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Vol 57 No. 15 : July 29, 2005
Vol 57 No. 15 | July 29, 2005

MWD Awards Two GrantS to CSULB Groups

Two CSULB faculty led student teams to victory recently when the Metropolitan Water District awarded them grants of $10,000 and $9,000, respectively, to further research into water conservation.

Darwin Hall, a member of the Economics Department since 1986, and Antonella Sciortino, who joined Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management in 2004, led their students in competition with 31 other campuses at the Southern California World Water Forum held in October sponsored by the MWD. Up to $120,000 in grants for research on water conservation was offered in partnership with the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the California Department of Water Resources, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Water for People, the United Nations Foundation, Friends of the United Nations and the Family of Southern California Water Agencies.

The two teams submitted proposals in January. In June, 12 projects were selected for funding at eight colleges and universities. The winning students and faculty attended the awards ceremony and listened to presentations by Friends of the United Nations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Assemblywoman Carol Liu, State Senator Jack Scott and MWD Director Glenn Brown.

Hall’s team was awarded $9,000 for their proposal titled “Integrating Marginal Cost Water Pricing and Best Conservation Management Practices” while the team lead by Sciortino in collaboration with two colleagues, Jeremy Redman and Tariq Shehab in Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management, received $10,000 for their project titled “Conservation of Irrigation Water by Onsite Recycling.”

Hall, director of CSULB’s Environmental Science and Policy program, was pleased at his students’ recognition. “It’s really an opportunity for students to gain some real professional skills and make a real professional commitment,” he said. This project has three parts: 1) redesigning water rates to provide strong incentives to conserve water; 2) redesigning the water bill so that customers can readily understand the economic incentive and discover that there are ways to conserve water and save money; and 3) providing customers with information on water-saving appliances and landscaping that conserve water and reduce the cost of water to customers, the utility, and Southern California, while permitting the regional economy to grow.

“I feel the MWD recognized the real merit of this program, which was student-designed and is student-run,” said Hall. “This is an opportunity to help solve a real problem as well as to show a high level of innovation. There are elements of this proposal that could be used in the developing world. The impact of this proposal is not just local, but global.” 

Hall feels the award also offered a salute to CSULB’s Environmental Science and Policy program. “The students in this program are really dedicated. As co-director of ES&P, this is also a chance for me to learn from my students. It is a way for them to present a message that might otherwise be overlooked,” he said. “Plus, by participating in the MWD’s efforts to conserve water, it opens up students to potential internships and jobs.”

Sciortino, a hydraulic engineer, applauded the $10,000 award to her students as they confront one of California’s most pressing concerns, water conservation. “Our goal is to design a system that can be buried under the soil to collect irrigation water,” she explained. “Water is gathered through a drainage system toward a collection device where it can be used again for irrigation.”

Sciortino stressed the projects' relevance. “California uses a lot of water for irrigation that is not always needed,” she said. “This system was devised to save that water and it turned out to be just the kind of project the MWD was looking for.”

Most of the project’s funding will support the construction of a scale model of the system as well as a working version that will water a real lawn. “The MWD disperses the money in August and the project must be completed by January 2006. The prototype will be accompanied by a report on the complete design. Then there will be a presentation to the MWD in the spring of 2006,” she explained.

 “Working together, I hope we’ll be able to build a system that can find a wide-scale application for homeowners, parks and golf courses,” she said. 

 

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