Thursday, May 10, 2012

UCSB Bren School project

The Watershed Council meeting this week included a presentation on a recently initiated project to develop a water budget for the Ventura River watershed by a team from the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management:

Sustainable Water Use in the Ventura River Watershed

A group of six graduate students from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara has initiated a year-long master’s thesis on sustainable water use in the Ventura River watershed. The team plans on taking an interdisciplinary approach towards identifying opportunities for economically and environmentally beneficial water management strategies within the watershed. In order to meet these goals the group plans to create a comprehensive water budget for the Ventura River watershed utilizing the WEAP (Water Evaluation and Planning System) Model. This water budget will combine data from existing groundwater and surface water models with economic analysis for use in evaluating different water management scenarios.

The WEAP Model ( is a software tool that assists resource planners with integrated water management. It has been used successfully to evaluate water quality and quantity issues worldwide, at a variety of scales, by a number of agencies and planners.

Once the model is set up, it can be used to evaluate the effects of changes in climate, water use, and management practices such as:

Reusing urban greywater for irrigation and other non-potable uses in order to increase water-use efficiency.

Installing decentralized wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Ojai to decrease energy costs associated with water transport.

Implementing stormwater BMPs to improve water quality and to help achieve TMDLs for algae.

Using the WEAP Model, the team intends to identify easily-implementable projects which may result in significant savings in water, energy, and money throughout the watershed.

Improving the understanding of the water-budget by clearly mapping out the complex interconnections between various water uses and sources within the watershed is a necessary step towards integrated watershed management.

The team intends to create a tool that will be useful for water users and resource planners within the Ventura River watershed. In order to achieve this, it is critical that suggestions, comments, and criticisms from the community be considered at every step.

Please do not hesitate to contact the project team via email at:

The team members are: Ryan Gardner, Naheed Iqbal, Austin Love, Brenda Ponton, Jake Sahl, Dan Yocum.  The Faculty Sponsor is Dr. Arturo Keller, Professor, School of Environmental Science and Management University of California Santa Barbara

More on the current Bren School Projects here: