Volume 6 | Issue 2 | July 2019
California Institute for Water Resources
University of California| Division of Ag and Natural Resources
On the left, researchers in the Zimmer group prepare ground penetrating radar in the field, photo by Noah Lyman. On the right, doctoral student Kelley Drechsler explaining to almond growers the automated system she uses to implement site-specific irrigation by variety, photo by Isaya Kisekka.
Announcing our newly supported research projects
The California Institute for Water Resources leverages federal investment to address critical water issues in the state. This year, we are supporting projects on a range of timely topics:

Health impacts of impaired California water quality : Ensuring safe drinking water for communities across California is a large challenge. Growing awareness of inadequate access, especially for disadvantaged communities, has elevated water quality issues to the state level. This study will advance understanding of vulnerable systems and water borne disease as the state seeks to promote solutions for communities with water quality concerns. Investigator: Maura Allaire, UC Irvine. 

Groundwater regulation and land fallowing : Groundwater storage is declining in many of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. Groundwater basin sustainability is further threatened by climate change because groundwater acts as a buffer during times of drought. This research will unpack the relationship between water scarcity and land use to predict how different water policies will influence the amount of land that is fallowed. Investigator: Ellen Bruno, UC Berkeley.

Precision irrigation management in almond orchards : Frequent droughts in California, coupled with recent changes in water policy, incentivizes farmers to adopt water conservation practices. This project emphasizes sustainable irrigation management for almond trees. Improving orchard water productivity will increase profits and enhance groundwater sustainability through implementation of practices such as regulated deficit irrigation. Investigator: Isaya Kisekka, UC Davis.

The effect of pricing structure on urban water demand : Determining the impact of pricing structure on residential water demand in California is an important aspect of water conservation. Public utilities in arid regions struggle to balance supply and demand of water resources. This project will use price and pricing structure data from major water utilities in California and evaluate residential customers’ demand response to different pricing structures. Investigator: Mehdi Nemati, UC Riverside. 

Understanding the effects of drought on rivers : In most of California, multi-year droughts are projected to increase by the end of the century. Identifying ways to balance human and ecosystem needs for freshwater in California’s increasingly variable hydroclimate will be essential for future management efforts. This project will help in understanding where and when drought severity and river fragmentation may pose an emerging threat. Investigator: Albert Ruhi, UC Berkeley. 

Water storage for California’s oak woodlands : Oak woodlands cover approximately ten percent of California, represent one of the most biologically diverse habitats, and provide a broad range of ecosystem services. The conservation of these ecosystems is a priority for the state. This project will apply novel approaches to better understand controls on water storage and movement in a semi-arid coastal oak woodland watershed. Investigator: Margaret Zimmer, UC Santa Cruz. 

Institute updates
Representative Jim Costa of California’s 16th District speaking at the National Institutes for Water Resources annual meeting. Photo by Faith Kearns.
In January, Institute Director Doug Parker turned leadership of the UC ANR Water Strategic Initiative over to David Lewis, Watershed Management Advisor and Marin County Director. The Institute will continue to work closely with David and the Water Strategic Initiative leadership panel to ensure coordination and communication between our UC ANR and CIWR programs. The Institute continues to work with the agricultural industry and our state agency and regulatory partners to train Certified Crop Advisors in nutrient management and to create a new self-sustaining program for future training and certification. Doug recently served as the co-chair for the cropping systems suitability subcommittee for the California Department of Water Resources, Research Advisory Committee on Flood MAR (Managed Aquifer Recharge). This effort is helping to guide California’s efforts to increase viability and use of this valuable water management tool. As President-Elect for the National Institutes for Water Resources, Doug organized the group’s annual meeting in Washington DC. A highlight of the meeting was the presentation on water management and policy by Representative Jim Costa of California’s 16th District.

In April, CIWR’s program, The Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, held a joint workshop with the Botin Foundation in Madrid, Spain. Several Forum advisory committee members shared information about how California’s water management and legal/institutional structures are being tested by climate change. Similar presentations provided a perspective from Spain and made for an interesting conference that stretched well past its original agenda. As part of his visit to Spain, Doug also visited colleagues at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology ( IRTA) in the Catalonian region. Discussions centered on IRTA-led research projects and ways to further develop ties between IRTA, UC ANR, and the Institute’s research and extension programs. The Institute also helped plan an international summit on groundwater management in the US/Mexico border region, as well as the annual UCOWR/NIWR Water Resources Conference. Lastly, Doug was invited to speak at the Water Futures conference at the University of Padova, Italy. There, Doug spoke of the work that the Institute does and had conversations with University faculty and administrators about the possibility of creating a similar program in Italy.

Faith Kearns, Academic Coordinator, has recently published several articles. They include a piece on the critical need for climate adaptation in California, published in Bay Nature, and a piece co-authored with Max Moritz on a new emphasis for wildfire risk in the state. Her work has also been covered at CNN, The Guardian, Mother Jones, Slate, Salon, Ventura County Star, and more. She will be on a panel with writers Mark Arax and Diana Marcum for the Climate One program The Land of Dreams and Drought at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on July 17th. She also recently led or participated in several science communication training sessions including at the University of Utah, UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab, UC Davis, and the National Sustainability Summit & National Extension Energy Summit. She is currently working on a book about science communication on emotional and contentious issues with Island Press.
Isaya Kisekka explains to students how the small footprint cosmic ray measures soil water (left). Nell Green Nylen (far right) and her colleagues stop for a view of San Francisco Bay on a hike above the UC Berkeley campus, photo by Lidia Cano Pecharromán.
New on our blog The Confluence
We've covered lots of new issues and people on our blog, The Confluence. For example, you can read a guest post by David Lewis, UC Cooperative Extension County Director for Marin County, on the beauty of headwater streams.

In addition, you can hear from Evelyn Ward-Valdez, a graduate student at UC Irvine about what it's like to document drought as an undocumented researcher. Other posts include interviews with legal scholar Nell Green Nylen and agricultural economist Ellen Bruno, both at UC Berkeley. Other topics include water and emotional health, public health implications of drought, and 21st century water management in southern California.

“A reliable supply of water for drinking, growing food and sustaining our natural resources remains one of California’s greatest challenges. UC’s California Institute for Water Resources is vital to integrating California’s research, extension, and education programs to help mitigate current water-related issues and develop practical long-term solutions.”

Secretary Karen Ross, California Dept. of Food & Agriculture