Water Research

California faces growing water management challenges from factors such as climate change, aging water infrastructure, and population growth. The planning and management of this vital resource is critical to the health of the state’s economy and environment.


Campus research centers and institutes found across 10 CSU campuses contribute to research and innovation that improves water-use efficiency in all sectors and at all stages of the water-use cycle.

Much of the water research across the CSU is related to watershed management and environmental issues. The Water Institute at CSU Monterey Bay and the Watershed Institute at San Diego State, for example, bring together diverse coalitions of researchers, educators, planners, students and volunteers to advance watershed science and management. These centers provide research opportunities for faculty, staff, and students; they also contribute to policy development, and provide community outreach, education, and service-learning opportunities to involve local communities in environmental decision making.

Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation and Technology (CIT) is the leading independent testing lab and applied research facility for California’s irrigation industry. With state-of-the-art testing facilities, CIT works with the public and private sector to advance irrigation technology, water/energy management practices, and equipment standards. CIT also administers the Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program, an educational and incentive program that utilizes funding from Pacific Gas and Electric to improve pumping efficiency for pumps primarily used for agriculture, landscape or turf irrigation, or for municipal purposes.

At Sacramento State, the Office of Water Program is a non-profit auxiliary focused on providing cost-effective solutions for protecting and enhancing water resources, public health, and the environment through training, scientific research, and public education. Research group engineers and scientists manage efforts to develop and test methods to improve water quality. They also perform modeling, data analyses and cost assessments and offer technical advice on water policy issues and watershed planning.


Realizing that smarter water management and investments can make California’s economy more resilient and robust, the CSU’s Water Resources & Policy Initiatives (WRPI) is a multi-campus affinity group dedicated to developing water management solutions through research, partnerships, education and training that provides students with hands-on learning. In 2018-19, WRPI generated approximately $1.9 million in funding from external sources. Appr​oximately half of this funding was directed towards CSU student and faculty researchers.

The CSU's water research has had a great affect on California communities. According to recent estimates, at least one million California residents lack access to safe drinking water. WRPI is intent on providing safe drinking water to these disadvantaged communities, while training the next generation of water leaders. In this way WRPI is simultaneously supporting communities, enhancing student engagement and building professional capacity.

These community benefits are just one component of the economic impact of the CSU’s water research efforts. CSU researchers and individual campus centers and institutes are consistently commercializing new ideas and technologies and fostering entrepreneurial activities in water industries and services.