From The Confluence, the blog of the California Institute for Water Resources:

From the Ground Up: Climate Change and Environmental Justice in California

  • It was great to have a chance to talk with Michael Mendez at UC Irvine about his work documenting how grassroots movements have shaped climate change and environmental justice work in California and beyond, as he describes in his book Climate Change from the Streets. He also does much-needed work on the disproportionate impacts of disasters like droughts and wildfires on migrant communities in the state.

Growing the right tree in the right place with the right amount of water

  • I learned a lot talking to Katherine Jarvis-Shean, an orchard advisor in the Sacramento Valley who is constantly working to find the best rootstocks for growing things like almonds, walnuts, and prunes in a constantly changing world. Reposted at California Rural Report.

Culturally appropriate youth water education

  • It really is a privilege to have the chance to talk with so many people doing such good work in the world, and Claudia Diaz Carrasco is one of those people. I really appreciated learning more about her work with youth communities in southern California, how she approached a water-focused youth program, and how others can do culturally appropriate youth programming. Reposted at California Rural Report.

When it comes to water access, the devil is in the details

  • Greg Pierce is a social scientist looking at a wide variety of issues related to California's legislative Human Right to Water, where as always, the devil is in the details. I learned so much in this interview about water affordability and access. I have so much respect for everyone engaged in the deep work of making big goals reality on the ground. Reposted at California Rural Report.

Retaining diverse environment and water scholars through community

    • Aradhna Tripati is one of my hero's. Honored to write about her work developing an intergenerational community of support to not just recruit, but to RETAIN, a diverse group of scholars that focus on climate and the environment. It's a great model, but also, support her existing program! Reposted at California Rural Report.

From being an engineer to researching nature’s engineers

    • So happy that I got to write about Emily Fairfax and her work on beavers. I saw the beaver animation she created and that ended up going viral last year, then learned she had come to California from Colorado, and immediately worked toward this interview. So much to learn about beavers!

Water and COVID-19: An early overview from California

    • I've been trying to make sense out of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in many ways over the past month, including where it relates to water. This is a summary of the things that have stood out so far.

Trends and opportunities in water markets in the western U.S.

    • I don't know a ton about water markets, so it was interesting to learn more through the work of colleagues Kurt Schwabe and Mehdi Nemati at UC Riverside. Reposted at California Rural Report.

Water management as farming practice

    • Really fun to be able to write a post about Phoebe Gordon and her work as an cooperative extension orchard advisor. Lucky to have such great colleagues. Reposted at California Rural Report.

Supporting first-generation ranchers in coping with drought and climate change

    • Leslie Roche has been doing great research and extension work over several years that tackles various aspects of ranching, drought, and climate change. This piece is a synthesis of some of that work, focused on first-generation ranchers, who I learned a lot about in writing this. Reposted at, California Rural Report, and UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences.

Catching the water bug: A conversation with Brinda Sarathy

    • Brinda Sarathy is a professor at Pitzer College and director of the Redford Conservancy there. I have been trying to interview her for a while and am so glad it finally worked out. I recently ran into a undergrad who knew so much about water policy that I knew they were one of Brinda's students before they told me! Reposted at California Rural Report.

Silver Solutions: A new webinar series from the UC ANR Water Program Team

    • Happy to highlight this new series organized by colleagues Mallika Nocco and Sam Sandoval and featuring a whole bunch of other folks including Ted Grantham and Ellen Bruno.

Bottled water sales track community response to water contamination

    • Maura Allaire did some really interesting work on improving detection and notification processes for drinking water contamination issues using bottled water sales as an indicator. Reposted for the UC ANR Knowledge Stream and California Rural Report.

Researching California’s extreme weather, storm-by-storm

    • Tashiana Osborne just blew me away -- she's got an impressive set of experiences already as a graduate student, her research is spot on, and I can't wait to see what else she accomplishes in her career! Reposted for the California Rural Report.

Improving water governance through informed decision-making

    • Nell Green Nylen is sincerely one of the smartest and most productive people working on water in California. Understanding the things that she is working on gives some sense of where things are headed in the field. Reposted for the California Rural Report.

