Public Affairs

CSU Water Experts Gather in Long Beach

May 4, 2011
By Erik Fallis

It is hard to find an equivalent of California's geographic and environmental diversity. Our state boasts both the San Francisco Bay estuaries and Death Valley – with more than 840 miles of coastline and the highest mountain summit in the contiguous United States.

California is a state where water abundance and scarcity coexist. Yet, human activity has dramatically changed the natural water landscape in order to supply homes, farms and industry. Decision makers in this state strive to balance the wide range of economic and environmental priorities. In doing so, they rely on individuals with an expertise in the scientific and policy issues of water.

CSU Water Experts Gather in Long BeachMany of those experts gathered April 27 and 28 for meetings of the CSU Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) and Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST).

During the WRPI meeting on April 27, attention was given to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an area where the balancing act between needs has intensified. This incredibly fertile area is under constant threat of degradation due to fresh water diversion, climate change and the possibility of catastrophic failure of an aging system of levees. The consequence for the delta, as the center of the water supply system serving much of California, has ramifications statewide.

Other issues discussed at the WRPI included water quality in disadvantaged communities and water conservation. Both of these issues presented their own unique policy, technology and engineering challenges. This led to a final panel on careers in water. The conclusion across various fields of study is that CSU students will have the opportunity to look into water issues and pursue those issues in their future careers.

CSU Water Experts Gather in Long BeachOn April 28, the experts of COAST took to the podium. A network of CSU faculty and researchers shared their observations and plans to study pollution, climate change and habitat alteration effects on marine life – especially in the regions of or near the California coast. Other networks presented on the use of geospatial technology to advance research and education, and the integration of marine science into policymaking.

The system of COAST networks is looking to bring together distinct efforts across disciplines and campuses to build a more comprehensive view of the marine world for academics and the public.

Addressing both the WRPI and COAST, Chancellor Reed reiterated his support for the work of the groups to bring research dollars to campuses in order to answer difficult public policy questions. Reed resolved to maintain CSU funding for WRPI and COAST, despite the challenging budget year ahead. As he explained to the gathered experts, "you are doing the kind of research that decision makers and industry demand."