Accomplishments


2014-15 Highlights

See 2014-15 Accomplishments for a printable version

  • 326 students participated in 25 WATERS projects with 12 faculty. Participants included students in 16 courses, 12 departments, and 3 schools.  Students engaged in service-learning, independent research, senior capstone projects and student assistantships. WATERS 2014-15 Projects Summary
  • WATERS supported two events that engaged 335 students, faculty, staff and community members: 2015 SSU Science Symposium and lecture from Roger Leventhal (Marin County Flood Control Division) on natural stream channel restoration.
  • Staff from 16 organizations worked with faculty and students on WATERS projects: Sonoma County Water Agency, SSU Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU Facilities, Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, Friends of Copeland Creek, CSU Campus as a Living Lab Program, WRPI Faculty Incentive Fund, PG&E, City of Santa Rosa, City of Rohnert Park, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, UC Davis Bodega Marine Reserve, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Pepperwood Preserve, The Digital/Critical Cohort, and D’Argenzio Winery
  • WATERS collaborated with the Sustainability Executive Committee to launch the second annual "Sustainability in the Classroom" program which provided $6,000 (50% from GMC Academic Integration Funding and 50% from WATERS) to support faculty interested in incorporating sustainability and water-related service-learning projects into course curricula. Three water-related course development projects were awarded in May.
  • Faculty and staff working on WATERS projects contributed an additional $61,300 in matching funds for WATERS projects

Sediment and Erosion

Riparian Restoration                 

  • Pre- and post-restoration sampling of insects at Colgan Creek revealed that while the diversity of insect orders decreased, parasitoids and pollinators increased, creating a more even representation of ecological types (e.g., pollinators, herbivores, scavengers, etc.)  Project: Insect Biodiversity Monitoring at Riparian Restoration Sites in the City of Santa Rosa
  • Restoration activities (e.g., shoveling, raking, carrying dirt in a wheelbarrow) showed similar increases in heart rate and blood glucose depletion when compared to walking. However restoration activities showed higher levels of energy expenditure. While both walking and gardening generally showed increases in positive emotions and decrease in negative emotions, restoration/gardening was dramatically better at decreasing feelings of fatigue, being worn out, and exhaustion. Project: Copeland Creek Riparian Restoration Exercise Project  
  • SSU Preserves and SSU Facilities works each summer with the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps program to employ 5 youth at risk to remove blackberry on Copeland Creek. Project: SSU Copeland Creek Restoration Project      Twenty undergraduates were trained as land managers as part of the CEI’s Land Management Training program. Project: Center for Environmental Inquiry's Land Management Training Program

Water Quality

  • E. coli concentrations greater than the US EPA regulatory limit were found in the SSU lakes (both east and west lake) in October. Levels did not reach EPA regulatory limits in nearby Copeland Creek in either October or March despite an overflow connection between the lakes and the creek. Project: Nutrient and E. coli Levels Upstream and Downstream of the Proposed Detention and Recharge Basin
  • Species richness of macro-invertebrates in the two SSU Lakes (which overflow into Copeland Creek) are lower than Turtle Pond (also man-made) at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Species richness was startlingly low in the East Lake (only one species). Project: Assessing Invertebrate Diversity in Highly-Altered Aquatic Ecosystems This project won “Best Water Poster” at the 2015 Science Symposium.
  • Phosphorus and nitrogen exceeded the maximum allowable levels at two sites on Copeland Creek and two sites on the Laguna de Santa Rosa during 7 sampling days between August and February. Dissolved oxygen was often below accepted levels. All samples were analyzed by a certified laboratory. Project: Rohnert Park Nutrient Loading
  • As part of long-term water quality monitoring, an unexpected rise in Total Dissolved Solids on the campus section of Copeland Creek was detected. The rise was attributed to runoff from the Beaujolais Pond on the SSU campus. Project:  Copeland Creek Water Quality Monitoring Project
  • Dense mats of the water fern, Azolla sp., were observed this year in many ponds throughout the county. The overgrowth blocks sunlight and depletes oxygen. Initial measurements by a freshman student found that oxygen levels were sufficiently low to exclude fish and other forms of life. Project:  Oxygen Depletion by the Water Fern, Azolla sp.

