Media Advisory: Scientists, Bay Area officials meet to tackle water, climate issues

ATTENTION: Reporters covering state and local governments, environment, water and climate

WHAT: “Bay Area Water in a Changing Climate,” a half-day workshop bringing together local water officials and Bay Area scientists to discuss how university researchers can help the region’s cities adapt to water shortages caused by climate change.

climate readiness instituteWHEN: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WHERE: David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley

WHO: Among the speakers will be officials and/or staff from the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Contra Costa Water District; the East Bay Municipal Utility District; the cities of Berkeley and Benicia; the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Greenbelt Alliance, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and Public Policy Institute of California; and scientists from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), including:

  • David Sedlak, co-director of the UC Berkeley Water Center, professor of civil and environmental engineering and author of the 2014 book Water 4.0
  • David Ackerly, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology
  • William Collins, LBNL, UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science, and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

DETAILS: California Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency last year and the institution of severe restrictions on water use statewide have hit cities and counties hard as they expand and enhance their efforts to encourage conservation and develop new water sources.

In the face of these challenges, the Climate Readiness Institute, a coalition of scientists from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Stanford University and LBNL, is hosting a four-hour meeting with local water officials and other Bay Area leaders to discuss how academic research can help them deal with the current drought and the broader shift in California’s climate.

“These are experts on making water come out of a tap,” said William Collins, director of CRI and a climate modeler based at LBNL and UC Berkeley. “This meeting will focus on what the current drought could mean for the Bay Area and what kind of long-term steps, whether it be adaptation or mitigation, we should be taking.”

Berkeley scientists will discuss topics such as rebooting water systems to be more modern, the health implications of drought, and the impact water shortages and increasing water demands will have on ecosystems around the Bay.

“We want to look beyond the solutions already in hand and ask, ‘What additional techniques need to be developed to address these looming water-supply problems, such as the inevitable disappearance of the Sierra snowpack by the end of the century,’” said Collins, who is head of LBNL’s Climate Sciences Department and a UC Berkeley professor in residence of earth and planetary science. “We want our researchers and students to rub shoulders with and work side-by-side with people from the real world to develop information useful for planning purposes over the long term. We need to tackle these problems together.”

Collins noted, for example, that the same global climate models he uses in his own research could be refocused to predict temperature and climate impacts locally. Researchers at LBNL are already looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of desalination to make sea water potable.

NOTE: Reporters interested in attending should email bruce@climatereadinessinstitute.org