Moving the needle on local water for Los Angeles

November 29, 2017
Professor Glen MacDonald (Geography) presenting on his research: Regional and Urban Vegetation Browning and the Recent Drought – A Preview of Los Angeles’ Future?
Asma Mahdi

On November 29, 2017, the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Water Research Symposium gathered researchers from across campus to share their work and perspectives on realizing local water for Los Angeles. Bringing together the UCLA research community and representatives from the City and County of LA, the symposium was a platform to inform on-the-ground regional sustainability planning efforts with the latest water research progress and findings. It was the first time that many stakeholders across the region had an opportunity to see the breadth of water research that has emerged from the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

The Water Research Symposium focused on three main components of the path to 100-percent local water by 2050: reducing water consumption, maximizing local water supply, and improving local water resource management. However, within these broad categories were a range of lenses that looked at water issues from various angles. Each unique perspective emphasized how to overcome obstacles so Los Angeles can achieve water self-sufficiency. Projects included the role of gender on water-use habits, future climate patterns, and environmental justice issues arising from drought and water management.

Throughout the day, researchers independently discussed their project’s goals, progress, and next steps. They then joined a panel discussion with the other presenters in their group.

Following the presentations, researchers and attendees participated in two breakout sessions. On one end of the room, UCLA researchers, and city and county representatives discussed the importance of communicating results to decision makers and ways to improve the dissemination of research so the city and the county can make proactive, lasting changes. On the other end, UCLA researchers and local practitioners discussed how climate and hydrology models might be integrated to provide decision makers with the best possible information on future water availability under a hotter and more erratic LA climate. The group also worked together to brainstorm new ways to share data and improve modeling.

Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability and leader of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, said the day sparked enthusiasm for more dialogue from both researchers and agency representatives, “I think this was a really good springboard for setting up that mechanism on a more regular basis,” Gold said.

This symposium is the second in a series of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge symposia. The next symposium will focus on renewable energies and related innovative technologies and research, thereafter there will be a session focused on enhancing biodiversity in the region.

For more information about the water symposium, please visit the event site.

This post was written by Conor Cusack. He is a geography/ environmental studies major in his senior year, an outdoor enthusiast and a writer for Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.