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Up a river without a paddle

Accounts from this year’s ever-popular rivers course, taught by Center for Watershed Sciences staff, read more like the Chronicle for Drier Education — thanks to this fourth year of extreme drought.

The spring 2015 class had to forgo plans to reach study sites by rafting the Wild and Scenic section of the Tuolumne River (“Wild” as in Class 4 and 5 rapids), because of reduced flows from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. They otherwise immersed themselves snorkeling.

Welcome Jon Herman

Say hello to Jon Herman, a new assistant professor in water resources systems engineering who will be working with the Center for Watershed Sciences.

"Jon's expertise in large-scale multi-objective modeling and optimization for water resource systems is ideal for California's water management needs," said Jay Lund, director of the Center.

Herman joined the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in June after completing his PhD dissertation at Cornell University.

Amber Manfree lauded for 'highly original' dissertation

Amber Manfree of the Center for Watershed Sciences on Wednesday (May 27) will be awarded the Kinsella Memorial Prize for her dissertation on the changing landscape of Suisun Marsh, a vast wetland in the San Francisco Estuary important for fish and water birds.

The annual UC Davis award recognizes the most outstanding doctoral dissertation in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, where Manfree studied under Peter Moyle, a distinguished professor of fish biology.

Commentary: Let fish sell water during drought

During drought, California often loosens its fish protections in order to free up more water for cities and farms. The Center's Jay Lund and Peter Moyle question this practice in the latest California WaterBlog and the San Francisco Chronicle's Opinion pages, saying it is better for California's environment and economy to sell rather than give away the environmental water for free. 

A salmon success story during the drought

Average returns of fall-run Chinook salmon on the Shasta River in the past four years have quadrupled, even during the drought. No one knows for sure why. However, the condition of the habitat dramatically improved soon after cattle were fenced out of an ecologically important spring-fed tributary, Big Springs Creek. Ann Willis, a Center researcher who has monitored the changes for several years, tells the story to Capital Public Radio's environment reporter Amy Quinton.

Could California survive a mega-drought?

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences Director Jay Lund told KXTL News 10 (ABC, Sacramento) Thursday that if California faced a 100-year drought, it could lose up to half of its agriculture.

"But most of the urban economy, while it would be painful, would get through pretty well," Lund said. "We'd certainly use a lot less water on our lawns, pay more for water, do a lot more water conservation, do a lot more waste water re-use."

Public speakers series: Get grounded on groundwater

Policymakers, hydrologists, legal experts, economists and water managers will discuss California's management of groundwater -- past, present and future -- in a series of nine presentations, starting Monday, Jan 5, at the UC Davis School of Law, Room 2303. All sessions open to public.

Yolo Bypass symposium now on instant replay

Miss last week's science symposium on the Yolo Bypass? Miss no more. Complete video coverage is now available, thanks to the Center for Aquatic Biology & Aquaculture.

The Dec. 9 event at UC Davis drew more than 200 for a daylong discussion on ways farmers and landowners might economically support habitat for native salmon and water birds on the 57,000-acre Sacramento River floodway. 

Center ecologists spotlight north Delta, Suisun Marsh

Several Center for Watershed Sciences researchers are presenting at this week's Bay-Delta Science Conference in Sacramento.

On Wednesday, ecologist John Durand, fish biology professor Peter Moyle and others are scheduled to present their latest findings on ecosystems in the north Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh.

UC Davis tapped for groundwater expertise

UC Davis water scientists are helping to shape a comprehensive groundwater management system for California, designed to halt the pump-as-you-please approach that’s sucking wells dry during the drought. Thomas Harter is helping to coordinate teams from the Center for Watershed Sciences and the UC Cooperative Extension Groundwater Hydrology Program.

Center's virtual mega-drought draws mega-media

The Los Angeles Times on Sunday led a page-one story with the Center's 2010 study of a synthesized 72-year California drought.  

Scientists used their CALVIN model to see how the state could respond to such an extreme drought using water trading and best-case estimates of costs and effects on water operations and demands.

The results were surprising. As the Times' Bettina Boxall reported, "The California economy would not collapse. The state would not shrivel into a giant, abandoned dustbowl. Agriculture would shrink but by no means disappear."

Center exhibits Tuolumne photos through Oct. 10

Students rafting through the Clavey Falls rapids on Tuolumne River

The Center is blessed with several researchers and instructors who double as photographers. Come see their work on display through Oct. 15 at the UC Davis Buehler Alumni Center art gallery. Directions

Titled Lessons from the Tuolumne, the exhibition shows students and researchers at work and play in the central Sierra's Tuolumne River watershed.