- Author: Alison Whipple
With the underlying premise that re-establishing physical processes to which native species are adapted improves ecosystem functions and resilience, the seven invited speakers and panel discussion explored connections between hydrologic regimes, landscapes, and ecosystems and outlined ways more functional hydrologic regimes might be achieved. The workshop was introduced by Peter Goodwin, convener and Lead Scientist for the Delta Science Program. Geoffrey Petts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster, offered the plenary lecture and established a number of important concepts that were carried throughout the day’s discussions. Petts introduced the term “smart hydrology,” which focuses on minimizing flow alteration through flexibility in operations, management tailored to individual systems, and diverse flow regimes in terms of magnitude, timing, duration, and frequency. He explained how riverine system resilience, or ability to withstand perturbations, relates to factors such as spatial variability of flows, morphological or landscape complexity (including hot spots of ecological importance), and interannual variability in flows.
The audience then heard from Chris Enright, with the Delta Science Program, who explored aspects of a hydrograph in relation to physical, chemical, and biological processes and emphasized the importance of geomorphic context for natural hydrographs. Robin Grossinger, director of the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Historical Ecology Program, drew from examples in the historical Delta (work I have been heavily involved in) and Santa Clara River to speak about the reciprocal interaction between hydrologic regime and landscape. Bruce Herbold, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, discussed his examples using conceptual models illustrating the connections between natural physical drivers, elements of hydrologic regime alteration, associated stressors, and biological responses. Sarah Yarnell, with the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, spoke of the ecological importance of predictability in a hydrologic regime, such as the spring snowmelt recession rate, suggesting management considerations such as the timing of flow releases from dams. Cliff Dahm, former Lead Scientist of the Delta Science Program, provided a number of examples from around the world of managing for functional flow regimes, including minimum flow criteria for different seasons, certain percentages of available flows, and focus on particular aspects of the hydrologic regime thought to be of ecological significance (e.g., baseflows, first storm event of the season). Finally, bringing the discussion to science as it informs policy-making, Les Grober, with the State Water Resources Control Board, spoke about flow regulation changes recommended for the San Joaquin River.
Over the course of the talks and panel discussion, several themes emerged. These include managing toward variability, considering different components of a hydrologic regime as they relate to specific functions, looking to the value of high flow and low flow periods, acknowledging important interactions with the landscape (e.g., duration of floodplain inundation), and the importance of habitat diversity to support resilience. Climate change wove throughout, arising as a concern particularly in changing water availability in space and time and in the potential for large disturbance events, but also as potentially forcing much needed variability and causing a shift toward softer approaches that allow for adaptation.
As Goodwin explained, this workshop was exactly the type of scientific synthesis conversation needed for science to better inform policy. We should look forward to similar events coming from the Delta Science Program in the future. A video of the day along with the lecture slides should be available soon on CABA’s website.
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."
For more: see the official White House website.
- Author: Michael Levy
It’s an exciting time in the CCWAS world. As we move into our second quarter as CCWAS Trainees, we’re planning this spring’s inaugural State of the Science and Policy Conference, and folks, it’s going to be awesome. We’re still in the early stages of planning, so I can’t get too specific, but here’s a taste of what we’ve been kicking around:
- Amazing speakers: We’re going to have the biggest names in the science and management of California’s water future. You won’t find anywhere else such a collection of cutting edge thinkers on how California’s water resources are changing and what to do about it.
- Exciting schedule: We’re going to keep ‘em busy. TED-like talks, panel discussions, keynote speakers, posters, roundtable discussions, plus plenty of time to network and discuss specific ideas with leaders in the field.
- Provocative arrangements: We’re putting together combinations of scientists, managers, and stakeholders that are designed challenge them and get them to question how they do things to help us get at the big unknowns and disconnects in California’s water future.
- Integration, integration, and more integration: We’re going to bridge scientific fields, science and management, management scale, geography… everything. Our specialty in the IGERT is bringing together pieces that don’t normally come into contact. That’s how we’ll move knowledge forward, and there’s plenty of it on tap at the conference.
Sound good? Put it on your calendar: April 8-9, 2013 in Sacramento, California.
Here’s a title we’ve been kicking around. What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments section below:
The Future of Water in California: Integrating Climate, Water & Policy
On Monday, 7 January, State Senator Lois Wolk gave the inaugural talk in the California Water Policy Seminar Series. She addressed a standing-room-only crowd of faculty, grad students, and interested members of the public for over 45 minutes, and took questions afterwards.
Senator Wolk opened by describing the current climate in the state capitol: "We now have an activist governor, prepared to move on a controversial proposal" and encouraged seminar participants to ask the "movers and shakers" scheduled to speak later in the quarter about ideas that will impact California. She praised the students in the audience, saying, "We don't have enough well-trained people in California...I can't imagine anything more important to California and the West."
She emphasized the importance of the interconnectedness of California water as the key to understanding California water policy and describe the Delta as a "wicked, wicked problem." In her view, successful processes to determine the future of the Delta must bring all stakeholders to the table -- environmental organizations, the San Joaquin Valley agricultural sector, the Delta community, Southern California water users, recreation enthusiasts, Delta ports, upstream water users.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan, currently under consideration, proposes to run two tunnels under the Delta to convey water for users in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California while minimizing effects on listed species. Senator Wolk critiqued the drafting process because it didn't include Delta counties and upstream water users. She encouraged state officials to adjust the plan to account for these other interests. "The path forward is going to have to be a negotiation and discussion with all parties at the table..." because the current plan is unlikely to garner enough support to pass a water bond.
Senator Wolk closed with optimism: "A lot of people are tired of the fighting." As a result, diverse stakeholder groups have initiated collaborative processes to work on numerous smaller projects on which they all agree. Senator Wolk lauded this work, saying that it may have helped develop more trust between people in different organizations, which will help in larger discussions about the Delta.
If you missed the seminar, you can download the video at this link: