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UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: California Institute for Water Resources

Davis, CA

https://ciwr.ucanr.edu/

Educational Resources for Community Drinking Water Needs in California

Desired Skills/Traits:

  • Academic Background: Degree in a field related to environmental science and policy, environmental studies, civil or environmental engineering, or a related field. 
    Able to work independently and with a team to solve problems and think creatively
    Experience or interest in developing educational resources that describe technical topics and relate to community needs in accessible ways
    Experience or interest in working with technical experts throughout California to compile scientific information and resources
    Interest or experience in understanding community needs and perspectives for drinking water and wastewater solutions 
    Knowledge of water quality management and water treatment
    Interest in watershed management issues, including water quality and groundwater
    Experience working with low-income or marginalized communities
    Proficiency in Spanish or other languages spoken in California communities is a plu

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Climate Mitigation & Adaptation; Education & Outreach

project breakdown

Research

30%

Planning

20%

Implementation

20%

Education & Outreach

30%

Goals & Needs

The California Institute for Water Resources (CWIR) and collaborators within the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) support statewide water planning and management needs. An important policy goal is ensuring access to safe and affordable drinking water for all Californians. In the next decade, California will spend over $1 billion dollars on drinking water infrastructure projects, especially in small communities. A network of academic researchers in California has supported development of statewide policies in the past decade through many studies, including the initial Drinking Water Needs Assessment in 2022.
The GrizzlyCorps Fellow will support research and educational resource development that translates state of knowledge and technical information available for community-based organizations and others working on safe and affordable drinking water. The fellow will coordinate with experts in water treatment, governance, and regulations across California to compile and communicate research in concise ways such as fact sheets, which summarize knowledge of drinking water risks, contaminants of concerns, household actions, and available assistance. The fellow will have an opportunity to research collaborators and engage with communities and community-based organizations to understand information needs through venues such as listening sessions. The position will have an opportunity to work with University of California Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors to address policy issues that to date have received limited attention, including baseline evaluations of drinking water systems in transient and non-community water systems such as farms. Finally, the fellow will lead or help coordinate the translation of materials into other languages based on community engagement

 

Capacity Building Projects

The GrizzlyCorps Fellow will have an opportunity to compile research to support the development of educational resources that fill information gaps and address disparities in drinking water access in California. In California, the past two years have demonstrated how future climate trends will stress existing water policies and regulations. From 2022 to 2023, the state pivoted from extreme drought to severe flooding. In California’s Central Valley, communities with limited capital to invest in infrastructure are often the most impacted from natural disasters. These communities face simultaneous risks of: insecure access to drinking water from failing groundwater wells; and water quality threats to drinking water sources from flooding. A growing emphasis for groundwater recharge on agricultural lands in the state has raised new questions regarding the protection of groundwater basins that support both farms and communities. 

The Fellow will work with CIWR staff and collaborators across UC and CSU campuses to compile research for drinking water contaminant prevalence in regions, potential health effects of contaminants, and available knowledge of how emergent practices such as groundwater recharge affect drinking water quality. This knowledge will be compiled into educational materials that fill an existing gap: fact sheets and resources that tailor knowledge for communities by understanding questions and concerns of those communities. The Fellow will also have an opportunity to conduct applied research for drinking water needs of small systems in sectors that have received limited attention in recent policy development, including non-community water systems that serve populations such as farm and ranch workers and small rural businesses. The most important outcomes of this project include:

  • Improved, openly available educational resources (virtual and printed) that summarize drinking water contaminants and regulations, which provide technical information that communities can use to support planning,

  • Reproducible templates and digital infrastructure to store, organize, and promote resources, which can be used to support future development of educational resources that evolve with policy needs.

  • A baseline evaluation that estimates technical and fiscal needs for safe drinking water in sectors such as non-community systems including farms, ranches, and small rural businesses with transient or year-round populations. 

The Fellow will work closely with CIWR leadership on the project and will also be supported by advisory experts of University of California faculty and Cooperative Extension specialists with expertise in water system treatment and governance. The Fellow will also have an opportunity to engage with community-based organizations, state and regional regulatory agencies, and specialists and advisors throughout the University of California Cooperative Extension with personnel based in every county of California. 
 

Organizational & Community Highlights

The California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR) is located within the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and based in Davis, CA. CIWR conducts research on sustainable water resources management for urban, environmental, and agricultural systems. CIWR is a member of the National Institutes for Water Resources and serves as a hub of water research in California. CIWR supports water research projects throughout the state, coordinates extension programs to improve irrigation and climate-smart agricultural practices, and conducts research on urban and water resources management. CIWR has a leading program in research communications for water and environmental science in California, including hosting the Water Talk podcast and our blog The Confluence. 

CIWR has a core team of staff and faculty and works with research collaborators throughout UC ANR, the University of California, and California State University. CIWR also works with non-profit organizations and public agencies on water management issues. In Spring 2023, CIWR started a student internship programs where students focus on research projects related to water policy and management topics. Through the project, the Fellow will have opportunities to work with core CIWR staff and research collaborators. Additionally, as part of the University of California system, the Fellow will have opportunities to work with UC academics and staff with expertise in a variety of disciplines, including access to online and in-person and professional development opportunities offered by UC ANR.
 

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