerability, community values, common goals and a direction for solving the water problem. Since the pilot project, we have increased efforts via YouTube and other on-line vidcasts.
NEVADA COUNTY COMMUNITY WATER FORUM
Operation Unite® wanted to bring attention to 2015’s drought response successes and next year’s actions so we organized a Nevada County Community Water Forum through the KVMR 89.5 FM radio station in Nevada City, California. Operation Unite® selected and prepared a very prestigious group of panelists; CalFire, Nevada County Office of Emergency Services, Nevada Irrigation District and Operation Unite’s very own Stephen Baker. The Nevada Theater donated their stage and auditorium for the December event.
Radio listeners emailed questions and the forum audience created a lively, real-time interactive discussion of concerns, actions, ideas and comments with the listening audience and panelists- a true success. Feedback received after the broadcast described the forum as highly informative, motivating and engaging.
Operation Unite® incorporates community forums into its public facilitation strategy on many projects. It has proven to be an effective tool used to bring people together to solve the water issues at hand.
OPERATION UNITE® FACEBOOK® AND YOUTUBE® CHANNEL
Operation Unite® has been very busy bringing to you boots-on-the-ground reporting through videos and News Alerts appearing on the Operation Unite® Facebook page. This has proved to be a very effective conduit and helpful to well users, managers and the agricultural sector across the western states.
A thirty minute video describing Operation Unite’s Know Your Water® groundwater management program for fractured rock aquifers is now available on YouTube (Know Your Water®- Faces in the Drought by Operation Unite®). Other videos incorporated in the Faces in the Drought video series include Drought and Ranching, Water Conservation and a one hour Special Climate Change lecture presented by Stephen Baker (Founder of Operation Unite®) this past summer.
Social media and videos have proven to reach and teach communities with water problems. Operation Unite® has added internet resources by creating content that builds a commitment by the public to find and implement answers. This is accomplished by adding Operation Unite® messages through a Facebook page and an internet radio channel for each Operation Unite® public facilitation project; concentrated, relevant and accurate information delivered with a personal touch.
OPERATION UNITE’S LIVING WATER® PROGRAMMING
Operation Unite® has had many memorable interviews and experiences for its radio channels this year. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing has reached 251 short segment shows from all over the world and water topics that are pertinent to each of our lives. The Conversations show has included interviews with Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resource Control Board, David Bowker on adaptive management, Dr. Ben Santer, Climatologist with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and Phil Isenberg, Delta Stewardship Council. Each conversation addresses misconceptions present in the world regarding the water topic and suggested perspectives that can bring opposing groups and individuals together to solve water problems. Meet Your Mentor® has completed the pre-recorded shows for two mentors (18 shows) and is searching for the next water mentor. Our community values show, Senior Wisdom, has topped off with 42 recorded shows that identify the common community values expressed through the experiences of our senior population. What a great way to demonstrate the values that need to be maintained when addressing water issues of the state, regionally and locally. Our seniors are key contributors in identifying community values that are upheld during water discussions, public forums and stakeholder negotiations. The combination of these programs is wrapped in a very concentrated and consistent broadcasting schedule with plenty of interactions. This media tool is proving to rally people behind a common goal while addressing the controversial details that are present between groups through community values. People are hearing the messages and making a difference in their own communities through Operation Unite® custom created public facilitation programs.
OPERATION UNITE’S EDUCATIONAL PRESENTATIONS
Operation Unite® has been on the road for a whole year presenting groundwater and drought related presentations in Paso Robles, Sierra County, Amador County, Sacramento County, portions of Washington state and Colorado. Ground based, data driven education on groundwater and other water issues have been presented in front of very responsive audiences. Two topics have been particularly popular; groundwater management in fractured rock aquifers and the California drought. Audiences have shown strong interest and a desire to make changes in their communities.
Operation Unite® is proud to have outreach programs available for helping communities and individuals. Operation Unite® takes citizen enthusiasm and turns it into actions that solve water issues.
OPERATION UNITE’S NEIGHBORHOOD WATER ALLIANCE OUTREACH PROGRAM
Operation Unite® is having a positive impact through the Operation Unite® Neighborhood Water Alliance outreach program. This program helps neighborhoods in fractured rock aquifer environments prepare a water contingency to be used whenever domestic groundwater wells go dry within the neighborhood. When we say, “We will always have water working together”, we mean it! We are already starting Neighborhood Water Alliance outreach programs in Nevada County, California. As more neighborhoods ban together, our communities will become unaffected by the adverse impacts of drought. The Neighborhood Water Alliance program removes the pressures placed on county and state governments by encouraging and enabling neighbors to work together. Government intervention is rarely necessary.
OPERATION UNITE® KNOW YOUR WATER® OUTREACH PROGRAM
The Know Your Water® outreach program is helping well users manage their water supply by giving them the information they need and teaching them how to use it. Operation Unite® provides groundwater levels, water quality data and other information generated from a member’s well. Farms and rural residential property owners that rely on water wells for their water supply have never had this opportunity.
Fractured rock aquifer environments are ideal for this program. People are learning how to make good water decisions for their properties. Without this program, these water well users have no motivation and direction for avoiding the dysfunction created from a dry well. Knowing your water provides these families and farms with the necessary information to choose real time life style modifications and well pumping adjustments that navigate a property owner through the difficulties of a low water year. These Know Your Water® members continue having a water supply, all year round. No more dry well nightmares.
OPERATION UNITE® SUPPORTS THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY’S GAMA PROGRAM
Operation Unite® founder, Stephen Baker, is supporting the U.S. Geological Survey GAMA program by volunteering his personal domestic water well and contributing data generated through the Operation Unite® Know Your Water® program. This information is being used to quantify water quality and other conditions that have generated as a result of land development activities and the drought in northern California. Results from this program will be published in future U.S. Geologic Survey publications and made available to the general public. Operation Unite® is proud to support the United States Geologic Survey.