Research

Recent Projects

Artes. Principal architect of the Artes model, which simulates and optimizes local water supplies in LA for 9 million people, considering ecological, social, engineering, and economic factors.

The LA Water Hub. Led the development of a dynamic mapping and visualization site for a multi-year research project on water resources management in Los Angeles.

The LA Solar Prioritization Tool. Project manager and lead analyst for development of a prioritization tool for optimizing placement of distributed solar resources in LA County considering consumption, potential on-site generation, and grid constraints in 1.6 million properties.

Evaluating the Effects of Turf Replacement Programs in Los Angeles. Led the drafting of the final report of findings from a multidisciplinary research project to examine the effects of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s 2014 turf replacement program during the California drought.

Research Themes
Urban Water Management
We developed a model (Artes) to support systems analysis the Los Angeles County water management network, including water supply, stormwater, water treatment and reuse, and governance, which tested the opportunities for local water supplies in metropolitan LA. Currently, across LA County, imported water supplies more than 50% of total water use. We collected data on the groundwater, water supply, stormwater, and recycled water systems to develop an integrated model of water management in LA. Through the research, we examined the potential for current and future systems to become locally reliant, the role of groundwater exchange pools to improve reliability, the use of open-data and modeling, and the economic implications of local water supplies.

To communicate results, we also developed the LA Water Hub, which describes the analysis and maps operational data for water supply management across LA County and its water agencies.

Porse, Erik, Kathryn B. Mika, Elizaveta Litvak, Kimberly F. Manago, Kartiki Naik, Madelyn Glickfeld, Terri S. Hogue, Mark Gold, Diane E. Pataki, and Stephanie Pincetl. “Systems Analysis and Optimization of Local Water Supplies in Los Angeles.” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 143, no. 9 (2017): 04017049.

Pincetl, Stephanie, Erik C. Porse, and Deborah Cheng. (2016). “Fragmented Flows: Water Supply in Los Angeles County”. Environmental Management. 58(2). Pg. 208-222

Porse, Erik C., Madelyn Glickfeld, Keith Mertan, and Stephanie Pincetl. (2015) “Pumping for the Masses: Evolution of Groundwater Management in Metropolitan Los Angeles.” Geojournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-015-9664-0.

Stephanie Pincetl and Erik Porse. 2017. “The Co-Evolution of Infrastructure, Governance, and Urban Ecology.” In Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools (2nd Ed). Editor: Steven Moore. Routledge.

Stephanie Pincetl, Madelyn Glickfeld, Deborah Cheng, Miriam Cope, Kartiki Naik, and Erik Porse, Kristen Holdworth, and Celine Kuklowski (2015). Water Management in Los Angeles County; a Research Report. Presented to the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Porse, Erik C. (2013). Assessing Infrastructure Decisions to Manage Water Resources in the Valle de México. Conference Proceedings: World Wide Workshop for Young Environmental Scientists (WWW-YES). Arcueil, Paris, France: École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.


Stormwater Management

Urban stormwater infrastructure traditionally promoted conveyance.  In the coming era of stormwater management, however, new technologies and governance structures are increasingly important.  Cities are increasingly designing stormwater infrastructure that integrates both conveyance and infiltration in hybrid systems to achieve public health, safety, environmental, and social goals. In addition, cities face decisions about distribution of responsibilities for stormwater management and maintenance between institutions and landowners. Hybrid governance structures combine centralized and distributed management to facilitate planning, operations, funding, and maintenance. Effective governance in any management approach will require changes in the expertise of stormwater agencies. Recognizing the distinction between hybrid infrastructure and hybrid governance is important in long-term planning decisions for construction and management of stormwater systems.

The presented framework relates the level and type of existing stormwater infrastructure with available capital, institutional development, and predominant citizen contributions. Cities with extensive existing infrastructure are increasingly integrating distributed, “green” approaches that promote infiltration, and must improve institutional expertise for governance decisions. For cities with little existing infrastructure, landowner management often dominates, especially when municipalities cannot keep pace with rapid growth. In between, rapidly industrializing cities are positioned to use growing capital resources to fund both conveyance and infiltration measures based on current design principles. For all cities, local management innovations, including decisions regarding public engagement, will be critical in shaping future urban stormwater systems.

