The WRRC would like to congratulate Rebecca Bernat, former WRRC Graduate Research Assistant and graduate of the UArizona Environmental Science PhD program, on her recent promotion to Manager of the Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA). Established in 1996, the AWBA stores Arizona’s unused Colorado River water, as well as other water sources including effluent, and administrates long-term storage credits that can be used to firm existing water supplies. Less than two years ago, Bernat accepted a position at the AWBA as Water Resources Specialist Associate & Technical Administrator. When AWBA Director/Manager Virginia O'Connell announced her retirement earlier this year, Bernat applied for the Manager position. She expressed her appreciation for the invaluable one-on-one training she received from O’Connell, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Bernat says her interest in Arizona water began in childhood when she saw a documentary about the Grand Canyon.
Born in Paris and raised in southeastern France, Bernat was influenced by her father, whose work included building wastewater treatment plants, and her early career experiences bolstered her interest in water quality standards and environmental policy. When presented with an opportunity to pursue a PhD in the US, she decided “right away” to do it in the Grand Canyon State and began looking for programs in Arizona. Her dissertation, Managed Aquifer Recharge in Central Arizona: Long-Term Storage Credits, Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District and Effluent Reuse, prepared her well for her new position, delving into water policy analysis, aquifer recharge, and the market for long-term storage credits. WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal served as the chair of Bernat’s dissertation committee, on which WRRC Research Officer Susanna Eden also served. Bernat says joining the AWBA was “the last piece of the puzzle” for her. In May 2022, Bernat gave a WRRC webinar presentation about the AWBA, the recording of which can be viewed on our website.