Sources on California's drought: UC Davis experts

Experts available to the media: drought and water-supply issues in California.

University of California, Davis
April 16, 2014

Experts from the University of California, Davis, are available to media to discuss the drought and water-supply issues affecting California.


Economic impact on agriculture and consumers

Daniel Sumner is the Frank H. Buck professor of agricultural and resource economics and the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. He can discuss the impact of drought on the economy, commodity and food markets, food availability, and consumer food prices. He can explain how farmers are likely to adjust the crops they grow, as well as how food prices will be affected in California and around the nation. Contact: Daniel Sumner, Agricultural and Resource Economics, 530-752-1668, dasumner@ucdavis.edu.

Drought impacts for ranchers

Ken Tate is a professor and UC Cooperative Extension rangeland watershed specialist, as well as the Russell L. Rustici Endowed Chair in Rangeland Watershed Sciences. He and postdoctoral researcher Leslie Roche work closely with ranchers to help them cope with the drought, which has severely impacted California’s 41 million acres of rangeland. This rangeland is vitally important as a source of livestock forage, wildlife habitat, plant diversity and clean water. Read about this work at the Rangeland Watershed Laboratory website, http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu. Contact: Ken Tate, Rangeland Watershed Laboratory 530-754-8988, kwtate@ucdavis.edu.

Groundwater contamination and resources

Thomas Harter is an expert on groundwater occurrence, groundwater flow, recharge dynamics, the role of rivers, precipitation, and irrigation in maintaining our aquifers, and on how human activities and agriculture affect groundwater quality. He holds the Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy, is a professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources and a UC Cooperative Extension groundwater hydrologist. He works with the agricultural industry and government agencies to manage groundwater resources. Learn more at http://groundwater.ucdavis.edu. Contact: Thomas Harter, Land, Air and Water Resources, 530-400-1784, thharter@ucdavis.edu.


Water supplies, delivery systems and conservation

Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, can discuss the short-term and prolonged impacts of drought on California’s water supply. He has particular expertise in water management and policy and the relationship between Northern California water supply and water deliveries statewide. He wrote CALVIN (California Value Integrated Network), a computer model that analyzes statewide water supplies and delivery, and projects impacts of climate, storage and other changes. Contact: Jay Lund, Civil and Environmental Engineering, 530-752-5671, jrlund@ucdavis.edu.

Planning and managing water resources:

Samuel Sandoval, an assistant professor and UC Cooperative Extension specialist, is an expert in water resources planning and management. He works with scientists, engineers, environmentalists, system operators and decision makers to integrate ideas into policies and quantify the benefits and drawbacks. He has helped develop educational materials (California Water Virtual Tour and the Water and Drought Online Seminar Series) to cope with negative effects due to drought and water scarcity. Contact: Samuel Sandoval, 530-754-9646 samsandoval@ucdavis.edu.


Watershed management and fish

Peter Moyle, a professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology and associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences, is an authority on freshwater and estuarine fishes of California. He has monitored native fish populations through droughts for more than four decades and has documented the declining status of native fishes, as well as the invasions of alien species. In a study published in 2013, he and fellow scientists determined that climate change and human-caused degradation to aquatic habitats threatens extinction of over 80 percent of California’s native fish. Contact: Peter Moyle, Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, 530-752-6355, pbmoyle@ucdavis.edu.

Ecosystems and wildlife

Mark Schwartz, director of the John Muir Institute for the Environment at UC Davis, is a plant ecologist and a professor of environmental science and policy.  His research focuses on conservation and the relation to climate change adaptation. He can discuss how drought impacts various plant and animal ecosystems in California. Contact: Mark Schwartz, John Muir Institute for the Environment, 530-752-0671, mwschwartz@ucdavis.edu.

Effects of water diversions on fish

Lisa Thompson, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, can discuss the effects of dams, hydropower operations, and water diversions on rivers and lakes, with a focus on freshwater fish, salmon, and steelhead. She conducts field and laboratory-based studies, and also uses computer models to predict the impacts of climate change on salmon and the effectiveness of water management adaptations to counteract these impacts. Contact: Lisa Thompson, Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, 530-754-5732, lcthompson@ucdavis.edu.


