There's a lot about water in California that we don't know. We need more data.

Author: 
Michael Kiparsky, Joshua Viers
March 23, 2016

This Letter to the Editor was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on March 23, 2016. 

To the editor: While showing images of recently refreshed reservoirs in the northern part of the state, The Times was right to make sure its readers knew that California's drought isn't over. What you see at the surface — in lakes and rivers — can belie what's underneath. ("Reservoirs are getting a big boost from 'Miracle March' — but the drought isn't over yet," March 18)

There is so much we don't understand about California's hydrology and water supply.

Without better data — and the systems to turn raw data into usable information — we can't prepare for the next drought or flood. Advanced measurement methods should be deployed, existing data made public, and dormant stream gages funded and brought back online.

Turning these data into usable information is necessary to support sound management decisions. Modeling, policy analysis and stakeholder engagement are also in need of broader local, state and federal support.

Better data systems can result in better decisions for California and the world, but without increased support for better water information, we won't be able to harness the momentum generated by World Water Day.

--Michael Kiparsky, UC Berkeley, and Joshua Viers, UC Merced. The writers are directors of the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative.