Ken Goldberg Investigates Robot-Assisted Precision Irrigation To Help Address Global Water Demand

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided University of California researchers a $1 million grant to investigate how robots might help revolutionize global agriculture with precision irrigation. IEOR Professor Ken Goldberg, in collaboration with UC Merced Professor Stefano Carpin and Professor Josh Viers, and UC Davis Professor Stavros Vougioukas, started a project called RAPID (Robot-Assisted Precision Irrigation Delivery) to utilize robots to reduce water usage while improving yields.

Measuring household consumption and waste in unmetered, intermittent piped water systems

Measurements of household water consumption are extremely difficult in intermittent water supply (IWS) regimes in low- and middle-income countries, where water is delivered for short durations, taps are shared, metering is limited, and household storage infrastructure varies widely. Nonetheless, consumption estimates are necessary for utilities to improve water delivery. Emily Kumpel, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Isha Ray , and Kara L. Nelson estimated household water use in Hubli-Dharwad, India, with a mixed-methods approach combining (limited) metered data, storage container inventories, and structured observations. 

NATURE’S WATER FILTER

Researchers are searching for more cost-effective alternatives for treating wastewater. Professor David Sedlak  of UC Berkeley is working on a solution: constructed wetlands with graduate students Aidan Cecchetti and Rachel Scholes.

NSF Awards $3M to Dev. Engineering: Kara Nelson, Co-Director

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3 million to Berkeley’s Development Engineering program to create new models for training graduate students to find innovative solutions to food, energy and water challenges in developing countries. Professor Kara Nelson is a co-leader of the program.  Professor Ashok Gadgil was instrumental in creating the Development Engineering minor.

Thompson, Boisramé and Fire Management

PhD student Gabrielle Boisramé and Professor Sally Thompson have co-authored a study that shows that managing fire, rather than suppressing it, makes wilderness areas more resilient to fire—with the added benefit of increased water availability and resistance to drought.

Hermanowicz & Sedlak give keynote lectures at ICSI in Shenzhen, China

CEE Professor Slav Hermanowicz and BWC Co-Director David Sedlak gave keynote lectures at the International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI 2016) was held in Shenzhen from October 17-19, under the theme of “a sustainable future for China, the Asian region and the world.”

Lessons in Flow Cytometry

Using a simple inquiry as a teaching moment, Berkeley Water Center PhD student Scott Miller invited fellow students into the lab to learn about flow cytometry and its applications to measure water quality.

NewsDeeply: Berkeley Experts to Watch

Water Deeply, a news source designed to help people understand the complex web of environmental, social and economic issues contributing to the drought crisis in California, has compiled a list of water experts to watch and Berkeley Water Center experts, affiliates and alumni are in demand.

Baoxia Mi speaks at NAE symposium

Professor Baoxia Mi was one of the 17 invited speakers at the 2016 National Academy of Engineering US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, held on September 19-21 in Irvine, California.

Well in Control: Berkeley Startup Helps People Find Out What They’re Drinking

Tens of millions of U.S. residents get their water from private wells that have no oversight at all, but a team of Berkeley scientists and entrepreneurs—led by John Pujol, civil and environmental engineer; and Susan Amrose, assistant project scientist and lecturer in Cal’s engineering department, and program director at Berkeley Lab’s Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies are on it.

CEE alumna gives TED talk on why water is a women's issue [video]

Eleanor Allen (CE MS '97) and 2015 Academy of Distinguished Alumni inductee gave a TED talk on Why Water is a Women's Issue.

Saykally continues quest for “universal first-principles” model of water

For a simple compound that is central to almost every aspect of our existence, water remains fiendishly difficult to understand. No one appreciates this better than chemistry professor Rich Saykally, who has devoted many years to studying water.

Study links Texas earthquakes to wastewater injection

A new study co-authored by UC Berkeley professor Michael Manga confirms that earthquakes in America’s oil country — including a 4.8 magnitude quake that rocked Texas in 2012 — are being triggered by significant injections of wastewater below the surface of the Earth.

As global climate warms, new study looks to minimize risks of waterborne disease

A UC Berkeley School of Public Health research team has been awarded a $2 million, 3-year grant by the National Science Foundation to develop new approaches for understanding and responding to changes in waterborne infectious disease risks that come with a changing and more variable climate.

Follow ocean-going robots, and their scientists, for 10 days at sea

What’s life like aboard a scientific research vessel plying the California coast deploying robots to unlock important data about climate change? A team of scientists and engineers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have just set out on such a venture. 

Peruvian Scientific Water Institute Visits BWC

Berkeley Water Center (BWC) leadership welcomed representatives from the Water Committee of the Inter-American Network of Academies of Science (IANAS) Thursday, July 21, 2016 to talk shop about BWC projects, operation, organization and future collaborations as part of a water group tour within the University of California system and the Bay Area.

Cancer-causing chemical in drinking water traced to fire-fighting foam

Fire-fighting foam containing highly fluorinated chemicals is contaminating drinking water supplies around many of the nation’s military bases, airports and industrial sites, according to a new study by UC Berkeley and Harvard University researchers

An Energy Strategy that Can Take the Heat

At first, it sounds ominous: Molten salts, heated to 600 or even 900 °C (about 1,700°F, pumped through the pipes surrounding a nuclear reactor. But a molten salt mixture may make a smart substitute for water to extract heat from nuclear reactors — or thermal solar power plants — and deliver it to turbines to generate electricity.

Rising seas: A new look at resilient infrastructure

We know that our changing climate will bring rising sea levels to the Bay Area. But do we know how to handle it? Mark Stacey, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has assembled a cross-disciplinary team to find out. The research is part of a National Science Foundation-sponsored initiative examining critical infrastructure resiliency.

Q&A: Lead, chloramines and drinking water safety

Conditions leading to widespread lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan are not unique to the troubled Rust Belt city. In recent decades, Flint and many other cities have made the switch from chlorine to chloramine for water treatment; this can, without proper management, release toxic lead from old pipes directly into drinking water. Here in California, the city of Stockton drew pointed criticism from environmental activist Erin Brockovich for making the switch in January. But as civil and environmental engineering professor David Sedlak explains, some of that fear may be misplaced.  

In the Water Works: Bringing Clean Water to Kenya’s Largest Slum

Nairobi is a tough town, and there’s no place in Nairobi that’s tougher than Kibera, Africa’s largest slum. Maybe a half-million people live there, maybe a million. No one’s really counting. But virtually everyone is desperately poor, with per capita earnings averaging about a dollar a day. Rape, assault, and murder are simple facts of daily life. The streets are paved with rotting garbage, sewage flows in the gutters, disease is rampant, and city services are largely nonexistent. But Kibera does have one thing that isn’t hellish and misery-inducing: a water production and treatment facility that conjoins the latest information and sensor technology with sophisticated green construction techniques; a facility that transcends its humble environs and points to the urban infrastructure of the future.

From waves to electricity

Reza Alam, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, studies how mechanical devices might convert ocean waves into electricity. In 2012, visiting graduate student Marcus Lehmann joined Alam’s Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Lab. His designs for a working prototype helped spark Alam’s lab to begin building a machine to harness wave energy, which they call a Wave Carpet.

Building an organ in the marsh

Madeline Foster-Martinez has built a marsh organ as part of her doctoral research in environmental engineering, a simple device that measures the effectiveness of using biosolids — treated sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants — as tidal wetland restoration material.

Hazards and opportunities in the pipeline

In his 2014 book, Water 4.0, UC Berkeley environmental engineer David Sedlak identifies four “revolutions” in the development of urban water systems.

Thompson, Penny win HESS Best Paper Award

Professor Sally Thompson and PhD candidate Gopal Penny, along with collaborators in India, received the 2015 Jim Dooge Award for the best paper in the European Geophysical Union's flagship journal "Hydrology and Earth System Science".

Change we must believe in

 Lynn Ingram, UC Berkeley professor of geography and earth and planetary science, likens paleoclimatology—the study of ancient climates—to detective work: she gathers “whatever evidence is remaining” and works out clever ways to translate physical attributes of natural artifacts into knowledge of Earth’s distant past.

Rising seas: A new look at resilient infrastructure

We know that our changing climate will bring rising sea levels to the Bay Area. But do we know how to handle it? Mark Stacey, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has assembled a cross-disciplinary team to find out. The research is part of a National Science Foundation-sponsored initiative examining critical infrastructure resiliency.

Using Mobile Phones to Alert Households Waiting for ‘NextDrop’ of Water

A UC Berkeley student created the phone-based program NextDrop to notify people when water will be available, because although nearly half of the world’s population has water piped into their homes and there have been significant improvements to water access in recent decades, many people living in urban areas of developing countries still do not have easy access to this most basic resource.

Water-Energy Nexus New Focus of Berkeley Lab Research

Billions of gallons of water are used each day in the United States for energy production—for hydroelectric power generation, thermoelectric plant cooling, and countless other industrial processes, including oil and gas mining. And huge amounts of energy are required to pump, treat, heat, and deliver water. This interdependence of water and energy is the focus of a major new research effort at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

ERG Professor Isha Ray: Health, Development and Poverty

ERG Professor Isha Ray discusses health, development and poverty in a panel discussion at the India under Modi Conference that was hosted on March 11-12, 2016.

WaterSeer Collider Winners Announced

 Teams in the the WaterSeer Collider were challenged to maximize the collection of clean water and develop a prototype utilizing Vici Labs’ patented WaterSeer technology which uses condensation from the air to create potable water. 

Researcher Uses Her Expertise to Help Women Grow Food in Zimbabwe

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory research scientist in the Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Divsion, Naama Raz-Yaseef, applies her expertise in water-limited ecosystems to help women grow food in Zimbabwe. 

The search for smarter energy and water strategies

As the changing climate disrupts familiar weather patterns, many countries face a dual threat: swamping along the coasts, but also unexpected shrinking freshwater supplies in many regions.

“Water has never been evenly distributed around the world, but droughts and an alarming decrease in groundwater create potentially catastrophic conditions,” says Ashok Gadgil, Deputy for Science and Technology for the Energy Technologies Area at LBNL and professor of environmental engineering at UC Berkeley.

International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Symposium

Twenty-one UC Berkeley students, faculty, and researchers presented at the Bay Area International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Symposium held on April 15th at Stanford University. 

Brazilian Delegates Visit BWC

The Berkeley Water Center hosted 10 international emerging leaders selected by the U.S. Embassy in Brazil to travel to the U.S. for a professional exchange program April 4, as part of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program from March 31 – April 8, 2016 for a discussion on how the center successfully pursues studies in water and promotes water-related research. 

Barazesh Earns Top Teaching Award

Berkeley Water Center doctoral student James Barazesh  was selected as a recipient of Berkeley's Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for 2015-16. 

Berkeley Goes to Beijing for World Water Day 2016

A delegation of researchers affiliated with the Berkeley Water Center was invited to participate in a day-long workshop in Beijing, China, for World Water Day (March 22). The Berkeley team included Professor Isha Ray (Energy and Resources Group), Professor Jack Colford (Public Health), Dr. Ayşe Ercumen (Public Health) and Alasdair Cohen (Environmental Science Policy and Management). 

Launch of paper by UC Berkeley authors at 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Isha Ray, Kara Nelson and Zachary Burt’s paper “Towards gender equality through sanitation access” was launched at the Emerging Issues in Gender and WASH during the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2016. The paper is also being published in UN Women’s Discussion Paper Series with the support of the Governments of Singapore and Germany. 

BWC Contributes to Creating Solutions For California’s Water Challenges

Stemming from the Where We Agree Project, the University of California Berkeley Water Center, Pacific Institute, California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association, and UC Davis Extension have created a set of practical recommendations for policymakers, municipal water managers, businesses, and community groups.

Sally Thompson Receives CAREER Award

Congratulations to Professor Sally Thompson for being a recipient of the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award for 2016.

David Sedlak elected to National Academy of Engineering

Sedlak is the Plato Malozemoff Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. He has been on the Berkeley faculty since 1994, and is a leading expert in water chemistry. He serves as co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, and director, Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering. Sedlak was elected to the NAE for his contributions to environmental aqueous chemistry, especially in the areas of water reuse, water contaminants, and urban water infrastructure.

Will Tarpeh, one of 28 Game Changers under 28

NBC named PhD student Will Tarpeh as one of 28 African American innovators — under age 28 — in its NBCBLK28.

NBCBLK is using the 28 days in the month of February to honor 28 of the nation's most talented innovators and game changers — all ages 28 years and younger.

From Large Scale to Small Scale

As large centralized wastewater treatment centers are taxed by long pipelines, energy costs and adding new customers, UC Berkeley researchers are looking to decentralize systems when they can and safely provide water in new ways. 

blueEnergy’s Water and Sanitation Technology for Nicaragua

The enormity of the world’s water and sanitation problems cannot be overstated. UN Water estimates that more than 3 million people die from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes each year, and nearly 10 percent of the global disease burden could be reduced through improved water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and water resource management.

How do we move past the yuck factor in potable water reuse?

Associate Director of the Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy at Berkeley Law Michael Kiparsky talks about making potable water palatable for people.

Celebrating World Toilet Day, reinventing sanitation

United Nations World Toilet Day is William Tarpeh’s main chance — a time to proselytize about all things sanitation. A doctoral student in environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, he tweets regularly about topics like toilets and international development. But on Thursday he plans to up the ante, with dozens of tweets on “sanitation, poop, urine and water.”

Fried to a Crisp: Why Some Experts Say We Must Burn the Trees to Save the Forests

The recent rains have blunted the psychological impact of California’s four-year drought, washing down the streets, perking up the landscaping, and heightening anticipation for a stormy El Nino-driven winter. We know, however, that one wet year is highly unlikely to end water shortages. What we may not fully grasp is that the damage done to the state’s forests is so far reaching that it may be permanent. How bad is it? Really, really bad. Horrendous, in fact. Sally Thompson, an assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s department of civil and environmental engineering, cites the status of the state’s iconic giant sequoias as an example.

Yoram Rubin Awarded Henry Darcy Medal

The European Geosciences Union honored Professor Rubin for his outstanding scientific contributions in water resources research.

Ashok Gadgil to Lead U.S.-China Energy and Water Consortium

The consortium will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy while mitigating climate change. Professors Sedlak and Horvath will lead 2 of the 5 topic areas.

Berkeley Lab Water Technology “Boomerangs” from Bangladesh to California

Ashok Gadgil's use of electrochemistry to remove arsenic in South Asian water is now being implemented in rural American water systems.

Ultra-low-cost solution to a big water problem

Katya Cherukumilli, an environmental engineering graduate student at UC Berkeley, won first place in the Designing Solutions for Poverty contest for her super-low-cost approach to groundwater purification in India.

Grad student helps people in Bangalore know when the next drop of water will come

UC Berkeley water graduate student Christopher Hyun spent his summer working on a research project examining how the people of Bangalore can get more reliable and timely information about when and how long they’ll get water each day. 

Sea Water to Drinking Water

Berkeley Water Center Co-Director David Sedlak talks about the practical use of, current systems using and new technologies involved in marine desalinization with Cal Alumni Association's California Magazine: Sea Quencher: Can California Assuage Its Drought Woes With the Pacific Ocean?

NSF award to CEE faculty to enhance infrastructure resilience

Professors Mark Stacey (PI), along with Samer Madanat, and Alexey Pozdnukhov (co-PIs), are investigators on one of several new projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address the nation's critical need for more resilient infrastructure and enhanced services: "Multi-scale Infrastructure Interactions with Intermittent Disruptions: Coastal Flood Protection, Transportation and Governance Networks."