Water Management in 21st Century Los Angeles

We are performing a systems analysis, including institutions, landscapes, and engineered system components, to test the opportunities for increasing use of local water supplies in metropolitan Los Angeles. Currently, across the county, imported water supplies more than 50% of total water use. We inventoried groundwater rights in seven adjudicated basins fully within Southern Los Angeles County.  Contributing to on-going research at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability on water use and governance of surface water, groundwater, stormwater, and water recycling, in Southern California.

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.

Erik Porse and Stephanie Pincetl. IN PRESS “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.


Analyzing Energy Use Data for L.A. County

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 lead research to analyze energy use data in relation to structural characteristics of buildings, social and demographic changes, and varying climates. The research is producing both academic publications and policy-relevant knowledge, helping to inform energy efficiency policies in California. This work builds on prior experience in industry, working to analyze and synthesize program evaluation data for energy efficiency retrofits in California.

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 Planning and Water Management for Arroyos (Los Cabos, Mexico)

As an affiliate researcher through Sustainable Cities International, I work with an organization in Los Cabos, IMPLAN, to conduct analysis and modeling for urban sustainability planning and water management. I perform 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.


Metropolitan-Scale Stormwater Management

Environmental, technological, and social systems are closely linked in cities.  Cities manage urban stormwater using infiltration and conveyance strategies.  The effectiveness of each is closely related to environmental characteristics of a region, presence of existing infrastructure, available technologies, and regulatory conditions.  An integrated optimization model is presented to identify cost-effective allocations of land for urban stormwater management across several regions in a hypothetical metropolitan region.   Optimization analysis informs strategies for allocating infrastructure to infiltration and conveyance for urban areas of varying density gradients, environmental conditions, and geology.

Porse, Erik C. and Kathryn B. Mika. “Uncertainty and the Value of Recharge for Urban Stormwater Management: A simulation-optimization approach with Monte Carlo analysis”. Under Review.


Environmental Management Decision-Making and Ecological 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).

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.

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


Optimization for Integrated Water Management and 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.


Governance and Stormwater Management in Future Cities

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.


Urban Groundwater in Cities

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.


Network Analysis and Visualization of Urban Water and Energy Data

Network theory can be used to analyze connectivity and resilience within a water resources system. I am researching applications and extensions for using network theory to understand linkages in large scale water distribution networks.

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.


Upgrading Infrastructure at D-Q University (Davis, CA): Project Manager

D-Q University (DQU) is a native peoples’ learning community located near Davis, California.  The university was founded in 1970 and is located on the grounds of a former Army communications facility.  For 35 years, the school operated as a university and tribal college, but closed its doors in 2005 after losing its accreditation and campus infrastructure had deteriorated.

As part of an effort to reopen the college, EWB student and professional chapters are working with DQU to conduct planning assessments to upgrade three campus subsystems: water supply and distribution, wastewater treatment, and energy.  The project is a collaborative effort among the EWB UC Davis student chapter, the EWB Sacramento Valley Professional Chapter, DQU, and the Intertribal Council of California.  The EWB Chapters provide technical knowledge and experience to assess the infrastructure and started with basic activities such as testing drinking water quality sampled at various source points. 


Integrated Water Planning in Mexico City
I am working with collaborators to develop planning and analysis tools to understand efficient infrastructure development strategies for water supply, wastewater, and stormwater in Mexico City.  Groundwater supplies nearly seventy percent of the regional water supply in Mexico City.  Past groundwater extraction in the central city caused subsidence of up to 40 feet in some areas.  Today, while pumping in the center city has ceased, groundwater supplies come from areas surrounding Mexico City, which are themselves experiencing effects of groundwater exploitation.  Managing groundwater resources to preserve aquifer quality and quantity in the Mexico City Basin must incorporate a variety of strategies, such as promoting infiltration, altering extraction rates, managing demand, and developing wastewater treatment and reuse options.   Integrated analysis of hydrologic conditions, geology, sociological factors such as population and water demands, and new technologies all influence cost-effective future strategies for providing sustainable water supplies to Mexico City.

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.