Collaboration-themed SJRRP Science Meeting delivers prestigious Keys Award

Relationship-building award given for developing cutting-edge water supply forecasting tool

Media Contact: Erin Curtis, 916-978-5100,

For Release: September 13, 2018

San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Meeting
San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Meeting
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Highlighting successful collaboration to improve water supply management, two John W. Keys, III awards were presented at the 3rd biennial San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Meeting held in Sacramento, August 22 and 23.

Keeping with the meeting theme “Collaborating for the Future,” the Keys Award recipients were recognized for their joint efforts at implementing new, 21st century runoff forecasting tools for the San Joaquin watershed. Following in the wake of a 5-year drought, a collective effort unfolded to improve water management opportunities within the San Joaquin watershed using NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory which applies cutting-edge Light Detection and Ranging (or LiDAR) and hyperspectral imagery to accurately measure the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Drawing on this technology, a diverse range of stakeholders, including environmental organizations, water users and governmental agencies, rallied behind a common vision to increase user benefits in an already stretched watershed. This week, the 3rd annual NASA Airborne Snow Observatory Workshop is being held in Mammoth Lakes, California, to further advance the collaborative effort and forge new partnerships.

“Collaboration is a linchpin of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. It was fitting that we recognize individuals who exemplify that characteristic,” said Donald E. Portz, program manager for the restoration program.

This award honors the memory of former Reclamation Commissioner John W. Keys, III. Keys was well-respected for his 36 years of federal service that focused on finding solutions to the complex issues involving managing water resources. The recipients of this award are an excellent example of employees, governmental and non-governmental customers that exemplified outstanding business practices, communication, collaboration, and partnering achievements that contribute to building and strengthening relationships.

The award winners are: Bureau of Reclamation: Chad Moore; Rufino Gonzalez; Emily Thomas; Jerry Herman; National Aeronautics and Space Administration – Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Tom Painter; Judy Lai-Norling; U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agricultural Research Service: Danny Marks; Scott Havens; California Department of Water Resources: David Rizzardo; Friant Water Authority: Jeff Payne; South Valley Water Association: Dan Vink; Sierra Nevada Conservancy: Liz Van Wagtendonk; The Bay Institute: Peter Vorster.

Other individuals closely involved with ASO activities include: Bureau of Reclamation: Kaitlyn Willems; Craig Mayfield; Christian Buenrostro; Gil Reyes; Friant Water Authority: Steve Ottemoeller; Alexandra Biering; NASA – Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Kat Bormann; Michael Joyce; Lorraine Sposto; Cristina De Cesare; Dan Berisford; Elizabeth Carey; Hannah Haugen; U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service: Mark Robertson; Andrew Hendrick; Ernesto Trujillo; Micah Sandusky; Micah Johnson; California Department of Water Resources: Frank Gehrke; Mike Anderson.

More information about the San Joaquin River Restoration Program is available at

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