Water Availability and Use

  • Students found a high correlation (r2 = 0.84) between rainfall at the Bodega Marine Laboratory and the Fairfield Osborn Preserve suggesting that rainfall totals at Bodega Bay can be used to warn Rohnert Park about flood conditions. Project: Predicting Extreme Rainfall at Fairfield Osborn Preserve
  • Advances in the Osborn Sensor Network in the Upper Watershed included establishment of real-time data communication and power support for the weather station (calibration, wireless connection, 1,000 W solar power). Installations provided ½ mile of wifi coverage on the preserve. Project: Automated Sensor Network for Copeland Creek Headwaters
  • An evaluation of 116 urinals and 2,304 toilets on the SSU campus found that the cost of switching from low-flow to no-flow urinals would pay for itself within two years. However, a second study which estimated that actual electrical costs to SSU (SSU pumps its own well water, rather than purchasing it) found that savings in electrical costs are half that assumed for the other analysis, doubling the time it would take for urinal replacement to pay for itself. Projects: Water Efficiency Projects on the SSU Campus
  • Philosophy students evaluated the ethics of water use. Projects: Philosophical and Ethical Values of Water Choice

2013-14 Highlights

See 2013-14 Accomplishments for more details

  • 286 students participated in 21 WATERS projects with 12 faculty. Participants included students in 14 courses, 9 departments, and 3 schools.  Students engaged in service-learning, independent research, senior capstone projects and student assistantships.  
  • WATERS supported two events that engaged approximately 250 students, faculty, staff and community members: 2014 SSU Science Symposium and lecture from the Marin Carbon Project
  • Staff from 12 organizations worked with faculty and students on WATERS projects: City of Santa Rosa, City of Rohnert Park, Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU Garden Classroom, SSU Facilities, SSU Sustainability Executive Committee, Pepperwood Preserve, Marin Carbon Project, Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps
  • WATERS collaborated with the Sustainability Executive Committee to launch the "Sustainability in the Classroom" program which provided $6,000 (50% from GMC Academic Integration Funding – PI Paul Draper) and 50% from WATERS) to support faculty interested in incorporating sustainability and water-related service-learning projects into course curricula. Three course development projects were awarded during 2013-14.
  • $63,834 in matching funds supported WATERS projects
  • PG&E donated high-density lidar covering 400 acres in the headwaters of Copeland Creek. The data are unparalleled in detail, providing lidar at 40 pts per square meter (recent county lidar coverage is at 8 pts per square meter), and creating an important resource for research on erosional processes and vegetation analysis. Data covers 411 acres of the Fairfield Osborn Preserve and was flown on April 2013.
  • WATERS supported 2 grant applications: $160,000 from EPA Pollution Prevention Grant Program for student project support; climate monitoring equipment for the upper watershed from an NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program.

Riparian Restoration    

  • A watershed management training unit was introduced into the Center for Environmental Inquiry's Land Management Internship program and included training in riparian restoration strategies and watershed management principles and skills. CEI Land Management Training Program       
  • Insect surveys at 3 City of Santa Rosa restoration sites established pre-project biodiversity baseline. Insect Biodiversity Monitoring at Riparian Restoration Sites in the City of Santa Rosa
  • People engaging in self-paced restoration activities (e.g., shoveling, raking, carrying dirt in a wheelbarrow, and placing leaves into a container) showed similar reductions in blood pressure to people walking, but they burned more calories and sustained higher heart rates. Copeland Creek Riparian Restoration Exercise Project
  • Center for Environmental Inquiry and SSU Facilities hosted the Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps to remove Himalayan blackberry on campus and the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Blackberry Control on Copeland Creek     
  • Freshmen gathered data on 4 watershed issues in the headwaters of Copeland Creek: water quality, blackberry removal techniques, drought documentation, and terrestrial invertebrate responses to moisture gradients.        

Water Quality

Water Availability and Use