By Jay Lund
Today marks a milestone for successful engagement of university research with California’s water problems.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi announced a major donation to the Center for Watershed Sciences. The $10 million gift from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation will enable the Center to expand its scientific research and public engagement capabilities as the climate warms and water demands increase.
The gift emphatically endorses multidisciplinary academic engagement with environmental problem-solving.
The Center was founded on the premise that single-issue and single-species approaches to water management often fail to resolve water conflicts. Geologist Jeffrey Mount and fish biologist Peter Moyle created the institute in 1997 to develop more integrated and imaginative approaches to water resources science and policy. The Center’s disciplinary breadth grew with the addition of Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist, and myself, a civil and environmental engineer.
Today, dozens of faculty members, researchers and students from diverse departments work together with experts across the West and internationally.
Our research typically involves teams drawn from physical, biological, social and engineering sciences. We often work in partnership with public agencies and other organizations. Our funding is mostly from foundations, public agencies and conservation groups.
The short video about the Center (above) features our lab and field director Carson Jeffres and one of our current research projects, an experiment in rearing young salmon on a seasonally flooded rice field in Yolo County. Fish raised in the field grow phenomenally faster and fatter than those left to mature in the Sacramento River, earning them the name “floodplain fatties.”
Thanks to this new gift, the Center also will be growing in size and strength – but not girth. We are keeping fit and nimble to stay a step ahead of potential water crises. And we’ll continue to provide scientific backbone and forward-thinking insights for California’s difficult water policy discussions.
Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, directs the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.