A Big Week for Water

By Thomas Arndt

UCLA Smart Integrated Membrane System (SIMS).

UCLA Smart Integrated Membrane System (SIMS).

A number of exciting things happened recently in the world of water, including the arrival of the UCLA Smart Integrated Membrane System (SIMS) pictured above. This state-of-the-art water treatment and desalination plant was on campus on Wednesday, May 7th for its inauguration by the Dean of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. The mobile system is now touring various field sites in the San Joaquin Valley, where it will serve as a demonstration of various UCLA water technologies including its unique membrane system.

Meanwhile, speakers from UCLA and other UC campuses were participating in the UC Drought Science, Policy and Management Summit in Sacramento. During the summit, experts in water conservation and management discussed the implications of the ongoing drought in California. Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences explained that this is not a problem that can be easily fixed. “We will not be able to drought-proof California,” he said, “we will have to live with droughts.” But with the many brilliant professionals from UC campuses putting their energy and resources towards sustainable water solutions, it was easy to see that California is in good hands. As Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said, “We can’t make it rain, but we’re doing everything we can to respond to the drought.”

Back home at UCLA, the Water Team was chugging away at our stormwater policy. This has been a challenging project for us, as we are unfamiliar with stormwater capture and reuse systems and none of us have policy writing experience. But with a great deal of expert advice, research and time, we have completed the first draft of our policy. We have submitted it to our stakeholder Tracy Dudman for review, and we look forward to discussing the text with her this coming Friday.

Our policy dictates that all new buildings or major redevelopments at UCLA must include a stormwater capture and reuse system. While many new buildings on campus are already incorporating stormwater systems, such as the Teaching and Learning Center, the Engineering 6 Building, and the Tiverton Guest House, other new developments, such as the Luskin Conference Center, have failed to incorporate recapture systems. The objective of our policy is to prevent this from happening again. Water is a precious resource in semi-arid southern California, and we want to ensure that buildings at UCLA are taking full advantage of it.

Photograph courtesy of www.environment.ucla.edu