Bareford named national Sea Grant Water Resources Lead

From a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium news release.

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium has announced a new two-year project that will develop a roadmap for Sea Grant water resources initiatives and improve communication and coordination on water resources efforts within the network and among key partners.

Karen Bareford, of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and The University of Alabama’s Alabama Water Institute, will serve as the Sea Grant Water Resources Lead. She will provide leadership and ongoing engagement within the Sea Grant network. She will also engage with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and external partners and stakeholders.

In her new role, Bareford will coordinate with key Sea Grant personnel who work on water-related issues. She will work to engage the full scope of regional and functional areas of the network. She also will maintain the Sea Grant Water Resources Team’s momentum and work with its members to prioritize implementation needs.

“I see this as a unique opportunity for the network to revisit the priorities identified in the 10-Year NOAA Sea Grant Water Resources Vision and strategically drive future network-wide collaboration, initiatives and funding opportunities,” she said.

As part of the project, a scoping process will include a series of listening sessions and workshops with the Sea Grant network to determine the state of water resources efforts, needs and priorities. Once the needs and priorities are identified, Bareford will work with Sea Grant programs to vet them through dialogue and workshops with key water resources partners. Broad themes addressed may include environmental and human health; water infrastructure; land management, restoration, and development; and water planning and socioeconomics.

During this process, Bareford also will work to determine how the Sea Grant network can work with partners to leverage complementary activities and avoid duplicative efforts.

The Columbia River, the largest river flowing into the Pacific Ocean from North America, irrigates farmland, generates electricity and provides drinking water to communities. (Photo by K. Bareford)
The Columbia River, the largest river flowing into the Pacific Ocean from North America, irrigates farmland, generates electricity and provides drinking water to communities. (Photo by K. Bareford)

“Sea Grant’s combination of education, research and extension has tremendous value for communicating with water stakeholders in a variety of areas that have interest in how we use our water resources wisely,” Scott Rayder, executive director of the Alabama Water Institute, said. “This new roadmap will be a critical step in conveying the importance of the water economy.”

The project will end in recommendations and a formal strategic document that the Sea Grant network and other partners can use to inform competitive research announcements and additional actions to achieve water resource goals.

The National Sea Grant College Program is funding the project.

“The Sea Grant network, with its strong research capabilities, local knowledge and on-the-ground workforce, effectively identifies and capitalizes on opportunities to generate timely, practical solutions to real-world challenges,” said National Sea Grant College Program Director Jonathan Pennock. “The newly established Sea Grant Water Resources Lead will do exactly that, producing guidance about how to most effectively prioritize and address the needs of water resources stakeholders.”

Bareford has a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Florida State University. She also holds a master’s degree in outdoor recreation, with an emphasis in environmental education and leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in public affairs, both from Indiana University. Her office is located at the Alabama Water Center at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She can be reached at