The availability and quality of fresh water are critical for a sustainable society. Combined pressures of population growth, economic development, and climate variability expose such regions to water scarcity and are inspiring exploration of alternative sources and conservation strategies.
Problem statement: The current water-based challenges facing the global community, including our region of San Diego County, Northern Baja California, and the Imperial Valley, are projected to intensify. Future water security in many areas of the world, including southern California, will require both increased supply through wastewater reuse and desalination, and demand management through integrated resource management strategies. Non-point-source pollution will continue to harm downstream ecosystems and human health. Alternative water supply strategies, including wastewater reuse, can also have ecological benefits by reducing discharges into the environment.
Vision: Our vision is that SDSU will become a global leader in developing advanced understanding and solutions for water resources issues in water-scarce areas, using the San Diego-Border region as a model that can be applied in other regions experiencing similar water scarcity, including areas of active research by the 5 core faculty (India, Brazil, Mexico, southern Africa).
Our skills and capabilities include:
- Hydrological modeling (surface and groundwater)
- Water quality monitoring and modeling, including real-time monitoring
- Advanced water quality analysis, contaminants of emerging concern
- Laboratory and pilot studies of advanced and decentralized wastewater treatment
- Microbial analysis and source identification
- Mobile apps and online tools for solutions in agriculture and water quality
The team has contributed to solutions of pressing problems, including:
- Watershed modeling to identify sources of sediment to the coast
- Quantifying impacts of fire on flooding, erosion, and water quality
- Flood modeling to delineate floodplains and identify green infrastructure solutions
- Using isotopes in water to quantify imported water in streams during low flow
- Advanced water analysis (microbes, caffeine) to identify sources of contamination in the San Diego and Tijuana Rivers
- Ecotoxicological experiments to identify safe levels of contaminants
- Wastewater treatment techniques to recover nutrients
- Determination of oil degradation rates in the coastal environment
- Development of online tools to predict flow of pathogens through treatment systems.
Links to other organizations on campus: Many members of our team are also affiliated with the Watershed Science Institute, which was founded a year prior to Blue Gold. Please see the WSI website for additional information on other faculty at SDSU interested in Watershed Science.