Tuesday January 9, 2024

The Confluence

For decades, California has supported research to improve water resources management. Within our archives at the California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR), we have records of nearly 250 funded research projects going back fifty years. This led us to ask, how have water research topics in California changed over time?

First, let’s step back in history. In 1957, with State Water Project construction looming, the California State Legislature funded the first University of California Water Resources Center at UCLA to provide training and research for water planning. Soon after, in 1964, the federal Water Resources Research Act authorized water research institutes in each state. In California, the existing UC Water Resources Center became part of the new network of federal institutes. Located first at UCLA, then UC Davis and UC Riverside, the Water Resources Center coordinated research, extension, and education activities, and also maintained California’s Water Resources Center Archives. In 2011, the WRC reopened as the California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR) within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR).

For decades, CIWR and its predecessors have offered grants for water research at California’s universities. The focus and scope of funded projects have evolved. From 1970 to 1999, the California Water Resources Center typically funded a few projects each year by University of California (UC) researchers. From 1999-2008, the program grew with state support and funded 7-20 research projects across five categories including hydrology, ecosystems, water quality, management, and law & policy. Since 2011, the California Institute for Water Resources has funded research projects at UC (campuses and extension) and California State University campuses. CIWR has administered nearly $2 million in federal funds, including $1 million to early career researchers, which are all matched by state funding. While these grants are only a small part of water research in the state, the grants for early career academics are an indicator of emerging water research in California.

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