Campus: CSU Long Beach -- August 5, 2005

2 Teams of Cal State Long Beach Professors, Students Receive Grants to Research Water-Supply Solutions

Two teams of professors and students at California State University, Long Beach -- led by Professors Darwin Hall and Antonella Sciortino -- received nearly $20,000 in grants through the Southern California World Water Forum to research local water-supply solutions that could result in global benefits.

Hall, a professor of economics, and his team received a $9,000 grant for their proposal titled “Integrating Marginal Cost Water Pricing and Best Conservation Management Practices.” Sciortino, an assistant professor of civil engineering and construction engineering management, and her team were awarded $10,000 for their project titled “Conservation of Irrigation Water by Onsite Recycling.”

In all, 12 projects from faculty and students at eight Southern California colleges and universities received grants totaling $110,000 from the Southern California World Water Forum, a program that includes the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Water for People, Friends of the United Nations and the Family of Southern California Water Agencies.

“This is an outstanding way to help solve water supply and quality problems at grassroots and global levels while involving college students in meaningful projects that provide valuable educational benefits,” said State Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena), honorary co-chair of the Southern California World Water Forum. He also chairs the Senate Committee on Education and is a former university professor and administrator.

The 12 winning projects were winnowed from 18 submissions by an evaluation panel that included engineers, educators, scientists and water resource managers.

“We’re very pleased and excited about this award,” said Hall, director of the Environmental Science and Policy program at CSULB. “It’s really an opportunity for students to gain some professional skills and make a real professional commitment.”

Hall’s team’s project has three parts: 1) redesigning water rates to provide strong incentives to conserve water, 2) re-designing the water bill so that customers can readily understand the economic incentive and discover that there are ways to conserve water and save money, and 3) providing customers with information on water saving appliances and landscaping that conserve water and reduce the cost of water to customers, the utility, and Southern California, while permitting the regional economy to grow.

“I feel the MWD recognized the real merit of this program, which was student designed and is student run,” Hall noted. “This is an opportunity to help solve a real problem as well as show a high level of innovation. There are elements of this proposal that could be used in the developing world. So, the impact of this proposal is not just local, but global.”

Sciortino, who collaborated with two department colleagues -- Jeremy Redman and Tariq Shehab -- on the project, applauded the $10,000 award to her team as it confronts one of California’s most pressing concerns -- water conservation.

The goal of her team’s project is to design a system that can be buried under the soil to collect irrigation water. Water is gathered through a drainage system toward a collection device where it can be used again for irrigation. Most of the project’s funding will support the construction of a scale model of the system as well as a working version that will water a real lawn.

“California uses a lot of water for irrigation that is not always needed. This system was devised to save that water and it turned out to be just the kind of project the MWD was looking for,” Sciortino pointed out. “Working together, I hope we’ll be able to build a system that can find a wide scale application for homeowners, parks and golf courses.”

Sciortino said the MWD will disperse the money in August, and the project must be completed by January 2006. The prototype, she continued, will be accompanied by a report on the complete design. Then, there will be a presentation to the MWD in the spring 2006.

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