California’s historic drought of 2011-2015 provided excellent conditions for researchers to listen to water-management challenges from decision makers, particularly with regard to data and information needs for improved decision making. Through the UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative (http://ucwater.org/)
we began a multi-year dialog with water-resources decision makers and state agencies that provide data and technical support for water management. Near-term products of that collaboration will be both a vision for a 21st-century water data and information system, and near-term steps to meet immediate legislative deadlines in a way that is consistent with the longer-term vision. While many university-based water researchers engage with state and local agencies on both science and policy challenges, UC Water’s focus was on: i) integrated system management, from headwaters through groundwater and agriculture, and on ii) improved decision making through better water information systems. This focus aligned with the recognition by water leaders that fundamental changes in the way the state manages water were overdue. UC Water is focused on three “I”s: improved water information, empowering Institutions to use and to create new information, and enabling decision makers to make smart investments in both green and grey Infrastructure. Effective communication with water decision makers has led to engagement on high-priority programs where large knowledge gaps remain, including more-widespread groundwater recharge of storm flows, restoration of mountain forests in important source-water areas, governance structures for groundwater sustainability, and filling information gaps by bringing new technology to bear on measurement and data programs. Continuing engagement of UC Water researchers in public dialog around water resources, through opinion pieces, feature articles, blogs, white papers, social media, video clips and a feature documentary film have also been key to our continuing engagement. These novel partnerships are leading to decision-relevant tools and an improved integrated praxis in on-the-ground water-resources management. Our research is becoming more embedded in policies and our network remains interconnected with decision makers at multiple levels.
Bales, R. C.; Bernacchi, L.; Conklin, M. H.; Viers, J. H.; Fogg, G. E.; Fisher, A.T.; Kiparky, M. (2017): Developing decision-relevant data and information systems for California water through listening and collaboration. Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2017. Abstract PA33D-10..