International Groundwater Conference
Karen Ross, Gordon Burns among the more than 150 speakers at #AgGroundwater conference linking science and policy in San Francisco


Organized by the Water Education Foundation and the UC Davis Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair, Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: 2nd International Conference Linking Science and Policy provided scientists, policymakers, agricultural and environmental stakeholders, government officials and consultants with the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world.

Check out the UC Davis website for more information and a program for the 2016 conference. You can also read the abstracts here. On Twitter, check the hashtag #AgGroundwater for tweets about the conference.

Groundwater is the lifeline for many rural and agricultural regions and their associated cultures and populations around the globe and a cornerstone of global food production. Groundwater constitutes nearly half the world’s drinking water and much of the world’s irrigation water supply.

More than 190 speakers plus poster presenters from 30 countries were on hand. The conference featured several plenary sessions and four concurrent tracks offering a wide range of policy and technical presentations.

Session topics included:

  • Salinity policy
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Environmental justice
  • Modeling and data
  • Nitrate policy
  • Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

The conference also featured discussions about threats to groundwater, such as overuse; salinity; nonpoint source pollution from agricultural activities, animal farming, ranching, and forestry activities; agricultural groundwater impacts to surface water; and groundwater quality and quantity conflicts at the urban-rural interface, which have reached global dimensions and threaten the very livelihood of this planet.

The Foundation and UC Davis sponsored a similar conference in 2010. The 2016 conference was held June 28-30 at the same location – the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport in Burlingame.

High-Profile Speakers:

Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture

Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues internationally, nationally and in California. Prior to her current position, she was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers and vice president of the Agricultural Council of California.

Ann Mills, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, USDA

Ann Mills has responsibility for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners to conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources.

America’s farms, ranches and forests provide 87 percent of the surface supply of drinking water in America. USDA programs play a significant role in protecting the nation’s supply of clean abundant water.

Gordon Burns, Undersecretary of California Environmental Protection Agency

Gordon Burns was appointed Undersecretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in December 2011. Prior to his appointment, he spent most of his career as an attorney in the California Attorney General’s Office. 

From 1999 to 2006, he was a Deputy Attorney General in the Land Law Section. Beginning in 2006, he served as Deputy Solicitor General, supervising all of the State’s civil cases in the Supreme Court. From 2010 until his appointment, he was an attorney at the Resources Law Group, where he led the firm’s climate change, land use and transportation program.

Bill Alley, Science and Technology Director for the National Groundwater Association NGWA and former USGS Groundwater Chief

Bill Alley assumed his NGWA position after 18 years as chief of the Office of Groundwater at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). During his USGS career, he was a hydrologist in the Colorado District’s Surface Water Branch, Systems Analysis Group.

He also served as the groundwater coordinator in the National Water Quality Assessment Program and coordinator of the Regional Aquifer System Analysis Program. At the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), he has been a director of the Scientists and Engineers Division, served on various committees and task groups and co-chaired the 2007 NGWA Ground Water Summit.

Sponsorships and Exhibitor Opportunities Available

See “sponsorship opportunities” and “exhibitor opportunities” attached at upper right hand side of this webpage under “related links” or at the bottom.

Supported by the National Science Foundation

Cooperating Organizations:

Registration Included:

Registration for the three-day conference was $695 and included lunch and coffee breaks June 28, 29 and 30 and a hosted reception and poster session June 28.

Refund Policy:

The deadline to cancel and receive a full refund was two weeks prior to the first day of the conference due to hotel and meal bookings. Substitutions were allowed up to three business days before the conference.


Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010

Referring Pages