A UC Merced professor has been named to the new Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center, which was established this year in an attempt to help meet the state’s need for timely information and innovative water management during its record drought.
An expert in water resources management with UC Merced’s School of Engineering, Joshua Viers was recently appointed to serve with the center’s team of advisers, university officials announced last week.
His role with the center is to help develop new ideas for solving California’s water challenges.
“With the continued drought, it is imperative that we bring together the best ideas in a nonpartisan forum to develop the best solution for meeting California’s water supply needs in cities, farms and the environment,” Viers said. “The new PPIC Water Policy Center will do just that.”
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Along with the center’s launch, the team of experts released “California’s Water,” a report on policy briefs on the state’s most critical water management challenges and what’s needed to address them.
The report is designed to inform state leaders and raise awareness more broadly about the important water management issues facing the state.
The report came the same week as Gov. Jerry Brown’s sweeping new directives to reduce water consumption by state residents, including a mandatory 25 percent cut in urban water use.
A survey was conducted this week, an annual ritual marking the end of winter, in which automated sensors and technicians in the field strive to measure how much water the state’s farms and cities will receive from snow melt.
The measurements showed the snowpack at just 5 percent of average for April 1, well below the previous record low of 25 percent, which was reached last year and in 1977.
Water and watershed have been a focus of UC Merced and its research institutes, such as the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. Viers said UC Merced is filling a growing role in the region and state, and his appointment with the center is proof of that.
UC Merced was recently named the home of the UC system’s new Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative, which Viers oversees along with Roger Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
The Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center is supposed to focus on three critical water management challenges facing California:
▪ Ensuring clean and reliable water supplies.
▪ Building healthy and resilient ecosystems.
▪ Preparing for droughts and floods.
Viers is conducting research related to climate, water, energy, food and the environment using statistical and geographic technologies – also called “geospatial” technologies – and data mining.
He is also the director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at UC Merced.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.