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Multilateral working groups to the Middle East Peace Initiative were formed in January 1992 to consider five major problem areas—arms control and regional security, environment, economic development, refugees, and water resources—in support of the ongoing negotiations and to build confidence among regional parties. The U.S. Department of State requested several Federal agencies, which included the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to provide technical support and advice to the Multilateral Water Resources Working Group (WRWG). Water-data enhancement, water-supply technology, and water management were selected as topics of vital importance, and the USGS was designated as the lead Federal agency for waterdata enhancement. Since 1992, the USGS has provided one or more technical experts as members of the U.S. delegation to each of the WRWG meetings.
In addition, the USGS has been involved in successful efforts to use science as a catalyst to build confidence and friendship among Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian scientists and political leaders while advancing awareness of the need for cooperation in the field of water resources. Beginning with a study tour of the Colorado River Basin, the USGS, which was assisted by other Federal water agencies and the Department of State, has worked to demonstrate to Middle Eastern water managers and officials the necessity for management of scarce water resources on a regional, rather than a national, basis. USGS scientists then designed a water-data questionnaire that was distributed to all parties in the region. The questionnaire responses advanced USGS understanding of water data in the Middle East while providing an opportunity for cooperation among Middle Eastern water agencies.
On the basis of responses to the questionnaire, USGS scientists, who were assisted by water experts from the European Union and Canada, visited Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian, and Egyptian water agencies to assess the availability and adequacy of water data and to develop recommendations for improvements in existing water-data collection systems. Following the mission to the region, the USGS developed and hosted a workshop for regional parties to devise plans for standardizing methods for water-data collection and analysis. This highly successful workshop resulted in a request from the Department of State for the development of a Middle East Water Data Banks Implementation Plan. The plan, which was written by the
USGS, received consensus approval from 45 nations and international organizations convened at the sixth meeting of the Multilateral Water Resources Working Group in Athens, Greece, in November 1994.
Implementation of the plan is scheduled to begin in 1995, and the USGS will play a key role as facilitator, advisor, and mentor as well as advocate of U.S. national interests. The collection of hydrologic and hydrometeorologic data is the basis upon which a watermanagement program must be built. A major objective of the plan will be to support the concept of data comparability among the parties. This task includes establishing, or upgrading and strengthening, water-data programs while maintaining data-collection standards that will enable the parties to exchange water data. Implementation of the multimillion-dollar plan will be shared by donor nations throughout the world through contributions of technical expertise, equipment, and funding.
Anna Lenox coordinates USGS contributions to and is the U.S.
representative to the Water Resources Working
Water in the Desert:
he United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a
Middle Eastern country that comprises seven federated Emirates, or sheikdoms, and encompasses an area of 83,000 square kilometers. Located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula between Qatar and
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2500 *"on e 20 o t too * t Oman, the UAE was known as the Trucial States until the termination of their defense treaty with Great Britain and the establishment of an independent federation in 1971. Abu Dhabi Emirate, which has an area of about 67,000 square kilometers, is the largest of the seven Emirates. The natural resources of Abu Dhabi are characterized by an abundance of oil and a serious scarcity of freshwater.
In 1988, at the request of the U.S. Ambassador to the UAE, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) entered into a 5-year agreement with the National Drilling Company (NDC), which is an agency of the Abu Dhabi Government, to carry out ground-water investigations in the Emirate. The NDCUSGS Ground-Water Research Project office is located about 160 kilometers from the Arabian Gulf in the inland oasis city of Al Ain, which means “The Spring” in Arabic. The project is staffed by 6 to 8 USGS employees who serve 2-year assignments and 49 NDC employees (1 from Canada and 48 from the UAE and other African, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, Somalia, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines). About 20 percent of the workforce are UAE nationals, and 80 percent are expatriates who reside in the country on work visas.
The first phase of the study was to evaluate the fresh and slightly saline ground water of the 10,000-square-kilometer Al Ain area and the 14,600-square-kilometer Liwa Crescent area to provide the Emirate with a sound scientific basis for utilizing and managing its limited water resources. Additional objectives were to conduct research in arid-zone hydrology and to provide training in hydrologic techniques to the diverse international staff of hydrologists and technical support personnel. The initial phase was completed in 1993, and the agreement was extended for an additional 5 years to accommodate the second phase, which extends the evaluation of water resources to include the unstudied areas within the Emirate. A major element of the combined evaluations is the drilling, logging, testing, and sampling of about 165 wells and test holes, drawing on the expertise of numerous USGS researchers and other technical specialists.
