Out West student blog

Water's End

Greyson posing with his summer project. (photo credit: Greyson Assa)

By Greyson Ayi Francks Assa '21
Hometown: Bunn, North Carolina
Major: Earth Systems
Water Innovation Intern, Washington Water Trust

The time I have spent with my team from the Washington Water Trust (WWT) feels like a lifetime. While spending this summer on a computer screen was a unique experience (though, I will say, much of my free time is usually behind a screen anyways; not too proud of that!), I was able to build relationships with my team that can only be attributed to this circumstance.  Daily 8am meetings: me groggily getting ready, making tea, and walking ten feet from my brother’s futon in San Francisco, which I called home, to my standing desk. Opening Microsoft Teams and saying good morning to Jason and Emily and Nicole. It was this morning routine that made the summer such a remarkable one. Now that has come to an end. But only an end for me.  

Following the close of my internship as a Water Rights intern for WWT (which ended with a farewell song that was embarrassing yet endearing), I received a message from one of my co-workers. She said that she will be using the Water Rights Assessment I had just finished to begin looking at the properties I recommended for acquisition; I was surprised to hear that my work would be put to use so quickly. I worked on a multitude of projects with my team, but I was given the autonomy to spearhead the Bagley Creek Water Rights Assessment. 

This assessment was part of an ongoing project called the Dungeness Water Exchange (DWE). DWE serves to acquire full or partial water rights for the mitigation of water usage in the Dungeness basin in order to support streamflow in the Dungeness River and other streams and tributaries. The selection of Bagley Creek was determined by the difficulty for water to be mitigated in that area. For the final report I submitted, I got to do extensive research on water rights history as well as data analysis on consumptive water use, mitigation, and streamflow benefit. This looked like hours of skimming through ancient (early 1900s!) documents, data analysis and map making with GIS, and using the Washington State Department of Ecology’s databases to locate information. Compiled all together, the data in the report is now being used in the first stages of new potential acquisitions.

There is so much knowledge I gained about the history of law and politics around water in Washington State. I started at WWT not even knowing that a water right existed, and now I’ve completed a full comprehensive analysis. And though this accomplishment is more than I could’ve imagined in one summer, I am more appreciative of the amazing people I worked with and the relationships I built. 

I leave WWT with a heavy heart, filled with thanks and admiration for the team I was a part of and a mind overflowing with new curiosities about the future of water in our country and the world. 

Read more at the Out West Student Blog »

Recent Center News

Above, Shasta Dam under construction in 1944. The 600 foot tall structure created California’s largest reservoir on the upper Sacramento River. U.S.
Colorado river reservoirs at historic lows; southwestern cities adapt to water shortages; nearly 100% of California’s energy demand supplied by renewable energy for one day; Pacific native representatives call for a UN investigation into Hawaiian oil spill; and other recent environmental reads.
This year's Rural West Conference took place on April 8 and 9 in Pocatello, Idaho, where three engaging panels explored regional issues related to wildfire, the future of ranching, and water.