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  • SCCWRP’s mobile microbial testing technology featured in new Nature Methods article

    May 18, 2015:

    SCCWRP’s pioneering work to adapt mobile PCR technology to monitor microbial contaminants in beach ocean water is featured in a new overview article in the journal Nature Methods.

    The five-page article, headlined “PCR heads into the field” and published in the journal’s May issue, devotes an extensive write-up to SCCWRP’s ongoing efforts to develop a mobile, suitcase-style laboratory that can more rapidly detect microbial contaminants using droplet digital PCR. 

    Nature Methods is a publication of the prestigious journal Nature that focuses on laboratory techniques and practices.

    The journal article highlights the fact that current processing of ocean water samples can take up to 24 hours, while the ddPCR could yield results within two hours.

    The journal quotes Dr. John Griffith, head of the Microbiology Department, discussing the many potential applications of this mobile testing lab, including rapid detection of disease-causing pathogens in fishery waters and inclusion as a sensor on autonomous underwater vehicles. 

    The mobile testing lab is being developed in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Arizona State University. A prototype is expected to be completed later this year, the journal notes.

    SCCWRP’s research on using ddPCR methods to develop rapid microbial monitoring methods also was featured last year in a magazine article and accompanying short documentary from the life sciences company Bio-Rad.

    For more information about SCCWRP’s ddPCR work and to request a copy of the Nature Methods article for personal use, contact John Griffith


    A new feature article in the journal Nature Methods highlights SCCWRP's
    pioneering work to adapt mobile PCR technology to monitor microbial
    contaminants in ocean water at the beach. 


  • SCCWRP hosts transcontinental stormwater management workshop in India

    May 11, 2015:

    Leading stormwater scientists from across three continents came together at a SCCWRP-facilitated forum in India in March to discuss more effective ways to capture and use rainfall runoff in drought-prone areas.

    The two-day workshop, which was fully funded through an external grant, brought together 16 scientists from the United States, India and Australia for an in-depth discussion on large-scale best practices for urban stormwater management. Five participants came from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), two from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), four from the University of California, Irvine, one from UCLA, and one from the University of Melbourne. All but five were able to attend in person.

    The workshop, titled “Transforming Stormwater into a Resource: Design, Risks, & Benefits,” took place March 16-17 at the Metropolitan Hotel in downtown New Dehli. It was organized by SCCWRP hydrogeologist Dr. Ashmita Sengupta and a counterpart at the Indian Institute of Technology, Dr. M.L. Kansal; the pair won a competitive grant from the nonprofit Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum to host the event. Dr. Eric Stein, head of SCCWRP’s Biology Department, also attended.

    Four review papers are being written that will explore various facets of using low-impact development (LID) strategies to reclaim stormwater in the U.S. and India. 
    The first paper will focus on the hydrological and ecological impacts of climate change on India and the U.S. The second will examine how different nations define and monitor environmental flows. The third will delve into governance issues associated with water management offsets. And the fourth will look at future demand for recycled stormwater and obstacles to implementation.

    The review papers are expected to be published by the end of 2015.

    The India stormwater workshop was one of seven proposals selected by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum to be funded for 2014-15. Grant winners were announced in July 2014. 

    The annual IUSSTF workshops take place in either India or the United States, and span a wide variety of science and technology disciplines. IUSSTF’s goal is to promote interaction and collaboration between U.S. and Indian researchers in academia, R&D laboratories, industry and government.

    For more information about the workshop, contact Dr. Ashmita Sengupta

     

    Leading stormwater scientists from three continents gather for a two-day
    stormwater management workshop in March in New Dehli, India. Top row,
    from left, Amir AghaKouchak (UCI), Sekhar Muddu (IISc), Ashok Keshari (IIT),
    M.L Kansal (IIT), Ashmita Sengupta (SCCWRP), Dhanya C.T. (IIT), and
    Pradeep Mujumdar (IISc). Bottom row, Richard Ambrose (UCLA), Eric Stein
    (SCCWRP), Jean-Daniel Saphores (UCI), and Cameron Patel (UCI).
     

     

    Pradeep Mujumdar of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore discusses
    water demands in urban India during a two-day stormwater management
    workshop at a New Dehli hotel in March.

