Water Availability and Use Projects

Modular Biotreatment for Winery and Brewery Wastewater


We are testing and developing an efficient Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) treatment system that extracts and utilizes chemical energy from high-strength winery wastewater. The resulting water is of sufficent quality to make the water available for irrigation. Lessons learned will be used to inform the design of a larger pilot MFC system to be installed at D’Argenzio Winery.

  • Faculty: Michael Cohen (Biology) and Farid Farahmand (Engineering Science)
  • Partners: D’Argenzio Winery

Water Efficiency Projects on the SSU Campus


Sonoma State has implemented a variety of water saving measures and technologies on campus, including the use of reclaimed water and low flow fixtures. Environmental and financial costs and benefits of a variety of measures are evaluated.

  • Faculty: Dan Soto (Environmental Studies and Planning)
  • Partners: SSU Facilities

Kyler Connolly and Chris Dennison at weather tower

Automated Sensor Network for Copeland Creek Headwaters


The Osborn sensor network gathers data from weather stations, cameras and other sensors and transmits the information back to computers on campus. The automated weather station provides reliable real-time data on the amount of rainfall and other climate variables in the upper watershed. The data are used to better understand relationships between rainfall and flooding in the lower watershed.

  • Faculty: Farid Farahmand (Engineering Science), Daniel Soto (Environmental Studies and Planning), Chris Halle (Preserve Researcher)
  • Partners: Center for Environmental Inquiry, City of Rohnert Park

Philosophy and Ethics of Water Choice


One technology that is vital for survival but often goes unquestioned is our use of water and the philosophical, political, and social values that influence the decisions we make. We explored the ethical impacts of water use at sites in Sonoma County using a philosophical framework.

  • Faculty: John Sullins (Philosophy)

Kyler Connolly and Chris Dennison at weather tower

Predicting Extreme Rainfall in the Copeland Creek Watershed


California’s highly variable climate and growing water demands pose water-supply and flood-hazard challenges to resource managers. Mathematics students are using local data sets, including data from the weather station at SSU's Osborn Preserve and UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory to evaluate the ability of regional models to predict rainfall in our region.

  • Faculty: Martha Shott, Ben Ford, Sunil Tiware (Mathematics and Statistics), Chris Halle (Consultant)
  • Partners: City of Rohnert Park, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SCWA

Kyler Connolly and Chris Dennison at weather tower

Power Supply Needs for Off-Grid Sensor Network in the Headwaters of Copeland Creek


The Osborn Sensor Network collects and transmits data from sensors in the Copeland Creek headwatershed. Power needs for newtwork sensors (e.g., weather station, cameras, etc.) must be evaluated to determine the appropriate solar and battery requirements to ensure continuous data streaming. We evaluated the power needs (solar panels and 24V DC batteries) for an offgrid, lowpower wireless camera to be installed overlooking water sources on the Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

  • Faculty: Dan Soto (Environmental Studies and Planning)
  • Partners: Center for Environmental Inquiry
Kyler Connolly and Chris Dennison at weather tower

Geodatabase for Sharing Copeland Creek Watershed Data


We developed a geodatabase to enhance sharing of data in the Copeland Creek watershed. The Google Map product uses fusion tables to create a clickable data-discovery interface. Users can click on location icons to identify the types of data collected, when they were collected and by whom. When possible, links are provided to on-line data.

  • Faculty: Jeff Baldwin (Geography)
Sencell circuit board

SenCell: A Low-Cost Cellular-Based General-Purpose Real-Time Monitoring System for Rural Areas


We created a low-cost, solar-powered, general-purpose remote monitoring system with unique features such as open-source software and in-field configurability.The unit can collect and transmit data from sensors in any location where cell-reception is available. The flexible and modular SenCell architecture allows it to be used for diverse applications, including flood and fire detection, and real-time water quality and air pollution monitoring.

  • Faculty/Staff: Farid Farahmand, Jack Ou and Shahram Marivani (Engineering Science)
  • Partners: Steve Norwick Memorial Fund, CSU Campus as a Living Lab

Low-Cost Irrigation Control Sensors (Smarden Project)


We designed a low-cost autonomous garden sensor that can monitor environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, sunlight, and soil moisture) and respond by turning irrigation systems on or off. The system has potential to conserve water use by home gardeners, farmers, or wine growers.

  • Faculty: Farid Farahmand (Engineering Science)
  • Partners: CSU Campus as a Living Lab Grant Program, Steve Norwick Memorial Fund

Development of an Ultrasonic Sensor to Monitor Water Use


Monitoring water levels in a tank has always required a physical object of measurement to be submerged and often requires visiting the tank to check levels. We developed a low-cost ultrasonic depth sensor that accurately measures the depth of fluids (water, cooking oil, motor oil) up to four meters and displays the values on a monitor. 

  • Faculty: Farid Farahmand (Engineering Science)
  • Partners: Santa Rosa Junior College, Steve Norwick Memorial Fund, Campus as a Living Lab Grant Program
evapotranspiration diagram

Copeland Creek Watershed Evapotranspiration Project


Evapotranspiration is an important but variable part of the water cycle. To better understand water cycle dynamics in the Copeland Creek watershed, a student research team constructed and installed a sensor network to continuously monitor environmental conditions and tree water loss in the headwaters at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve.

  • Faculty: Tom Buckley (Biology)