Economic policy approaches to water allocation in California

    • Ellen Bruno is a relatively new cooperative extension specialist at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on how economic policy can shape water allocations. I especially appreciated her words about following in her mom's footsteps working on water in California. Reposted for the California Rural Report.

Rising to the challenges of 21st century water management in Los Angeles

    • Great research from UCLA on how early preferences for water piped into LA from far away places in California shaped the challenges the city is facing today.

Documenting California drought as an undocumented researcher

    • Evelyn Valdez-Ward is a PhD student at UC Irvine focusing on the effects of climate change and drought on plants and soils. She's also a DACA student, which brings a lot of uncertainty for her career path. Reposted for the California Rural Report.

The health effects of drought and extreme temperatures in California

    • I was thrilled to have a chance to interview Dr. Maithili Ramachandran of UC Riverside on her work on how drought and extreme weather is impacting physical and mental health in California. Another brilliant young researcher to watch. Covered at Cap Radio.

Conserving freshwater ecosystems as they change

    • Fun interview with Albert Ruhi at UC Berkeley on his work on how freshwater ecosystems are changing and how organisms are responding quickly (or not) to these changes.

Exploring the relationship between emotions and water issues

    • Water issues and emotional health are connected in ways that are both profound and underappreciated. Parisa Parsafor at UC Riverside is a psychology researcher working to bring psychological insights into the public policy sphere.

Son of farmworkers turned professor focuses on water issues in California’s Central Valley

    • Mario Sifuentez of UC Merced has some unique insights on water (and many other) issues in California as both the son of migrant farmworkers and a humanities professor. Reposted for the California Rural Report.

A social ecological perspective on water issues

    • Great to have a chance to finally talk with the esteemed Dan Stokols at UC Irvine. I so appreciate his lifelong committment to learning and working to make the world a better place.

Listening to communities: A bottom-up approach to water planning in California

    • This is a really exciting and interesting project from anthropologists Valerie Olson and Emily Brooks at UC Irvine focused on intentionally listening to the strengths and needs of underserved and underresourced communities, particularly the homeless, when it comes to water. Reposted for the California Rural Report.

Trauma and resilience in California disaster response and readiness

    • I find that scientists, especially in cooperative extension and in California, are more and more on the "front lines" of disaster response and not always equipped for the human trauma side. Maryam Kia-Keating is a clinical psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara who has worked with people post-disaster and offers some helpful insights on trauma-informed disaster response.

How are California water managers thinking about climate change? It depends

    • The work that Julia Ekstrom at UC Davis and her colleagues are doing offers a unique insight on many California water and climate change issues. This study was also personally interesting to me because it took on the narrative of the "supply-demand" science and policy relationship and fleshed out some of what I've found challenging about that theory, which is that not everybody that needs information is going to demand it.

California Indigenous perspectives on water and fire management

    • Great to have a chance to talk with Don Hankins of Chico State about his work on Indigenous approaches to wildfire and water management. Dr. Hankins is a Miwkoʔ (Plains Miwok) traditional cultural practitioner and geography professor who has written some fascinating (and painful) papers on the challenges of integrating Indigenous perspectives in environmental management.

Understanding California’s water culture

    • Rina Faletti and I have been trying to work together for a long time, and I'm so glad it finally happened as her perspective on California water issues, as an art historian and environmental humanist, is so incredibly valuable.

California’s idea of “natural” beauty may have shifted during the drought

    • Great study from sociologist Andrew McCumber at UC Santa Barbara on how we create our ideas of nature -- which makes it also possible to shift our ideas of nature. Covered at Curbed.

Fire and water issues are intimately linked in California

    • In addition to working on water and drought issues, I spent many years working on wildfire, particularly related to how homes burn in wildfires. This is a look at how fire and water relate, particularly in the disaster context of 2017.

Celebrating sixty years of water resources research and extension at the University of California

    • It can be pretty hard to understand where the water institute fits into the overall, very crowded, water "landscape" in California. I interviewed Doug Parker and he explained the past, present, and future.

Water at the center in a time of tension and possibility

    • Part 2 of my interview with Melanie Yazzie where we dug in a little more on the present and future of tribal sovereignty and its relationship to water in the western US.