  • SCCWRP revises mission statement to reflect changing role, prominence

    April 28, 2015:

    SCCWRP has overhauled its mission statement and strategic vision document to more accurately reflect the agency’s central role as a scientific consensus-builder, a catalyst for translating science to action, and a respected source of research and knowledge within the water-quality management community.

    The page-long document, approved by the SCCWRP Commission at its March 5 meeting, marks the first update to the agency’s mission in 20 years, and underscores SCCWRP’s growing prominence and recognition at both the national and international levels. 

    The new mission statement reflects SCCWRP’s expanded focus from a primarily marine science organization two decades ago to an interdisciplinary environmental agency that comprehensively studies marine ecosystems, coastal freshwater ecosystems and associated aquatic resources. 

    Among the changes that were made: 
    • Whereas SCCWRP’s previous mission emphasized the agency’s role in communicating research findings and recommendations effectively to decision-makers and other stakeholders, the new mission declares that SCCWRP will develop scientific consensus for the management community and stimulate the conversion of science to action. 
    • Whereas SCCWRP’s previous mission emphasized the agency’s role in contributing to scientific understanding through developing and coordinating research programs, the new mission emphasizes that SCCWRP’s role is to be a respected source of unbiased water-quality science for the management community and to stimulate its scientists to be industry leaders.
    The revised mission statement was authored by a SCCWRP Commission subcommittee chaired by Commissioner Grace Hyde in consultation with SCCWRP staff.

    To read SCCWRP’s full mission statement, vision statement, goals and strategies, go to the About SCCWRP webpage. For more information about SCCWRP’s mission statement, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    SCCWRP's new mission statement emphasizes the central role the agency plays 
    in developing scientific consensus. Above, Dr. Steve Weisberg leads a workshop
    that seeks to build consensus around water-quality science.

  • California ELAP Expert Review Panel issues interim recommendations following first meeting at SCCWRP

    April 15, 2015:

    A five-member advisory panel convened by SCCWRP to evaluate the state’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) has unveiled a series of interim, short-term recommendations as the first step in a comprehensive, two-year review of the program. 

    The California ELAP Expert Review Panel, which held its first meeting in March at SCCWRP, has recommended that ELAP should automatically accept accreditation from other groups – including its counterparts at the national and international levels – as the program works to clear a backlog of pending accreditation reviews. 

    The five-member panel also has recommended that ELAP work to improve its communication strategy, form strategic new relationships with ELAP clients, and reenergize the state’s Environmental Laboratory Technical Advisory Committee (ELTAC), which serves as a key ELAP adviser, liaison, and resource.

    “You have an opportunity to be a model for other states,” panelist Stephen Arms told meeting attendees. “I hope through this process that other states look at what you’re doing and see opportunities to improve the process.”

    ELAP program Chief Christine Sotelo said at the meeting that her staff appreciated the interim recommendations and would immediately begin work on implementing them.

    “We have the right group here to give us advice, and we appreciate time you took,” Sotelo told the panel.

    The panel issued its interim, short-term recommendations at the conclusion of a three-day meeting that ran March 17-19 at SCCWRP, in which the panel heard from ELAP staff, stakeholders and the environmental laboratory community about the state of the program, as well as opposing perspectives from more than a dozen organizations and individuals about how to improve it. ELAP is the accrediting body for California’s environmental science laboratories.

    The panel has scheduled two additional meetings at SCCWRP this year – August 10-13 and October 14 – to continue its deliberations. 

    The panel’s ultimate charge to develop long-term recommendations for how the accrediting body and its accreditation standards should be revamped, including whether the program should reestablish its affiliation with the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP). 

    The panel has scheduled the release of its first report in November 2015 and the final report in December 2016.

    For more information about the California ELAP Expert Review Panel and to be added to an email listserve to receive occasional updates about the panel, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    ELAP Expert Review Panel members, from left, Mitzi Miller, Jordan Adelson, 
    David Speis, Stephen Arms and Lara Patterson Phelps assess the state of 
    California’s accreditation program for environmental laboratories during 
    the first meeting of the panel, held March 17-19 at SCCWRP.


    Judith Morgan, vice president and chief regulatory officer for ESC Lab 
    Sciences, delivers a presentation to the California ELAP Expert Review 
    Panel during its three-day meeting at SCCWRP in March. The audience 
    members included ELAP administrative staff from Sacramento, left, and 
    the five-member panel, right.

  • SCCWRP’s seventh biennial Symposium attracts 112 guests, maintains high evaluation scores

    April 06, 2015:

    SCCWRP’s seventh biennial Symposium conference event that was held in February for its member agencies attracted 112 guests from more than 20 organizations and maintained its consistently high evaluation scores from attendees.

    All 14 SCCWRP member agencies were represented at the all-day, invitation-only event, plus the California Coastal Commission, San Francisco Estuary Institute, USC Sea Grant, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and other local municipal agencies. 

    Afterward, attendees awarded average scores of 4.3 to 4.7 on a scale of 1-5 for each of the criteria they were asked to evaluate, including the Symposium’s relevancy to their job, the event’s communication effectiveness, and the value of attendance. 

    The average scores across all evaluation metrics were 0.1 to 0.3 points higher than in 2013, when SCCWRP last held its Symposium. 

    The seventh biennial Symposium, held February 26 at SCCWRP, began with a plenary session titled “Climate Change Effects on SCCWRP Member Agencies.” Attendees rounded out their day by selecting from among 28 scientific presentations and demonstrations organized around eight thematic research areas: nutrients and eutrophication, contaminants of emerging concern, beach microbial water quality, wetlands, bioassessment, sediment quality, regional monitoring, and technologies and visualizations.

    SCCWRP’s Symposium became a biennial event starting this year to help avoid repetition of scientific content.

    The PowerPoint presentations from the Symposium, as well as video recordings of many of the talks, are available for review by all Symposium attendees and the staff of SCCWRP’s member agencies. To review the presentations, contact a CTAG representative.

    For more information about the Symposium, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    SCCWRP information systems manager Shelly Moore, left, helps Symposium 
    attendees learn how to use a cellphone microscope during a how-to 
    demonstration at the agency's seventh biennial Symposium.


    SCCWRP marine programs coordinator Dario Diehl takes apart SCCWRP's 
    autonomous underwater vehicle to show how it works during a demonstration 
    at the SCCWRP Symposium.


    Catherine Kuhlman, executive director of the California Ocean Protection 
    Council, discusses how climate change will impact SCCWRP's 14 member 
    agencies during the 2015 Symposium plenary session, which kicked off 
    the all-day event.

    Attendees at the seventh biennial SCCWRP Symposium mix and mingle between 
    sessions. The invitation-only event brought together the staff of all 14 SCCWRP 
    member agencies for a day-long event to learn about SCCWRP research.

  • SCCWRP leads Stormwater Monitoring Coalition kickoff event in Santa Monica Mountains

    March 24, 2015:

    Members of the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition reviewed protocols for assessing the health of the region’s streams during a SCCWRP-hosted training and intercalibration exercise on February 19 that kicked off the second cycle of the coalition’s Regional Watershed Monitoring Program.
     
    The kickoff event, which was held at Medea Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains near Agoura Hills, included opportunities to review bioassessment protocols and wetland assessment protocols.
     
    Participants also learned how to identify evidence of hydromodification and to characterize channel engineering – two types of monitoring that are being added to the program’s second, five-year cycle. 
     
    About 24 people participated, including a number of SCCWRP member agencies.
     
    The Stormwater Monitoring Coalition is a multi-agency initiative to comprehensively assess the health of Southern California’s streams. The inaugural cycle of the coalition’s regional monitoring program kicked off in 2009; from the lessons learned, participants developed and refined a second, five-year cycle that was launched in 2014.
     
    Among the coalition’s newest collaborators is the National Park Service, which runs the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area where the training exercise was held.
     
    For more information about the training event and the 2014 cycle of the SMC’s Regional Watershed Monitoring Program, contact Dr. Raphael Mazor.


    Members of the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition 
    review stream assessment protocols at Madea Creek in the Santa 
    Monica Mountains, part of a day-long, SCCWRP-hosted training event 
    that kicked off the second cycle of the Regional Watershed Monitoring 
    Program.


    Participants in the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring 
    Coalition's Regional Watershed Monitoring Program review 
    bioassessment and wetland assessment protocols on February 19 in the 
    Santa Monica Mountains. The monitoring program's second cycle was 
    launched in 2014.