What is the Future of California’s Water?

September 21, 2016 | Water in the West | News

Devon Ryan

Groundwater is critically important in the American West. In California, groundwater accounts for up to 60 percent of total water supply in dry years. But how much groundwater is there? Where is it? How is it measured or monitored? How can it be managed sustainably to ensure there will be enough for the state’s growing population in the future? These are the critical questions up for discussion at a California Groundwater Briefing Sept. 27 in Sacramento. The event will be hosted by Stanford’s Water in the West program, a partnership between the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West.

Water resource experts will share the latest research on groundwater and implementation of the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), California’s most significant effort to empower local authorities to manage groundwater for their communities. Mark Cowin, Director of the California Department of Water Resources, the agency overseeing implementation of SGMA, will introduce Stanford researchers focused on groundwater data and the policies needed to weather changes in climate and demand.

Panelists include Rosemary Knight, the George L. Harrington Professor in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth), whose latest work uses satellite data to determine groundwater levels from space. Knight is working to improve the acquisition and accuracy of groundwater levels in the West. Rob Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford Earth, will explain his use of oil and gas well data to improve understanding of deep groundwater in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley. Also, Tara Moran, Program Lead for Sustainable Groundwater at Water in the West, will discuss her survey of California groundwater managers, which revealed the need for more consistent data across the state. Leon Szeptycki, Executive Director of Water in the West and a specialist on water issues, will moderate the panel.

The briefing will be held at the Sutter Club in Sacramento, Calif at 1:30 p.m. PT. Register to attend the event and see program details at bit.ly/CAWaterFuture. To join the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #‎CAWaterFuture.