Water is life, relationality, and tribal sovereignty: An interview with Melanie K. Yazzie

    • Melanie Yazzie from UC Riverside spoke at a UC Merced Humanities conference where she talked about the water is life movement as a radical politics of relationality. Was thrilled to have a chance to talk to her about that and related issues more deeply. One of the most galvanizing conversations I've had in at least a decade.

Challenges and bottlenecks for groundwater recharge in California

    • Synopsis of a really interesting session on some of the nitty-gritty challenges facing California groundwater management with Helen Dahlke (UC Davis), Michael Kiparsky (UC Berkeley), and Andy Fisher (UC Santa Cruz).

Water challenges for California’s small farm community

    • Really admire UC ANR colleagues Ruth Dahlquist-Willard and Michael Yang who are working with Hmong and other Southeast Asian farmers who grow a huge variety of crops while facing some big challenges. Reposted on the CDFA Planting Seeds site.

Access, power, and money in California groundwater governance

    • Another fantastic interview with Casey Walsh about some of the lesser explored aspects of groundwater management -- who participates, who wins, who loses. We don't talk enough about power in water management in California.

Drop for drop? The tension between sameness and difference in water sources

    • Great interview with Casey Walsh, an anthropologist at UC Santa Barbara. His perspective on water issues is invaluable. This post got so much great conversation started around what might make "unique" water attractive in the same way we think about wine.

Working with wild horses and water controversies in rural California

    • Am fascinated by the work that UC ANR colleague Laura Snell does on one of the thorniest issues ever. It's yet another example to me of how science can turn out to be a very small piece of what might seem at first to be a primarily scientific question.

Making the invisible visible: Connecting home water use & city infrastructure through participatory design

    • Claire Napawan and Brett Snyder at UC Davis did the kind of project that is absolutely vital -- they worked directly with communities over many years to design something that worked for them. Model academic work in my mind.

Determining how many fish a long dammed river could sustain

    • Alison O'Dowd (another former UC Berkeley Resh Lab-mate) and Emily Cooper at Humboldt State doing some really interesting work using habitat proxies to figure out how many fish might have once lived in an area that has been long-dammed.

Creating a student-driven water research community

    • Matt Cover (another former UC Berkeley Resh Lab-mate) at Stanislaus State does incredible work to help students, many first generation, to gain research experience, think of themselves as scientists, and foster community.

Taking the long view – the very long view – on California water and drought

    • Matt Kirby at CSU Fullterton has been researching lake sediments in California to look at drought history in the state since long before it was a state. I find this kind of historical perspective invaluable.

Identifying gaps in protecting California’s native fish

    • Ted Grantham at UC Berkeley is working with others to figure out how to strategically conserve California's native fish, knowing that at this point we won't be able to conserve them all.

Cutting edge tools to identify potential groundwater well problems

    • Clarissa Nobile at UC Merced has been trying to figure out whether biofouling, a big problem for wells in the Pacific Northwest, might pose problems here in California.

Working with salty soils and homemade research tools in the Delta

    • This post will always go down as one of my favorites because it raises the issue of the legitimacy and bounds of "local" knowledge with Michelle Leinfelder-Miles of UC ANR.

Incorporating social equity into California water management

    • Carolina Balazs did some great work looking at how we can incorporate social equity issues into the Integrated Regional Water Management process. An ongoing and very relevant issue.

From surviving to thriving: trees in street-side stormwater facilities

    • My UC ANR colleague (and former UC Berkeley Resh Lab-mate) Igor Lacan has been doing some really unique and interesting work looking at how trees survive in what has become a ubiquitous feature of urban landscapes: the rain garden.

All the water we can get – managed groundwater recharge in California

    • Groundwater recharge has been the sleeper hit issue of the past couple years. Andy Fisher at UC Santa Cruz was on it long before it was common in California, and the water institute supported one of his early projects.

Small but mighty: researchers find periodically flowing streams in California are surprisingly diverse

    • Loved working on this post with Stephanie Carlson at UC Berkeley and Michael Bogan, now at University of Arizona.

At The Science Unicorn, my now archived personal blog, I wrote about everything from science communication and engagement to water and drought to grief and emotions around environmental issues. Much of that material has morphed into my book, Getting to the Heart of Science Communication (Spring 2021). Some of the most popular posts there include: