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  • Economist to discuss funding shortfalls in California’s water management efforts

    November 18, 2014:

    Dr. Ellen Hanak, an economist who studies funding challenges associated with public water management in California, will discuss the long-term unfunded water needs of the state during a one-hour morning seminar on Friday, November 21, hosted by SCCWRP.
     
    Hanak’s presentation, titled “Paying for Water in California,” will explain the funding gaps associated with providing safe drinking water in rural communities and upgrading aging flood-protection infrastructure. Hanak, a senior fellow at the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute of California, also will discuss the estimated costs of improving remediation for urban pollution runoff, ecosystem recovery and restoration efforts, and inter-agency collaboration to streamline watershed management.
     
    Overall, California’s funding gaps are estimated at $2 billion to $3 billion annually, according to a comprehensive report released in March that Hanak co-authored. 
     
    Hanak’s talk is part of SCCWRP’s Fall 2014 Seminar Series. The six-part series runs from August to December.
     
    Hanak’s one-hour seminar is scheduled for November 21 at 11 a.m. at SCCWRP’s headquarters, 3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. As with all SCCWRP seminars, the talk is free and open to the public; no RSVPs are necessary. For more information, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


    Dr. Ellen Hanak is an economist 
    and a senior fellow at the Public 
    Policy Institute of California.

  • SCCWRP’s beach microbial water-quality research profiled in new Bio-Rad web feature

    November 07, 2014:

    SCCWRP’s pioneering work to develop faster, more effective microbial monitoring methods for beach ocean water is featured in an extensive new magazine article and accompanying short documentary from the life sciences company Bio-Rad.

    Bio-Rad’s online magazine BioRadiations chronicled the challenges of designing a monitoring method capable of delivering reliable water-quality results within hours, then explained how SCCWRP’s use of Bio-Rad Droplet Digital PCR technology could revolutionize how beach managers decide when coastal waters become unsafe to enter. The most common reason beaches are closed is when high levels of pathogens from urban areas run down to the coast via rain and other runoff. 

    “We’re interested in making sure we’re using the most advanced methods to protect public health from pathogens, primarily from human waste,” Dr. John Griffith, head of the SCCWRP’s Microbiology Department, said in the October 15 article. 

    Preliminary SCCWRP data reveal that the bacteria types commonly indicating the presence of fecal matter in ocean water can be more accurately and efficiently quantified using BioRad’s ddPCR assay technology. 

    The BioRadiations article and accompanying five-minute documentary film include extensive interviews and footage featuring Griffith, SCCWRP microbiologist Dr. Yiping Cao and SCCWRP senior research technician Meredith Raith. 

    The article, titled “Protecting Coastal Ecosystems with Droplet Digital PCR,” is highlighted on the BioRadiations site. Based in Hercules, Calif., Bio-Rad is a global corporation serving more than 100,000 research and industry customers.

    For more information, contact Dr. John Griffith.


  • U.S. EPA watersheds site features Calif. healthy streams program co-developed by SCCWRP

    October 28, 2014:

    A statewide healthy streams initiative that SCCWRP helped shape has been selected as one of three U.S. watershed protection programs to be showcased on a newly revamped federal watersheds website.
     
    The California Healthy Streams Partnership, part of the state-run Water Quality Monitoring Council, is featured on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s watersheds website this month alongside healthy-watershed counterpart programs in Maryland and Tennessee. 
     
    The California Healthy Streams Partnership is a work group formed by state water officials to improve monitoring of the state’s stream and river ecosystems and to foster better-informed resource management decisions and actions, especially for threatened and impaired areas. SCCWRP is represented on the work group, along with other state and federal agencies, research universities and nonprofit groups.
     
    The California Healthy Streams Partnership is using a program funded by the EPA – known as the California Healthy Watersheds Assessment – to support various stream assessments.
     
    The two other featured programs on the EPA watersheds site are the Tennessee Health Watershed Initiative and the Annapolis, Md.-based Chesapeake Bay Program, which is working to restore the expansive Chesapeake estuary.
     
    For more information, contact Dr. Eric Stein.


  • Fulbright visiting scientist to study climate change at SCCWRP

    October 24, 2014:

    Australian environmental scientist Dr. Neil Saintilan, who heads the water and wetlands team for the New South Wales government’s environmental agency, will join SCCWRP in mid November as a Fulbright Scholar in Climate Change and Clean Energy.

