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Keeping the Water Flowing

March 21, 2014

Category: A Closer Look

Image courtesy of NPR.org

It has been a dry year for the Golden State so far, and the drought is only projected to get worse. The rain received in February was not enough to be a drought-breaker, and California’s rainfall deficit is still rapidly reaching record highs. With the significant reduction in the number of crops being grown and devastatingly low river and reservoir ebb and flow tides, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency. Managing the state’s water resources is crucial in helping maintain the health of California, and the CSU is taking necessary actions to produce proficient leaders in the water industry.

CSU San Marcos recently launched a new course for water managers to boost the number of individuals with the knowledge and experience needed to manage shrinking water resources. The program kicked off on March 18 with a preliminary course that will introduce students to the water management industry in California. Current professionals in the water industry looking to become top-level managers, as well as students aspiring to break into the water management industry, will learn about efficient uses of water, consequences of water shortages, water infrastructure, sources of water and issues facing the water industry.

“Academics and industry professionals are working together to create an education hub for water management,” said Alan K. Styles, director of the Certificate in Water Management & Leadership Program. “With a majority of the water management executives retiring within the next ten years, we are trying to transfer that industry knowledge to the younger generation.”

In addition to lectures by local water experts, students will take tours of local state-of-the-art water facilities and will work with water organizations to address a current problem or issue. This course is a precursor to a Water Resources Management Certificate that will be offered beginning next fall.

CSU Monterey Bay is also helping tackle the ongoing drought by partnering with NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Department of Water Resources to develop monitoring tools that better manage the state’s water resources. The collaboration is working to establish an operational monitoring service for fallowed land (cultivated land intentionally left unattended) as part of a drought early warning information system.

The pilot project will examine the feasibility of using satellite imagery to track fallowed land in California’s Central Valley. Being unable to fully irrigate crops due to the drought, farmers must choose which crops will get water and which crop will be left to wither. CSUMB researchers are key players in using satellites to detect reductions in the number of crops being planted early in the year. By examining the extent of fallowing, state officials will gain vital insight into the severity of the drought and will be able to develop a foundation for responding to droughts.

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