September 20, 2013

-->A Boost for Watershed Science, Agriculture

The University of California, Davis, will build on its success as a center for problem-solving research on California's critical water issues thanks to a $10 million gift to the Center for Watershed Sciences from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

The Center for Watershed Sciences—the state's leading academic institute on water management—will be able expand its scientific research and public engagement capabilities on the state's increasingly difficult water problems, including drinking water safety and reliability, agricultural production, flood protection, hydroelectric power, recreational use and the survival of salmon and other native fish species.

State officials have long relied on models developed at the center to assess the potential effects of proposed water management actions. The center's scientific research has informed policymakers on several critical water issues, including the ecological health and water supply of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which provides drinking water for 22 million Californians and supports the state's $27 billion agriculture industry.

California faces unprecedented challenges managing its limited water supply and maintaining the health of its rivers, lakes and estuaries as the state's population and economy grows, according to the center's scientists. Competing water demands have increased water scarcity, worsened water quality and severely diminished populations of wild salmon and other native aquatic species.

"California's problems will become more challenging as the climate changes and water demands increase," said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences. "This gift significantly strengthens our ability to stay ahead of potential water crises with forward-thinking insights and innovative solutions."

"The S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and its founder, Stephen D. Bechtel, believe that California can meet the water needs of its cities, farms, and ecosystems, but only if water management is informed by research, grounded in best practice, and enabled by sound policy," said Lauren Dachs, president of the Foundation. "The Foundation is pleased to partner with UC Davis to develop solutions to California's multifaceted water challenges."

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