Category Archives: News

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PIRE Participants Publish in WIRES Water Journal

PIRE collaborators from UC Irvine, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, and the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management completed an initial study examining the proposed use of recycled waste-water for achieving various environmental and social goals in one Australian watershed. They conclude that, with dedicated public outreach, such an approach might be constructively applied to a variety of water quality problems.

Click the link below for the full article:

Governance Issues in Developing and Implementing Offsets for Water Management Benefits: Can Preliminary Evaluation Guide Implementation Effectiveness?

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SCCWRP scientist wins visiting-scholar fellowship from Australia’s University of Melbourne

SCCWRP hydrogeologist Dr. Ashmita Sengupta has won a competitive grant from the University of Melbourne’s engineering school to visit the university next year as a MERIT Visiting Scholar.


Sengupta plans to spend approximately one week at the University of Melbourne in summer 2015 interacting with faculty and delivering a seminar talk on water management in drought-prone areas. The MERIT Visiting Scholar program, sponsored by the Melbourne School of Engineering, is awarded to academic scholars of exceptional international distinction, according to program officials.


Sengupta’s research at SCCWRP focuses on applying modeling techniques to evaluate and improve the efficacy and impact of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) strategies, and to evaluate tradeoffs. She also models stress responses in receiving waterbodies due to watershed activities.


Sengupta was nominated for the award by research collaborators at the University of Melbourne. SCCWRP became a collaborator with the University of Melbourne through both entities’ participation in the University of California, Irvine’s Water Partnerships for International Research and Education (UCI Water-PIRE), an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation that seeks to strengthen collaboration between leading water-productivity researchers in southeastern Australia and the southwestern United States.


Sengupta, along with Dr. Eric Stein and Dr. Martha Sutula, represents SCCWRP in the two-nation partnership; they are working with Australian researchers on how to effectively capture and reuse water runoff and restore urban watersheds to more natural states.


For more information, contact Dr. Ashmita Sengupta.


Dr. Ashmita Sengupta
Article from SCCWRP website.

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A component of UCI Water PIRE’s K-12 outreach program was called out by the White House, in a press release entitled “Lifting America’s Game in Climate Education, Literacy, and Training”.



FACT SHEET: Lifting America’s Game in Climate Education, Literacy, and Training

“If you believe, like I do, that something has to be done on this, then you’re going to have to speak out. You’re going to have to learn more about these issues… You’ve got to educate your classmates, and colleagues, and family members and fellow citizens, and tell them what’s at stake.” — President Obama, June 2014, Remarks at the University of California-Irvine Commencement Ceremony

Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, important steps have already been taken to cut carbon pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to fight this global challenge. Continued progress into the future will depend on ensuring a climate-smart citizenry and a next-generation American workforce of city planners, community leaders, engineers, and entrepreneurs who understand the urgent climate-change challenge and are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and training to seek and implement solutions.

That’s why today, in support of the Obama Administration’s steady efforts to address climate change, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) is launching a new Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change.

The Initiative is kicking off with a roundtable discussion at the White House, convening key leaders in the education community from government, academia, philanthropies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to discuss ways to enhance climate education in the United States. The discussion will focus on planned and potential efforts to: increase learning opportunities about climate change for students; equip educators with science-based information and resources; enhance climate-related professional development and training; and engage citizens through place-based and informal climate education.

Through the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, the Obama Administration is asking leaders across sectors to step up and help lift our Nation’s game in climate education. In response to an initial call to action made in October, more than 150 activities, projects, and ideas were submitted by individuals and organizations across the country, from more than 30 states. These included a diverse array of innovative approaches being implemented in K-12 classrooms, on college and university campuses, and in zoos, parks, aquariums, and museums to educate and engage students and citizens of all ages. Today’s launch includes a number of exciting new commitments by Federal agencies and outside groups.

University of California, Irvine (UCI). In January 2015, the Global Sustainability Resource Center will host UCI’s first retreat for undergraduate students enrolled in the Global Sustainability Minor – enabling approximately 40 students to build their skills in strategic questioning, community visioning, action planning, and climate communication. The Resource Center will lead a similar training in Spring 2015 with high-school students in the Anza Borrego desert region, and in Summer 2015 with incoming students through UCI’s Summer Institute for Sustainability Leadership. At the grade-school level, UCI’s Water Partnership for International Research and Education H2Outreach, a graduate student-led educational program, will design an interactive activity to turn more than 700 local elementary-school students into water engineers and scientists for a day in Spring 2015, teaching them about environmentally friendly ways to manage water in the face of a changing climate.

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UCI Water PIRE researchers published an article describing why dry weather urban runoff negatively impacts water quality along the shoreline of enclosed embayments in southern California, and how the drainage system could be re-engineered (following Australia’s lead) to improve the situation.

See the article (click here) and the press release (

Enclosed beaches along urban coastlines are frequent hot spots of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) pollution. In this paper we present field measurements and modeling studies aimed at evaluating the impact of small storm drains on FIB pollution at enclosed beaches in Newport Bay, the second largest tidal embayment in Southern California. Our results suggest that small drains have a disproportionate impact on enclosed beach water quality for fi ve reasons: (1) dry weather surface fl ows (primarily from overirrigation of lawns and ornamental plants) harbor FIB at concentrations exceeding recreational water quality criteria; (2) small drains can trap dry weather runoff during high tide, and then release it in a bolus during the falling tide when drainpipe outlets are exposed; (3) nearshore turbulence is low (turbulent diff usivities approx-imately 10 − 3 m 2 s − 1), limiting dilution of FIB and other runoff – associated pollutants once they enter the bay; (4) once in the bay, runoff can form buoyant plumes that further limit vertical mixing and dilution; and (5) local winds can force buoyant runoff plumes back against the shoreline, where water depth is minimal and human contact likely. Outdoor water conservation and urban retrofits that minimize the volume of dry and wet weather runoff entering the local storm drain system may be the best option for improving beach water quality in Newport Bay and other urban-impacted enclosed beaches.

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