    During his three-month tenure as a visiting professional scholar at SCCWRP, Saintilan will study the capacity of tidal wetlands to capture atmospheric carbon and store it for long periods in wetland soils. 

    Saintilan’s project is part of the International Blue Carbon Initiative, which focuses on mitigating climate change by conserving and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems that have the ability to store “blue” carbon. Quantifying the benefit of “blue” carbon storage could pave the way for market-based incentives for wetland restoration and conservation, via carbon pollution offsets.

    Saintilan said he was interested in working in Southern California because of the similarities between the coastlines of his native southeastern Australia and of Southern California, including climate, geography and population dynamics. 

    “Management responses have evolved separately on the two sides of the Pacific, and the Fulbright fellowship provides an opportunity for a sharing of perspectives and approaches to these common challenges,” Saintilan said.

    Saintilan’s Fulbright Scholarship is sponsored by the Australian and U.S. governments and co-hosted by the Imperial Beach, Calif.-based Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Saintilan will work under SCCWRP’s Dr. Eric Stein, head of the Biology Department.

    Based in Sydney, Saintilan is a senior principal research scientist in the Office of Environment and Heritage, which is the environmental agency for the Australian state of New South Wales. He leads a group of about 20 scientists who conduct research in support of improved management of aquatic ecosystems.

    Saintilan holds a bachelor’s in biology and geography and a Ph.D. in biogeography, both from the University of Sydney.


    Dr. Neil Saintilan is an Australian 
    environmental scientist who works 
    for the state environmental agency 
    in New South Wales. 

  • Standards, methods for probability mapping of California’s aquatic resources released

    October 21, 2014:

    A new report has been released that outlines how to use standardized probability-mapping protocols to track wetlands and other aquatic resources in California, paving the way for scientists to build a cost-effective, California-specific program to assess changes in condition over time.
     
    Co-authored by SCCWRP on behalf of the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup, the “California Aquatic Resources Status and Trends Program: Mapping Methodology” report establishes mapping standards and methods that are to be used when monitoring wetlands and other aquatic resources using California’s existing framework. This framework, known as the California Status and Trends program, is adapted from a federal probability-mapping program developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Details of the program design are provided in SCCWRP Technical Report No. 706
     
    The California Status and Trends program includes about 2,000 randomly selected plots across the state that allow scientists to generate comprehensive, probability-based maps of all aquatic resources, from lakes to streams to wetlands.
     
    The methodology report ensures that the standards and methods used to generate the maps will be consistent and yield comparable results across the state.
     
    The methodology report, which was released this month, was produced by scientists at SCCWRP, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, California State University, Northridge and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. It is available online as SCCWRP Technical Report No. 833.
     
    For more information, contact Dr. Eric Stein.


  • Changes, losses to northern San Diego County estuaries documented in new historical ecology study

    October 20, 2014:

    A new historical ecology study of northern San Diego County estuaries co-authored by SCCWRP has found that the region’s coastal lagoons have shrunk by only about 15% over the past century, bucking a trend of significant estuarine losses across Southern California.
     
    The study, “Northern San Diego County Lagoons: Historical Ecology Investigation,” examined six major estuaries spanning an 18-mile swath of northern San Diego County’s coastline. 

    The estuaries have experienced significant changes in habitat types as a result of urbanization, according to the study. Seasonally flooded salt flats cover 90% less area than they once did, replaced by other habitat types like perennial open water, which has expanded its footprint by more than 600%, the study found.
     
    But the estuaries are relatively intact compared to the nearly half of Southern California estuarine areas that have disappeared since the 19th century.
     
    The report, published by the San Francisco Estuary Institute for the California State Coastal Conservancy, was co-authored by scientists from SFEI, the University of Southern California, California State University, Northridge and SCCWRP. 
     
    Hard copies are available for sale for $45 on Amazon; the report also is available online as SCCWRP Technical Report No. 831.
     
    For more information, contact Dr. Eric Stein.



    Early landscape photos such as this one of San Diego County's Buena Vista Lagoon from the early 20th century provide important clues about the historical conditions of the region's coastal estuaries. Buena Vista Lagoon was one of six major estuaries studied in northern San Diego County to understand how the region's wetland areas have changed over the past century.