The Sustainable World Video Contest: Imagining and Creating a Sustainable World

UCTV Sustainable California is opening up our site to students for the first time. Here’s a chance for you to tell the world what you are doing and how YOU are going to change and improve it.

You are part of the world’s most respected public university and are taking part in a great life-changing process that most of us can’t take part in – the learning opportunities...


Informing the Implementation of California’s Open and Transparent Water Data Act through Research and Engagement

Our new report, Data for Water Decision Making: Informing the Implementation of California’s Open and Transparent Water Data Act through Research and Engagement, is a multi-institution collaboration led by the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

This report presents the results from an effort to examine how water data system can...

Dr. Helen Dahlke’s research contributes to restoring California’s water reserves.

Dr. Helen Dahlke is an Associate Professor of Integrated Hydrologic Sciences in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis.

Dahlke was interviewed by UC Water’s Program Coordinator Leigh Bernacchi for the release of the UCTV Sustainable California video and open-access publication on the alfalfa research in California Agriculture. To learn more about Dahlke's...


Scientists at UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI), UC Irvine, UC Davis and the USDA Forest Service have enumerated the mechanisms that serve as master regulators of streamflow and drought intensity by studying California’s 2012-15 drought. Their findings are detailed in a new paper published in Scientific Reports.

Researchers used measurements from the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) in California’s Kings River Basin to pinpoint four distinct mechanisms...


This article was originally published on the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory website. 

Dr. Roger Bales presented the John F. Nye Lecture at the American Geophysical Union's 2017 Fall Meeting in December. His 45-minute presentation, Making up for lost snow: lessons from a warming Sierra Nevada, is available to watch online.

The American Geophysical Union's Nye Lecture is awarded to recognize "an outstanding cryospheric scientist and...


The millions of trees that died in the Sierra Nevada during California’s five-year drought may have actually helped the state’s water supply once the historic dry spell finally ended, according to a new study.

Scientists led by UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute examined how much water was being absorbed by plant life in 1 million acres of Sierra forest along the watershed that feeds into the Kings River east of Fresno. The study, published Friday in the journal Scientific...


Trading Sustainably: Critical Considerations for Local Groundwater Markets Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management ActThe Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) potentially opens the door for local groundwater markets. However, it does not provide guidance about when such markets might be useful and appropriate. 

While carefully designed and implemented markets could help achieve...


Excited to kick off the inaugural UC Water Academy - 12 students, 12 days, 1200+ miles #ucwa2017

— UC Water (@UCWater) June 20, 2017


Follow @ucwater or #ucwa2017 for the latest on UC Water Academy as they travel around California, studying the state's water infrastructure, through June 2017. 

UC Water Leads UCTV's Sustainable California Channel

Water is a delicate balancing act in California. When the scales tip in the wrong direction, the consequences can have national effects. Nobody knows this better than UC Water Co-Director Joshua Viers.

“More than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley,” he said. “The problem is that the state has historically relied heavily on groundwater for agricultural irrigation, and we haven’...


On June 9, we released the second issue of UCTV Sustainable California – a resource for learning about University of California research on how our state is leading protection of biodiversity, efficient natural resources use, and ideas for low-impact living.

With the growing season in full swing, this issue covers several of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources projects.

Our state parks serve many purposes, including recreation and rangelands. In a fun video, narrated by someone who...
California has much more potential to store water underground in aquifers than in surface reservoirs. The state should be focused on this opportunity for future years, writes scientist Mohammad Safeeq.Dr. Mohammad Safeeq measures snow depth at the Kings River Experimental Watersheds site in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Photo: Michelle Gilmore.


CALIFORNIA’S RECENT DROUGHT was the worst in memory. However, in a relatively quick turnaround, this year the state’s water infrastructure is...


Originally publishded by the North Central Region Water Network on 3/27/2017. Learn more about Helen Dahlke's work on 

USDA-Funded Fellowship Enables Regional/State Water Experts to Incorporate Systems Thinking in Education, Outreach, and Extension.

ThinkWater is excited to announce the selection of ten leaders in water education, outreach, and extension to be ThinkWater Fellows for 2017-18. The ThinkWater fellowship builds a cohort of scholars and...


UC Water supports water research across the UC system as a network of scholars, students and partners. To engage new investigators and to increase the depth of our ongoing, existing research programs, we fund $100,000 annually in research proposals.

We seek proposals for 2017-2018, due Monday, May 15, 2017, 11:59:59 PM (PDT). 

Request for Proposals Apply OnlineBudget FormFAQs

There are two types of Challenge Grants available for University of California PIs:

Match Grants...

Imagine H2O™, the water innovation accelerator, today announced the results of the 2017 California Water Policy Challenge, an initiative that solicits fresh policy ideas that enable the deployment of innovative data technologies.

Data is essential to help California’s farmers, businesses and communities better monitor and manage water resources. Effective data solutions exist, but policy barriers often prevent broad adoption in municipal, agricultural and industrial markets. A...


