Erik Porse, PhD

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Resilience in Engineered, Natural, and Water Systems


The term resilience emerged in ecology during the early 1970s. At the time, researchers were debating the existence of equilibrium points in ecosystems. Equillibriums were considered stable configurations of species that an ecosystem could “evolve” (or succeed) to reach. Beyond that, little change would occur. Ecology literature accepted the existence of such system-wide, globally-stable states (Lewontin 1969). In this view of […]

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The Hard Work of Sustainable Groundwater Management

Sources: Covina Citrus Industry Photographs, Covina Public Library; Wikipedia

Image Sources: Covina Citrus Industry Photographs, Covina Public Library; Wikipedia   A recent post that originally ran on the California WaterBlog from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. ……. Under California’s new groundwater law, local agencies must adopt long-term plans for sustainably managing basins subject to critical overdraft. Preparing these plans will be challenging, […]

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U.S. Urban Infrastructure: Eras and Development

D.C. Good Plan- zoomed

Infrastructure makes up critical physical and technological systems in the built environment, or the “sinews” of the city (Tarr 1984). With industrialization in Europe and North America, cities developed infrastructure that utilized new energy sources to facilitate commerce and exploit natural resources. Over several centuries, municipalities increasingly undertook central roles in financing, planning, constructing, and […]

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Managing Arroyos in Los Cabos

This entry is also posted on the Sustainable Cities International blog, which gives updates of work from SCI’s Affiliated Researchers and interns working with member cities throughout the world.  A quiet evolution is taking place in how we use and move water within cities throughout the world.  In Los Cabos, Mexico, where I am working […]

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Stormwater Management and Governance in San Francisco

An excerpt from a recently published journal article on governance of urban stormwater systems in future cities…. San Francisco provides a relevant example to understand governance changes related to future stormwater systems. The San Francisco Bay Area has a total population of over 7 million people in nine counties and is dominated by San Francisco Estuary, […]

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Urban Water and Governance


Water infrastructure is typically about pipes and bills.  Most cities have dedicated departments that manage water distribution, sewage, and stormwater systems.  Today, however, new designs for more sustainable urban development are re-considering how we deliver these services for residents.  Rather than provide and manage water through centralized services, what are the opportunities and challenges associated […]

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Understanding Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element that can leach into groundwater and surface water from rocks and minerals.  In most areas, natural levels of arsenic in water are less than 1 ppb, though some communities, particularly in the Western U.S., have recorded natural arsenic levels in water sources over 10 ppb1.  Arsenic can have both acute […]

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Phosphorus and Water Treatment

Phosphorus is an important nutrient for organisms.  Many agricultural and industrial processes also use phosphorus, which has led to increased concentrations in runoff and effluents1.  Higher phosphorus concentrations in water bodies can lead to eutrophication and algal blooms that harm aquatic species2.  The ionic form of phosphorus, phosphate (POs4-), bonds with positively-charged ions (hydrogen) and […]

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The Scoop on Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion has been used in wastewater treatment processes for decades.  Recent innovations, however, are making the technology more viable for commercial applications. Anaerobic digestion occurs when microbes degrade organic matter in the absence of oxygen gas. It can be used to treat sewage effluent, agricultural byproducts, and solid municipal wastes.  The microbes utilize oxygen […]

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Resilient Futures

The sheer power of Hurricane Sandy and the damage it inflicted upon New York City is both improbable and ominous.  Improbable because extreme climatic events are dictated by statistical probabilities of occurrence that seem impossible until they occur.  Ominous because it is likely that the familiar statistical record is changing.  In the last few days […]

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