As part of CAP’s Know Your Water series, you will be meeting some of the employees who work each day to ensure Colorado River water flows through our 336-mile aqueduct to reach our municipal, agricultural, industrial and tribal customers.
Today, learn more about Mohammed Mahmoud from Colorado River Programs via his words and by watching his video.
Q: In a nutshell, what do you do for CAP?
A: I work within CAP’s Colorado River Program department. We focus on all Colorado River issues that affect or involve CAP. This includes modeling current and future Colorado River water supply, tracking Colorado River Basin hydrologic conditions such as precipitation, snowpack, and runoff, and conducting technical analysis related to existing and new water policy. Ultimately, everything we do is connected to maintaining the reliability of CAP’s Colorado River supply into the future. For example, a couple of efforts that I currently work on include CAP’s climate change adaptation activities and weather modification (as a water augmentation initiative).
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
A: I was studying to be a civil engineer, but I had yet to make a decision on which discipline to pursue within civil engineering. I narrowed my choices down to construction or water resources. I also knew that I wanted to continue on to grad school which required conducting research and producing innovative work. There was not much research potential in construction, so I specialized in water resources instead. I also think my father was secretly guiding my career path because he was also a civil engineer that specialized in water resources.
Q: How does the work you do on a daily basis affect our water supply?
A: Simply put, I (and the Colorado River Programs team) work on activities that help sustain CAP’s Colorado River supply. We analyze and assess the long-term risks to our water supply such as a Colorado River shortage or prolonged hydrological droughts and put into action strategies that help CAP mitigate or adapt to those risks. Strategies can include exploring water augmentation projects, supporting water conservation initiatives, or implementing water management/policy changes.
Q: What are some of the technical advances that allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently?
A: Modern aviation. While the current state of domestic flying is not glamorous, it is very important for my job. I attend a lot of meetings that include representatives from other Basin States, the federal government (Bureau of Reclamation), and the republic of Mexico. These meetings can include negotiations on projects and agreements, policy discussions, and technical workshops. While other modern technology tools like teleconference calls and webinars are also extremely helpful, they can never truly replace being in the same room as the folks you are working with on large-scale regional water issues. It’s an old-school way of doing things, but is also still the most effective.
Q: What's the most challenging part of your work?
A: Although my job is mostly a technical one, there is still a great amount of human interaction involved. And while I enjoy the working relationships I have developed within (and without) the Colorado River Basin, the human element can also be the most challenging. For example, we recently signed a multi-year Colorado River weather modification agreement with partners from across the basin. The process from inception to execution took about two years. The technical aspects of the agreement did not take long to figure out but there was a lot of negotiating, renegotiating and back and forth discussions. It required a lot of patience and persistence at times when the whole process looked like it would completely stall and not move forward.
Q: What's the most gratifying part of your job?
A: The most gratifying part of my job is directly seeing the net benefit of what I do at CAP. Protecting CAP’s Colorado River supply and enhancing that supply’s long-term reliability is critical to central Arizona. Metro-Phoenix and Tucson would not be where they are today without the water resources CAP provides. And I find it personally gratifying that I play some part through my job in trying to keep it that way.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at CAP?
A: I know everyone says this, but for me it is absolutely true: the people. I have truly enjoyed working with a lot of people from CAP. Since we are not a huge organization in terms of the number of the people that work here, CAP can be a very friendly place to work at. Everyone mostly knows everyone else, everyone says hello and smiles, and people genuinely care about each other’s well-being. Unlike other workplaces, CAP’s work environment is not corporately competitive, cold and sterile, or rigidly hierarchical.