Freshwater sustainability

Granite Reef Dam & Diversion on the Salt River (Courtesy of Arizona Department of Water Resources)

Humans appropriate the equivalent of nearly 76% of all surface water in the western US (Sabo et. al 2010).  Similar stories are being told in other water stressed regions in the sunbelt of the US and across the world.

One of the research themes in the lab is understanding the implications of human water stress on biodiversity in river and riparian ecosystems.  But we also go beyond this to try to understand and articulate policy solutions to water shortage (human and natural) of national and global scope  (see Sabo op-ed).



California Aqueduct (courtesy of CA Department of Water Resources)


In the national arena, the PI collaborates with national water experts in the fields of engineering, law, economics and policy to understand how to balance freshwater needs for food supply, cities and ecosystems.  This work is focussed on two systems currently:  the Cadillac Desert of the western US and more broadly on cities throughout the southern “Sunbelt” of the United States.


Freshwater fish are nearly 70% of the protein for a population of >40 Million in Cambodia (photo credit: Kirk Winemiller)



In the global arena, the PI is interested in the intersection between hydrologic variability and food security.  Along these lines he is participating in efforts sponsored by Conservation International to understand how climate change and dams on the Mekong River will impact fisheries and food security for over 40 million people who inhabit the Mekong River of Cambodia and Vietnam.