Expanding Success

The World Water initiative builds on the successes of the UC Davis campus in research engaged in practical problems.  Water is among the most fundamental problems of any society.  UC Davis has a long history of pivotal involvement in understanding and finding solutions for water problems in California and globally. 

The tenets of our success are to engage deeply with problems, from an independent academic perspective, and to cultivate, hire and collaborate broadly with productive researchers, students, and leaders on water problems in our teaching and research.  We also communicate broadly and deeply, including our CaliforniaWaterBlog with over 10,000 subscribers, along with Twitter (@UCDavisWater) and Facebook pages.  Continuing deeply engaged scientific leadership across disciplines on water problems is critical to sustaining the success of our work. 

We look forward to expanding our policy-engaged, problem-focused research and education involving multiple disciplines to provide non-advocacy, non-partisan insights that improve public and policy discussions and solutions.

Some Major Policy Informing Accomplishments

Policy and Collaboration Our work routinely informs policy and legislation    and is made more effective and rigorous through extensive, in-depth collaborations with agencies, institutes, non-governmental organizations, and other academics. Our major areas of accomplishment include:

California Flood Management legislation in the late 2000s rested substantially on the Center’s expertise. Today, the Center is leading innovations and analysis of flood insurance policies nationally and for California, as well as engaging globally in solving flood problems.

Ecosystem Reconciliation is a fundamental idea to much of the Center’s work. We have long-worked to make floodplain and spring-fed stream ecology compatible with agriculture for the Yolo Bypass, Cosumnes River, and cold-water springs in Northern California. Our work provides much of the scientific underpinnings for acquisition and management of spring-fed systems for the Shasta River and Mountain Areas.

Drought Analysis and Policy has been a major recent area of Center accomplishment, overseeing the analysis of drought impacts and management. This work has included: effects of drought on agriculture and fish, improved analysis for water right curtailments, and overviews that deepen understanding of drought in California.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the major hub of California’s water system. Center researchers have led a major research effort to modernize understanding of the problems of the Delta. Our books and reports led to major changes in policy, including the Delta Reform Act of 2009.

Groundwater Management is undergoing a revolution in California. From California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 to state and national policies on nitrate contamination, Center research has been fundamental to developing facts, management, and legislation on these issues.

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation are a growing concern for California and the western US. The Center’s work has focused on California’s considerable capacity to adapt to changes in climate and many other factors, due to its extensive and integrated water infrastructure and agency collaboration.

Water System Analysis is central to developing effective solutions to water problems and comparing their performance for policy discussions. The Center has developed system and economic models to give insights on the effects of new infrastructure, climate change, Delta conveyance, water markets, conjunctive use and regional integration. Such analysis allows us to see how California’s water system functions as a whole, rather than just a collection of pieces.

Native Fish Assessments provide a scientific basis for water and ecosystem policy and management. The Center developed the PISCES spatial database of California’s native and non-native fishes. PISCES supports the State of the Salmonids report which documents the status and trends of all salmon species in California and makes specific recommendations for recovery.

Expedition-Based Learning UC Davis has pioneered expedition-based courses on water and ecosystems. Both undergraduate and graduate courses combine classroom teaching with days to weeks of field techniques and scientific research in mountains, streams, and canyons such as the Tuolumne River, the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon, and Alaska’s Kobuk River.

Alumni Perhaps the Center’s biggest accomplishment is its many alumni students, researchers, and faculty, who are now involved as water management leaders in universities, agencies, institutes, firms, and non-governmental groups in California and globally