Erik Porse, PhD

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Natural Gas Use in L.A. County

CC BY-SA 2.0, File:Aliso Canyon gas leak site, Dec. 14, 2015 (23389378449).jpg, Created: 14 December 2015

The shutdown of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility has threatened the reliability of energy supplies in Southern California. Reducing natural gas demands, especially during peak periods of summer and winter use, is critically important to preserve uninterrupted electricity and natural gas services throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan region. In winter, natural gas consumption […]

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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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Groundwater Use in Urban Development


Groundwater is an important water source in urbanized areas.  Cities across many geographies and climates, including Beijing, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Bangkok, Houston, Tokyo, Perth, and Lima, have all utilized groundwater to supply much of their potable water needs at some stage of development (Howard and Gelo 2002).  Groundwater provides a significant portion […]

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Treating Water in the Home

Treating water in a home or a building may be relevant in a few situations.  First, in communities without sufficient capital to build water treatment facilities, residents are forced to drink bottled water.  This happens thorughout the world, from the farmlands of East Africa to the rural communities of California.  Second, many in the sustainability […]

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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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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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Direct Potable Water Reuse in Cities

Direct potable reuse (DPR) involves processes where “purified municipal wastewater is introduced into a water treatment plant intake or directly into the water distribution system.”1 As populations increase and treatment technologies improve, direct potable reuse may become an economically viable or even preferred option to meet growing global water demand. Water reuse takes many forms. […]

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Life in the Tails: Behavioral Economics

The question of merging individual (or organizational) decision-making with infrastructure design and management is supremely interesting, though not often engaged by the engineering community. For urban infrastructure, social systems are a key component of function. Individual decisions are influenced by personal views, interactions with peers, and larger social trends. This may not have a lot […]

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