Drought-tolerant landscapes and sustainable gardening practices

Ellen Zagory, director of public horticulture for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, is an expert on plant propagation and sustainable planting design. She helped develop the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars — 100 plants with properties tested by horticultural staff for possessing many qualities that make them outstanding choices for any landscape, including their heat and drought tolerance. Zagory’s current projects include helping to convert a variety of campus settings from little-used, high-maintenance, high-water landscapes to heat-tolerant, low-water, low-maintenance landscapes. She travels the state to instruct UC Cooperative Extension master gardeners and regional garden clubs about steps they can take toward more sustainable gardening practices. Contact: Ellen Zagory, UC Davis Arboretum, 530-752-3145, arboretum@ucdavis.edu

Converting lawns to natural meadows

Andrew Fulks, assistant director of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, manages the campus’ natural landscape areas for teaching, research and public use. He is an expert on converting landscapes from high-maintenance and high-water use to regionally appropriate landscapes with multiple aesthetic and wildlife benefits. His knowledge of the measures the campus has used to decrease its outdoor water use and improve stormwater quality can be applied at both institutional and homeowner scales. His current projects include managing the 700-acre streamside and grassland ecosystem at the UC Davis Putah Creek Riparian Reserve and the re-establishment of a native California grassland at UC Davis Russell Ranch. He can speak to the steps involved in converting lawns to attractive, natural, drought-tolerant meadows using wildflowers and native grasses. Contact: Andrew Fulks 530-219-7618, amfulks@ucdavis.edu.

Landscaping with drought-tolerant California natives

Taylor Lewis, horticulturist and nursery manager for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Teaching Nursery, has studied the best methods for planting and growing California natives, and has worked to make them publicly available. With his calendar of when California natives bloom in hand, he teaches seminars statewide to dispel the myth that California native landscapes are not aesthetically pleasing. Lifetime Master Gardener and local radio talk show host of the “KFBK Garden Show” Farmer Fred Hoffman refers to Lewis as “…one of the biggest influences on the use of California natives in the state.” Lewis is an expert on how homeowners can make their landscapes drought-tolerant by incorporating California natives. He is currently working on propagating California native plants for use throughout campus and for sale to the public. Contact: Taylor Lewis, tclewis@ucdavis.edu.


Richard Frank, professor of environmental practice at the School of Law, can comment on legal and policy issues arising out of California's drought. His areas of expertise include California water rights law, drought-related legislation and regulatory tools, and water governance issues in the state. He has written on these issues and testified before Congressional and California state legislative committees on these topics. Contact: Richard Frank at 530-752-7422, rmfrank@ucdavis.edu.


Water rates and water-energy efficiency

Frank Loge is director of the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a member of the Davis Water Advisory Committee, he was instrumental in formulating the city’s proposed Consumption-Based Fixed-Rate pricing structure. Loge can discuss the link between water and energy from a hydrological perspective: energy used in water production, treatment, use and disposal, as well as the development of novel efficiency technologies. He can also discuss the effects of dam operations on migratory fish in the Columbia/Snake River basins and the biologic impacts of water drawdowns and hydraulic engineering on striped bass and Delta smelt in the San Francisco Bay Delta and Estuary. Contact: Frank Loge, Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, 530-754-2297, fjloge@ucdavis.edu.

Water-energy nexus

Edward “Ned” Spang, program manager for the UC Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, is an expert on the water-energy nexus, the inextricable link between water and energy. He can discuss energy used to produce fresh water and water consumed in energy production at a local, national or global scale. He can also discuss water and energy policy. Contact: Edward Spang, Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, 530-754-5447, esspang@ucdavis.edu.

(This article was prepared by Patricia Bailey and Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, April 1, 2014.)

About UC Davis
For more than 100 years, UC Davis has been one place where people are bettering humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, over 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Nursing.

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