UC researchers launch UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative


UC schools collaborate in improving statewide water management, security

In December 2015, several researchers from the University of California (UC) gathered to create the UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative, an initiative which focuses on improving water management and sustainability in California.

According to Graham Fogg, a UC Davis professor of hydrogeology and one of the initiative’s six directors, the idea for this initiative began when the UC Office of the President put out a request for proposals for multi-campus collaborative research projects.

“My colleagues and I from the campuses got together and came up with an idea for a water security and sustainability center that we thought would harness all of our strengths and have an immediate impact on California’s water management and sustainability,” Fogg said.

Both Fogg and Joshua Viers, a director for the initiative at UC Merced, emphasize that this initiative focuses on researching the most efficient ways of storing and managing water, such as reservoir management, floodplains management, ground water recharge, ground water management and runoff.

“[This initiative is] important because it’s hard to manage what you don’t measure,” Fogg said. “One of our key goals is to make the water resources conditions or the store of the water more transparent how much water is there in these various stores […] and how much is going to be there in the future and what can we do differently in the short term and the long term to make our water resources more secure?”

Viers adds that this initiative is especially crucial because California is dealing with El Niño and the impacts of the drought.

Robert Gailey, a Ph.D student at UC Davis working on groundwater management research under the initiative, believes that this project is important because water plays a key role in everyday life.

“Water is really important to California, not only for agriculture […] but [also because] it’s important to our economy for agriculture and it’s important to our sustainable food sources,” Gailey said.

Viers said that the UC campuses need this initiative in order to make a greater impact on water management and research.

“What makes the University of California really unique is that each one of the campuses is fantastic, [and] while a lot can be done individually […] there were opportunities that were being missed because we weren’t coordinating our activities,” Viers said. “It was clear that water resources research was not well-coordinated across the campuses.”

Viers believes that this initiative will make the UC a leader in preserving water in California.

“The long term goal, of course, is to show that the University of California not only brings vital scientific information […] but that we’re [also] leaders in technology information and novel ways of conducting science that can improve not just the infrastructure surrounding water, but the institution itself,” Viers said.

Written by: ALYSSA VANDENBERG – campus@theaggie.org