November 13, 2014

Tysons Corner, VA - Over 500 attendees convened to commemorate the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) 50-Years at the AWRA’s 50th Annual Conference November 2-6 in Vienna, Virginia.  The 2014 conference marks AWRA's 50th anniversary, since its founding on March 23, 1964.  The 50th Year Conference reflected on the history and state of water resources management globally and the formative years of the AWRA.  Some of the other key issues examined were the state of water management when AWRA was formed, how water management has evolved since creation of AWRA and the challenges and opportunities that are facing the water resources profession.

The technical program began with a plenary session in two parts, first with a keynote address, followed by a high-impact plenary panel, then continued with more than 80 concurrent technical sessions on a wide range of water resources research, policy, management, education, and technical topics, including special tracks for AWRA at 50, Climate Change, Dynamic Reservoir Operations, Flood Management, Green Infrastructure, International Water, Management Tools, Open Water Data, Social Science and Emerging Contaminants, Water Quality, and Watershed Protection Modeling.

The AWRA commemorated the first 50 years during the AWRA Awards Luncheon on November 5, where many of the founding members, including founder Dr. Sandor Csallany and AWRA past-presidents were recognized in front of the more than 500 conference attendees.  AWRA past-presidents along with current president Mark Dunning lead audience participation of singing Happy Birthday to AWRA.

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L to R: Jerry Rogers, AWRA president Mark Dunning, AWRA founder Sandor Csallany, AWRA 2014 Conference Technical Co-Chairs Betsy Cody and Gerry Galloway.

Dr. Sandor Csallany, P.H., was introduced to the audience where he received a standing ovation.  Dr. Csallany addressed and encouraged the audience:

"I wanted to start an organization like American Water Resources Association because there was a need for such an organization.  The AWRA making it to 50 years is a testament to the staff, the leaders and all of our member professionals that have served this great organization.  In closing, if you have an idea or thought that you think will benefit our society and communities- I ask you to give it a try and go for it.  You may have some people that may share doubts on the idea, or even oppose the idea.  I encourage you to still try and go for it."

The concept behind the American Water Resources Association was developed by Dr. Csallany, a refugee who had arrived in New York City in 1956, with his wife, Agnes, after fleeing from Hungary to Austria during Hungary’s revolution attempt.  Dr. Csallany began his professional career in the U.S. with the Illinois State Water Survey in Urbana, Illinois and sought the help of Robert W. Finfrock, a local attorney, to incorporate the American Water Resources Association as a non-profit scientific association.

Since its founding in 1964, AWRA has established ten awards which include the Henry P. Caulfield, Jr., Medal for Exemplary Contributions to National Water Policy, the Icko Ben award for outstanding contributions in promoting communication among the various disciplines concerned with water resources issues, Mary H. Marsh Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Protection and Wise Use of the Nation’s Water Resources, and the Sandor C. Csallany Institutional Award for Exemplary Contributions to Water Resources Management.  The AWRA also established respected publications such as the Journal of American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) and Water Resources IMPACT

AAWRE founding member, Dr. Jerry Rogers, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE, who served as AWRA President in 1989 participated in the conference as a speaker during the AWRA Awards Luncheon, giving an overview of AWRA’s first 25 Years of History and leading a history session on the first 50 years of AWRA.  Dr. Rogers co-authored with Dr. David R. DeWalle, Ph.D., the publication titled The American Water Resources Association 1964-2014: Fifty Years Dedicated to Water Resources Management, Research and Education.  AAWRE Honorary Diplomate, Dr. Gerry Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE also participated as a Technical Co-Chair for the conference and some of the special panel sessions.

Dr. Jerry Rogers reflected on the conference and the first 50 years of AWRA:

"The AWRA 50th Anniversary Annual Conference Nov. 2-6, 2014 in Tysons Corner, VA  was well planned with excellent speakers and topics. I learned much new information on various water resources subjects. AWRA has become an excellent interdisciplinary society.

As a Ph.D. Northwestern University student in 1965, I attended the first AWRA Conference at the University of Chicago. I was impressed by the speakers and topics and began participating in AWRA regularly. AWRA‘s first 50 years have demonstrated its versatility as an interdisciplinary association.”

The AWRA will host three major conferences in 2015- the Spring conference on Water For Urban Areas in March, Adaptation to Climate Change Conference in June and Annual Conference in November 2015.