Dr. Mohammad SafeeqResearch Scientist, Sierra Nevada Research Institute, University of California, MercedInvestigator, UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative

The 2012-2016 drought was arguably the worst in memory. In a quick turnaround, the state’s infrastructure is full and water managers are battling with the wettest winter, and possibly year, on record since 1985.

Statewide average precipitation hit a record high from October 2016 to February 2017.Also, note the...

Originally published in the New York Times on 2/28/2017, this excerpt features UC Water's Co-Director, Prof. Joshua Viers and a UC Merced PhD student, Bobby Nakamoto. 

WALNUT GROVE, Calif. — Until a few weeks ago, the McCormack-Williamson Tract in the California Delta was an island of low-lying farmland, more than two square miles protected from the surrounding rivers and sloughs by earthen levees.

Today the tract is an immense lake, up to 15 feet deep, with fish prowling the...


Originally published in the Sacramento Bee, 2/8/17:

Few people realize how outdated our systems for water information are. Because of data limitations, real-time, transparent decisions about drought management, flood response and groundwater protection have eluded the state for the past century. Without basic numbers on where, when and how much water is available and being used, we can’t improve how we manage our most...


Meet the Minds: Roger Bales on Climate Adaptation and Water Security originally was published by Water Deeply on 1/18/17. 

Water will be central to how we, and the environment, adapt to climate change, says University of California professor Roger Bales, who studies climate adaptation and water security.

HOW WELL IS our environment and society adapting to climate change? That is one question that has made up the research efforts of Roger Bales, a distinguished professor of...


The $854,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation supports research and solutions for the sustainability of groundwater in California. Andrew Fisher and his UCSC collaborator Chad Saltikov described the "once in a lifetime experience" first on the UCSC Newscenter.

A team of faculty and students at UC Santa Cruz has received a grant of $854,000 from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for a groundwater sustainability project that involves managing runoff from storms to...


Don't miss a thing! With 20,000 scientists descending on San Francisco, Dec. 12-16, we could all use a guide. 

You can access a public calendar with all of UC Water's talks. 

Or view/download UC Water's list. All of the links are live if you want to read the abstract. 

See UC Merced's table for printed copies or email Leigh Bernacchi. 



Offered exclusively through UC Water, and led by Professor Joshua Viers (UC Merced) and Professor Ted Grantham (UC Berkeley), the UC Water Academy is a spring/summer intensive course open to select undergraduate students and first-year graduate students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced, and UC Santa Cruz.

The course is intended to train the next generation of California water leaders via immersive learning about California’s water resources, policies, and management approaches.


Alison Whipple has long been involved in California’s Delta. She co-authored the  San Francisco Estuary Institute's important and beautiful book titled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study. In April, she was awarded a Delta Science Fellowship.

Six months later, Whipple's work on using seasonal floodplains to restore ecosystems earned top honors for poster presentation at the Bay-Delta Science Conference. She was selected among 46 fellow student researchers who shared...


Professor Helen Dahlke has stood on glaciers in Europe and studied Sierra Nevada snowmelt streams. She’s working with alfalfa farmers to get water back in the ground. And now she’s educating Congress on the future of US water.

A native of Germany, Professor Dahlke established her research program in the Land, Air and Water Resources Department of UC Davis in 2013. She focuses on catchment and experimental hydrology, but her expertise in hydro-climate interactions is what led her to the...


Originally shared on University of California, Merced University News.

Grad student Lorenzo Booth is working on a water-footprinting project.

UC Merced graduate student Lorenzo Booth’s research into more efficient use of water for agriculture has earned him accolades from the American Water Resources Association for not only producing information, but presenting solutions.

“If we can make the process of growing food more efficient and sustainable,” that’s a good thing,” Booth said...


Excerpted from Los Angeles Times article, reported from Pinecrest, California, on 11/28/16. 

UC Water Director weighs in on opportunities for managing forests for wildfire, water supply, and climate change.

The idea that forest thinning can produce more downstream water is not radical, as several studies over the last few years have suggested that’s the case. But it’s never been proved on a large scale and there’s no hard data to pinpoint the potential benefit.

“The question is,...

UC Merced student Lorenzo Booth uses maps to find the best climate for crops

The California drought has exacerbated some of the challenges farmers face.

For example, they have to spend more on water, and not just because there is less to go around. A warmer climate causes water to evaporate faster and can force plants to consume more for the same amount of growth.

But researchers at the University of California, Merced, are finding where crops would use water most efficiently so...


The State Water Board is pleased to announce the release of a new report, titled: “An Evaluation of California’s Special Act Groundwater Districts,” prepared by Ruth Langridge with the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with assistance from Stephen Sepaniak and Esther Conrad. Prepared under contract with the State Water Board, the report is a follow-up to the previously released report: “An Evaluation of California’s Adjudicated...


