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Not Quite Water Rights

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As the sun sets on this Merced County farm, water is conveyed in an unlined canal to more distant fields. State regulators increasingly are seeking to know how much water is being used throughout the state, and by whom.  (Josh Viers | UC Merced)
As the sun sets on this Merced County farm, water is conveyed in an unlined canal to more distant fields. State regulators increasingly are seeking to know how much water is being used throughout the state, and by whom. (Josh Viers | UC Merced)

California has given away rights to far more water than it actually has.

August 19, 2014
By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

California has allocated five times more surface water than the state actually has, making it hard for regulators to tell whose supplies should be cut during a drought, University of California researchers reported.

The scientists said California’s water-rights regulator, the State Water Resources Control Board, needs a systematic overhaul of policies and procedures to bridge the gaping disparity, but lacks the legislative authority and funding to do so.

Ted Grantham, who explored the state’s water-rights database as a postdoctoral researcher with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, said the time is ripe for tightening the water-use accounting.

“Given the public’s current attention on drought and California water, we now have an unprecedented opportunity for strengthening the water-rights system,” said Grantham, who conducted the analysis with UC Merced Professor Joshua Viers.

Better information might enable state regulators to better target water cutbacks in times of drought, Grantham said.

Grantham and Viers verified that water-rights allocations exceed the state’s actual surface water supply by about 300 million acre-feet, enough to fill Lake Tahoe about 2.5 times. Read the rest of this entry »

State of the Lake: High (Tech) and Dry at Tahoe

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A monitoring station at Lake Tahoe, California. The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center does testing, monitoring, and conservation on the lake. (Photo credit: Gregory Urquiaga | UC Davis)
A monitoring station at Lake Tahoe, California. The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center does testing, monitoring, and conservation on the lake. (Photo credit: Gregory Urquiaga | UC Davis)

Annual report explains how drought, climate change, and other factors are driving lake changes.

Aug. 14, 2014
By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

Lowering a white disk off a boat and into Lake Tahoe’s blue waters was once the most widely used indicator of the lake’s clarity and health. Today, the Secchi disk is still an important tool, but 46 years after the University of California, Davis, first began continuous monitoring of Lake Tahoe, an array of new technologies and computer models are helping scientists better understand what has proven to be a complex ecosystem.

These complexities are examined in “Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2014,” released today by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC Davis. The report explains how drought, climate change, and other natural and human factors are driving changes at Lake Tahoe.

The report also describes a new real-time network of about 20 monitoring stations — the first six of which are being installed this month — to explore what is causing degradation to Lake Tahoe’s nearshore environment. In collaboration with public and Read the rest of this entry »

Beer and Beyond: Fermented Foods

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Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis
Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis

Charlie Bamforth and former student co-edit a new book on fermented foods.

August 14, 2014
By Robin DeRieux
University of California, Davis

Legendary beer expert Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, is co-editor of a new book on fermented foods.

The Oxford Handbook of Food Fermentations,” edited by Charles W. Bamforth and Robert E. Ward, is just off the press. Ward, who completed his Ph.D. at UC Davis in 2005, did his master’s degree in food science with Bamforth.

Their book takes a comprehensive look at fermentation, covering food and beverages from bread to beer to brandy, from kefir to kimchee to kombucha. Read the rest of this entry »

USDA Awards $6.9M Pollinator Research Grant

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Leafcutting bee on an alfalfa flower.
An alfalfa leafcutting bee (Megachile rotundata) on an alfalfa flower. This bee is widely used for pollination by alfalfa seed growers. Photo Credit: USDA.gov | http://bit.ly/X2v19P

Multi-institution project lead by Michigan State University includes UC Davis researchers.

August 6, 2014
By  Chris J. Nicolini
University of California, Davis

The bees are buzzing about a new USDA grant for pollination research. UC Davis is one of six institutions of higher learning with scientists working on this Michigan State University-led project, which aims to develop sustainable pollination strategies for specialty crops in the United States.

The USDA wants to focus on slowing the decline of bee populations, and data from this research would help policymakers support the goals of the Obama administration’s June 20, 2014 Presidential memorandum about creating a federal strategy to promote the health of honey bees and pollinators.

This new $6.9 million grant was funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which is authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).

Led by a team from Michigan State University, this funding involves participating researchers from UC Davis, Loyola University Read the rest of this entry »

Pesticide linked to slow metabolism, obesity, and diabetes

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The study is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol. (Photo by Kim Carpenter via flickr | http://bit.ly/1shP28Z )

Researchers found that DDT exposure slowed birth metabolism, lowered cold tolerance.

July 30, 2014
By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

Exposure of pregnant mice to the pesticide DDT is linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and related conditions in female offspring later in life, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published online July 30 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

DDT was banned in the United States in the 1970s but continues to be used for malaria control in countries Read the rest of this entry »

Decoding breast milk secret reveals clues to lasting health

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By Matt Daigle - Mothering.com. Via Wikimedia Commons.
International breast-feeding logo” by Matt Daigle – Mothering.com. Via Wikimedia Commons.

What makes mother’s milk so good?

July 24, 2014
By Diane Nelson
University of California, Davis

Evidence shows that breast-feeding is good for babies, boosting immunity and protecting them from a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular disease.

How does it provide those benefits? What makes mother’s milk so good?

“Mother’s milk is the Rosetta Stone for all food,” said Professor Bruce German, director of the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute. “It’s a complete diet, shaped over 200 million years of evolution, to keep healthy babies healthy.” Read the rest of this entry »