International scientists join WDC enter team

Arkville — Three scientists, known around the world for their work on global water issues, have agreed to serve on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Water Discovery Center (WDC.)
Dr. David Seckler, an economist specializing in water resources with Winrock Water will chair the committee, according to WDC President, Gary Gailes. Dr. Jack Keller, a leading engineer in the field of irrigated agricultural development at Keller Bliesner Engineering and Dr. Roberto Lenton, a senior advisor at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, will join the committee and begin work immediately.
“To have one of these individuals advising us would be an incredible honor,” said Gailes in announcing the committee. “To have three of the top 10 international experts on water all agree to serve, puts us on the map and gives us the maximum level of credibility in both the scientific and political communities.”
The Technical Advisory Committee will have both immediate and long-term roles. The group will work with designers, advising on content and reviewing exhibits for accuracy. Additionally, the scientists have identified dozens of institutes around the world with scientific studies on water issues awaiting interpretation for lay audiences. “We are eager to help WDC raise awareness of the coming water crisis,” said Dr. Seckler. “By facilitating translation of complicated research into formats others can use, critical information can reach those developing solutions.”
Seckler who has led research on projections of world water demand and supply, served as director general of the International Water Management Institute from 1995 until 2000. Keller’s consulting activities help farmers utilize low-cost improved irrigation technologies. Lenton, served as director of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Sustainable Energy and Environment Division in New York, during which time he was UNDP’s lead person in helping to launch the Global Water Partnership.
All of the scientists visited the Catskill region over the Columbus Day weekend to learn about the area, the New York City Watershed, and the plans for the WDC. “These three men have been living our mission in their distinguished careers,” said Gailes during their visit. “It is gratifying to see them apply that passion to this project.”
Though envisioned as a global museum even at its inception, the WDC has significantly increased the scope of its work during the last two years and now plans a $25 million facility on county Route 38 in Arkville. Of the effort, Keller said, “When I came here, it was because people wanted me to see your project. Now that I’ve been here and seen it, I feel like this is our project.”
Following the visit of the three experts, WDC officials had the opportunity to review plans with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis and with Regional Directors Willie Janeway and Gene Kelly. All pledged their cooperation and support for the project, which has also received the strong support of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. More information is available by visiting the website at or by calling Martie Gailes, administrative manager at 254-5354.