Porse, Erik C. (2013). Stormwater Governance in Future Cities. Water. Volume 5, Issue 1. March 2013. Pg. 29-52.


Renewable Energy
The California Center for Sustainable Communities hosts the L.A. Energy Atlas, an online platform for downloading and visualizing energy use data across L.A. County. I led research to analyze energy use data in relation to structural characteristics of buildings, social and demographic changes, and varying climates. The research has charted new paths for data-driven analysis of energy systems management and helped inform energy efficiency policies in California. In addition, as part of a project to develop an Advanced Energy Community in Los Angeles County, we created an online tool for prioritizing the location of distributed solar energy resources in LA considering on-site consumption and electricity grid constraints.

Derenski, Joshua. Erik C. Porse, Hannah Gustafson, Dan Cheng, and Stephanie Pincetl. “Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Aggregated Energy Use Data in Los Angeles Schools.” (2018). Energy Efficiency.

Porse, Erik C., Joshua Derenski, Hannah Gustafson, Zoe Elizabeth, and Stephanie Pincetl. (2016). “Structural, Geographic, and Social Factors in Building Energy Use: Analysis of Aggregated, Account-Level Consumption Data in a Megacity”. Energy Policy. Vol. 96. September 2016. Pg. 179-192.

Mark Berman, Jeremy Springer, Pepper Smith, and Erik Porse. Expert Meeting Report: Energy Savings You Can Bank On. Alliance for Residential Building Innovation. February 2013.

Berman, M.; Smith, P.; Porse, E. (2012). Strategy Guideline: Mitigation of Retrofit Risk Factors. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 29 pp.; NREL Report No. SR-5500-56669; DOE/GO-102012-3811.


Urban Flood Planning

As an affiliate researcher through Sustainable Cities International, I worked with an organization in Los Cabos, IMPLAN, to conduct analysis and modeling for urban sustainability planning and water management. I conducted modeling and analysis to support planning frameworks for urban development in a landscape crossed by regional arroyos, which are seasonally-flooded riverbeds.

Porse, Erik C. (2014). Risk-Based Zoning in Urbanizing Floodplains. Water Science and Technology. Volume 70, Issue 11. (Special Issue on Urban Water Management). Pg. 1755-1763.

Porse, Erik C. (2013). Managing Arroyos in Los Cabos: Analysis of integrated strategies for sustainable water management and development in Baja California, Sur. Sustainable Cities International.


Environmental Decision-Making

Data-driven analysis and models can help inform environmental decision-making for the 21st Century. Managing resources, in cities and far beyond their borders, requires understanding the many needs that humans place on surrounding ecosystems and the potential adverse affects. Through work in transboundary water management and urban water management, I have developed with collaborators models that inform policy and decision-making processes. The primary goal is to answer the challenging “big picture” questions.

Farzan, Shahla, Derek Young, Allison Dedrick, Gabriel Sampson, Matt Hamilton, Erik Porse, and Peter Coates. (2015) “Western Juniper Management: Assessing policies for improving sage-grouse habitat and rangeland productivity.” Environmental Management. 56: 675-683.

Stephanie Pincetl and Erik Porse. 2017. “The Co-Evolution of Infrastructure, Governance, and Urban Ecology.” In Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools (2nd Ed). Editor: Steven Moore. Routledge.

Porse, Erik C., Samuel Sandoval Solis, Belize Lane. (2015). Optimization of Flood Management and Environmental Flows in a Trans-boundary, Water-Scarce River Basin: Rio Grande/Bravo. Water Resources Management. February 2015


Network Theory and Resilience

Resilience is a broad term used to describe systems management across engineering, natural resources, public policy, and risk management.  From its roots in physics and ecology literature, the concept has expanded to describe a wide set of heuristics that imply varying theoretical, practical, and policy management approaches across fields.  Ecological resilience emphasizes system persistence and the role of connectivity between species in an ecosystem, acknowledging uncertainty and the potential for system reorganization.