The project has addressed a broad variety of research topics, such as wadi (stream) channel geophysical techniques, isotopes and trace elements in ground water, reinterpretation and reprocessing of petroleum seismic survey data, Landsat/SPOT (Satellite pour l'Observation de la Terre) composite mapping, borehole geophysical techniques, and tectonics and stratigraphy. Training activities conducted for project employees by USGS
permanent and temporary duty personnel include classes and workshops on such subjects as borehole geophysics, report writing, water chemistry, aquifer-test analysis, groundwater modeling, and geographic information systems. In addition to the in-house training, NDC employees have attended several training courses at the USGS National Training Center in Denver, Colo., and at other U.S. educational institutions.
The NDC-USGS Ground-Water Research Project has successfully developed special procedures and techniques for drilling water wells, interpreting petrophysical logs, reprocessing existing petroleum seismic data, constructing water wells, and reinterpreting uphole-velocity survey data associated with petroleum exploration, all of which have direct application to investigations in the United States. In meeting its basic objective of providing a sound scientific basis for water management, the project has refined the understanding of the hydrogeologic framework of the Emirate, mapped the areal extent of fresh and brackish ground water, established hydrological and meteorological monitoring networks, and compiled maps of water levels and water quality. This information has been used, in conjunction with wateruse inventories, to develop a hydrologic bud. get and a ground-water model that can be used as a tool to evaluate and manage the nonrenewable ground-water resources of this strategically important, oil-rich Middle Eastern ally.
Craig Hutchinson heads the NDC-USGS Ground-Water Research Project in Al Ain, UAE.
Anna Lenox coordinates USGS international water resources activities.
Toward a Safer World: Natural Disaster Reduction
he risk from natural hazards is increasing
with time worldwide. As a nation's population grows, more people are concentrated in a small number of large metropolitan areas having vulnerable buildings and
lifeline systems. In the United States, for example, much of the population lives in hazard-prone regions. The 12,000 miles of U.S. coastline are subject to hurricanes, storm surges, and tsunami flood waves; areas in and adjacent to the floodplains along the 6 million miles of the Nation's river system are vulnerable to flooding; areas in or near known active fault zones are threatened by possible damaging earthquakes. Whereas the number of deaths from natural hazards is decreasing, direct economic loss is increasing. Successful warning programs have caused a decline in casualties owing to floods, tsunamis, and wildfires; mitigation and preparedness programs have reduced casualties for earthquakes. However, building density and the rising cost of building and construction materials contribute to increasing economic losses.
The first world conference to address loss of life and other concerns related to natural disaster reduction was convened in Yokohama, Japan, by the United Nations (UN) on May 23–27, 1994, at the midpoint of the UN's International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). Hosted by the Government of Japan, the conference was attended by more than 2,000 participants representing 148 nations, UN bodies, specialized agencies, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and regional banks. Scientific and technical disciplines involved in risk assessment, mitigation, and warning systems for earthquakes, floods, severe storms, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, wildfires, and droughts were represented at the conference.
The outcome of the conference was summarized in the Yokohama Statement and Plan of Action for a Safer World, which specified activities at community, national, subregional, regional, and international levels. The plan calls upon governments of every country at risk from natural hazards to develop strategies for reducing the potential impacts of future natural disasters. It also calls upon more developed countries to assist less developed nations through technology transfer and other means of assistance.
Each country attending the conference. prepared and distributed a national report that gave the status of current activities and plans for the future on risk assessment, mitigation, warning systems, and international cooperation. A call was made for accelerated technology transfer (that is, transfer and enhanced utilization of information, data, and experienced people) to reduce the increasing
international cooperation. For example, the goal of the urban hazard, risk, and mitigation program for earthquakes is to develop methodologies and strategies for making land-use, zoning, business, and consumer decisions about loss-reduction measures in urban centers throughout the Nation. Another example is the multidisciplinary studies of Mount Rainier, an active volcano in the Cascade Range of Washington State, 21 miles southeast of the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area. This volcano has been designated for focused research as a Decade Volcano, 1 of only 14 worldwide (see p. 20). The USGS operates the National Seismic Network and a nationwide streamgaging network. The seismic network is a satellite-based system consisting of digital seismicity and strong-motion instruments located in earthquake-prone regions of the Nation. Local seismicity networks managed by universities complete the national network. The stream-gaging network consists of more than 7,000 stations where continuous records of streamflow are collected and another 3,000 stations where intermittent records are collected. At the continuous-record stations, the flow rate can be determined at any moment on any day of the year. This information, collected in cooperation with many other Federal, State, and local agencies, is vital to predicting and studying floods and droughts. The USGS organizes and conducts postdisaster investigations in the United States and abroad. Through its international programs, it provides technical assistance and training in support of the IDNDR's goal of international cooperation.
Walt Hayes is an internationally recognized expert on natural hazards and their effects on society.