UC Water researchers were busy this summer with fieldwork and conferences.

Chief among the conferences was the big international conference. A synthesis of the Towards Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture event held in Burlingame, CA in July has been published in the Groundwater Resources Association of California journal Hydrovisions. Our collaborator Thomas Harter and Davis Director Graham Fogg shaped the program to address major questions of the Sustainable...


Over the summer, Zeshi Zheng, a PhD student at UC Berkeley working with Profs. Roger Bales, Martha Conklin, and Steve Glaser, passed his qualifying exams. For most doctoral programs, the qualifying exams combine written responses to questions from committee members and an oral defense. Passing the exams indicates a student is prepared for writing their dissertation. 

Zeshi is now officially a PhD candidate and will be writing his dissertation on snow-water equivalent modeling. 



This article was originally published in California Agriculture on August 25, 2016. It is based on a keynote address presented to the Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture conference, June 2016.

pdfvideo full text

California is grappling with the implications of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a visionary and potentially revolutionary law that could profoundly change the way water is managed in the state.

The nature of the revolution, however, is not yet...


An innovative program in the Pajaro Valley offers landowners incentives to collect stormwater run-off to recharge groundwater. The program could be the forerunner of potential ways to successfully replenish groundwater levels across California.

This article was originally published on Water Deeply by Padma Nagappan. Andy Fisher is one of the co-directors of UC Water and has worked closely with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency to develop this pilot program. 

Rain from storms...

Prof. Graham Fogg shares his seasoned perspective on how we can know how much groundwater and surface water we have and how to manage them together with Water Deeply. Visit Water Deeply for the full article. 

California can stave off a water crisis if it learns to manage both surface water and groundwater, which hasn’t happened yet. A better understanding is also needed of what’s at stake if overdrafts in groundwater are ignored.

AS CALIFORNIA SUFFERS its fifth year of drought, much...


Excerpted from the UCANR California Institute for Water Resources blog, The Confluence, on a new article by two UC Water faculty, Ted Grantham and Josh Viers. Read the full article.

California has long been home to a rich array of native freshwater fish, including some species found nowhere else in the world. There is the Paiute sculpin that favors cold waters moving over the shallow gravel of a mountain streambed, the voraciously predatory Sacramento pikeminnow that can be found in...


Originally published on Water Deeply 7/7/16.

California faces a host of water issues, which is why good policy leaders are important. In the first installment of our “Experts to Watch” series, here are nine people who are contributing to policy solutions in the state.

More than four years of drought in California have made the need for smart and forward-looking water policy initiatives abundantly clear. About 83 percent of the state is currently still in drought, according to the most...


Originally published by our colleagues at the California Institute for Water Resources, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

Andy Fisher describing a managed aquifer recharge project in the Pajaro Valley of California.Photo: Michael Kiparsky. 


It's been a busy couple weeks for Andy Fisher, a hydrogeology professor at UC Santa Cruz. Two of his students presented research in Mexico while another finished his master's thesis and hurriedly returned to active...


What will it take to successfully manage groundwater in California?

This was the topic of a recent workshop jointly held by UC Water and the PPIC Water Policy Center. The workshop brought together researchers, policy makers, and water managers to reflect on the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in California’s Central Valley, the state’s leading agricultural region. Here are some key takeaways.

Groundwater recharge should become more...


Erfan Goharian has only worked with UC Water for a few months but has made substantial contributions to the American-Cosumnes Rivers integrated modeling research program. 

And on May 18, 2016, Dr. Goharian earned top honors as the Best Speaker at the UC Davis Postdoctoral Research Symposium  for his talk on "Supported decision-making for Integrated Water Resources Management." Also known as IRWM, Goharian's research supports bringing together all the water-related pieces of the puzzle...


Andrew Fisher, a UC Water director and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network, shared his views on the PPIC Blog regarding opportunities for compensating for groundwater recharge. In light of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Fisher is hopeful that net metering and other creative solutions will encourage a variety of groundwater users to contribute to groundwater recharge. 

Paying for Groundwater Recharge

Water levels in many of California’s groundwater...

Water and Fire conference leads to policy position paper

When Californians stop watching for snow and start preparing for fires is a perfect time to focus on policy and adaptation.

The Institute on Science for Global Policy and California State University, Sacramento hosted a climate change conference to guide policy and science. Water and Fire: Impacts of Climate Change was a free and unique event that brought together five leading experts into a discussion forum with 200...


Sierra-Net from CITRIS Media on Vimeo.

This article on Dr. Steven Glaser and soon-to-be Dr. Ziran Zhang was originally published on UC Berkeley's Engineering blog. It features UC Water investigators Steven Glaser and Roger Bales.

Ziran Zhang, a civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. candidate at Berkeley, is up ahead breaking trail. The movement of his snowshoes creates a crunch-drag, crunch-drag rhythm. It’s almost spring in the Sierra Nevada, and the bright sun gives...