Engineering resilience emphasizes stability of performance as measured by minimizing deviations from desired outcomes.  Ecology literature places connectivity within ecosystem components at the core of resilience, which is also central to many technology management challenges.  Network theory metrics measure connectivity in many human and engineered systems and provide an opportunity to integrate notions of ecological resilience into technical analysis of water distribution networks (WDNs).

Resilient management of environmental resources also requires cross-disciplinary modeling that can assess across multiple objectives. In the Modoc Plateau, environmental and agricultural groups all view the encroachment of juniper trees as a management challenge. As part of work with ecologists and economists at UC Davis, we developed a multi-objective optimization framework to identify areas for treating juniper that balanced benefits to farmers and threatened Sage Steppe species.

Porse, Erik C., and Jay Lund. (2015) “Network Analysis and Visualizations in California Water: Linking connectivity and resilience.” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management. 04015401.

Porse, Erik C., and Jay Lund (2015). Network Structure, Complexity and Adaptation in Water Resource Systems. Invited submission to Civil Engineering and Environment Systems special issue on Resilience. 32(1-2).


Environmental Flows

The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo (RGB) designates the border between the U.S. and Mexico for over 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles).  The Big Bend region is a prominent area of designated nature preserves that spans territory in both the U.S. and Mexico with clear indicators of ecological degradation.  Due to factors of climate, location, population, and water demands across agricultural, municipal and industrial sectors, the RGB basin is one of the most water-stressed regions in the world.  Extended droughts and projected climate change impacts  combine with over-allocation of water rights, inefficient irrigation, and international agreements to make water management in the basin technically complex and politically challenging.  I am working with collaborators (Professor Sam Sandoval Solis, UC Davis) to develop integrated hydrologic and optimization model to incorporate environmental flow requirements into multi-objective management of a transboundary river basin.  Modeling can optimize reservoir operations to increase environmental flows in the Big Bend region while meeting water demand and international treaty constraints.

Porse, Erik C., Samuel Sandoval Solis, Belize Lane. (2015). Optimization of Flood Management and Environmental Flows in a Trans-boundary, Water-Scarce River Basin: Rio Grande/Bravo. Water Resources Management. February 2015

Lane, Belize.A., Samuel Sandoval-Solis, and Erik Porse  (2014). “Environmental Flows in a Human-Dominated System: Evaluating Integrated Water Management Strategies in the Big Bend Reach of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin.” River Research and Applications.


Urban Groundwater Management

Cities use groundwater as a clean, cost-effective source of water supply.  Many regions utilize nearby aquifers heavily during early expansion, which help them to grow wealth and improve health conditions.  Continued economic expansion increases potential for overuse of “common” resources.  Industrialization in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century often fueled heavy groundwater pumping as industrial users exploited cheap and accessible water to support expansion.  Problems from groundwater overdraft such as subsidence, rising pumping costs, contamination, and resource depletion spurred cities to seek alternative water sources and develop governance structures to regulate groundwater pumping.  Across many cities, a pattern emerges of early exploitation, followed by acquisition of alternative sources, conservation, and more effective management.  Groundwater use and urbanization are shown to be related through progressive eras of development, each with distinct characteristics of infrastructure, environmental quality, and institutions.  Arid and coastal industrialized cities are demonstrating a new era for groundwater management: conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources through advanced treatment, recycling, managed infiltration, and groundwater banking.  I am conducting research to develop frameworks for understanding the role of groundwater in urban development.

Porse, Erik C., Madelyn Glickfeld, Keith Mertan, and Stephanie Pincetl. (2015) “Pumping for the Masses: Evolution of Groundwater Management in Metropolitan Los Angeles.” Geojournal. DOI: 10.1007/s10708-015-9664-0.


Reference Library

The 21st century calls for new ways to manage and share references. Zotero, developed by a highly innovative group at George Mason University, provides a great tool for this task. Here is a link an ever-growing Zotero library.