CSUN Institute for Sustainability
Issue No. 28     |    February 20, 2017
Rain May Not Mean an End to California's Water Woes
CA droughtFor the last four years, California has been experiencing extreme drought conditions, the worst our state has seen in the past millennium. With all of the rain the state has recently received, it may seem that our water worries are over, but Dr. Amalie Orme, CSUN Geomorphology Professor, says that is not necessarily the case.

It is true that many of the reservoirs in the northern portion of the state have been replenished by above average rainfall. Lake Oroville, which is part of the State Water Project, is at 96% of total capacity and is releasing water to create more storage. The volume of water at this time is so great that the emergency spillway is projected to handle the excess runoff. However, reservoirs in southern California haven't fared as well. Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara, for example, is at 15% of its capacity. The Sierra snowpack, a key water source for California, is also extremely high this year.  The state relies on runoff from these mountains to provide water throughout the year, but an early spring melt could mean that this water will be lost before we are able to reap the benefits.

The rain has helped bring water to California, but there are other factors at play as well. A drought is characterized as prolonged shortages in water supply, which can be atmospheric, surface water, or ground water. Dr. Orme explains that even with reservoirs filling during the past two months, surface water is only one piece of the puzzle. The state remains in a drought because our groundwater supply has not been replenished adequately and is only around 37% of normal levels. Groundwater can take many years to replenish. Additionally, if water has been withdrawn from the subsurface, the aquifer system will compact, causing the land to sink and leading to permanent loss of groundwater storage. Dr. Orme stated, "Once you destroy an aquifer, you can't bring it back." One example of this can been seen in the San Joaquin Valley which has experienced severe groundwater depletion for decades, and with the recent drought, increased wells withdrawing water has intensified the compaction of the aquifer. Residents now rely on bottled drinking water because their wells are depleted and surface water is designated for crops.

Dr. Orme recommends continuing to adhere to water restrictions and to "carry on as if water restrictions are here for a long time." The rain and stored surface water may bring temporary relief, but these are not long term solutions. California's population continues to increase and we must be diligent in our efforts to conserve our natural resources in order to provide for the future. 
Join Us for Water Day on March 14
Water DayThe Institute is hosting our annual Water Day event on March 14th in the University Student Union, Northridge Center. This year's event will be made up of 3 unique sessions:

In the first session (9:30 - 10:45 am), we will be screening a new documentary film titled A Plastic Ocean. The film follows a world record holding free diver and a filmmaker on a 4 year expedition around the earth to discover the shocking impact plastic is having on our oceans and the marine animals that live there. The film also gives many solutions on what can be done to make positive changes.
From 11:00 am - 12:15 pm, Michael Quill, the Marine Programs Director from Los Angeles Waterkeeper (LAW), will discuss the ways in which we can connect with our oceans and waterways by volunteering with LAW. LAW’s various volunteer teams fuel interconnected projects and are the back bone to LAW’s Marine Protected Areas, Watch Boat Based Survey Program, Watershed Programs and Dive Program. 
The final session, from 12:30 - 1:45 pm, will host 2 speakers. Cheyenne Phoenix (Diné/Northern Paiute) and George Funmaker (Ho-Chunk/Dakota), Co-Founders of Red Earth Defense, will give a presentation titled “Protect the Sacred,” in which they will discuss the impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other environmental injustices their organization is helping to fight. 

This is the 8th year CSUN has hosted a campus Water Day event to celebrate World Water Day, which falls on March 22nd. World Water Day is designed to bring awareness to the over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to safe water by 2030.
Faculty Spotlight: Mechelle Best
Mechelle BestDr. Mechelle Best is the Department Chair for Recreation and Tourism Management (RTM) at CSUN. She has a PhD in Tourism with a focus on sustainability from the University of Florida as a Fulbright-Organization of Eastern Caribbean States ecology scholar. She is currently a transition team member for the Institute for Sustainability while a search for a new director is underway. Her role on the transition team is to oversee sustainability related curriculum. 

Dr. Best is very experienced in teaching sustainability. She has taught two of the core sustainability classes, SUST 300 and 310, and in the RTM department, Sustainable Tourism, Cultural-Heritage Tourism, Tourism Planning and Alternative Tourism.

Mechelle has played an instrumental role in progressing sustainability efforts on campus. She is one of the founding faculty members of the Institute and she helped develop the Sustainability minor, including the three core courses. She is currently the chair of the Sustainability Minor Committee. Dr. Best also co-authored a section of the Campus Sustainability Plan, serves on various working groups and spearheaded the implementation of the Sustainable Office Program.
Dr. Best enjoys teaching sustainability and "seeing how many students are transformed by our classes." She believes that climate change is the single biggest threat to the earth and that her responsibility as an educator and a human being is to work towards reducing this threat and to help others to do the same. Dr. Best hopes that sustainability curriculum can continue to be taught to younger generations. She thinks practicing sustainability should be more of an innate response and something that comes naturally to us, "it shouldn’t be something that we have to learn about as adults."  
VPAC Celebrates Earth's Resources 

Global currentsOn Saturday, February 25th, The Valley Performing Arts Center is hosting a special all-day event celebrating world cultures and the earth's shared resources, especially water. The event, titled Global Currents, will run from 1:00 – 6:00 pm on the VPAC lawn and is free to the public. It will feature six Los Angeles ensembles representing six different regions of the world: Brazil, West Africa, Hawaii, Mexico, Japan and the Middle East. There will also be a special appearance by The Nile Project artists, and a grand finale in which a master musician from each LA ensemble will join The Nile Project onstage for a celebration of conservation and cooperation.  

In addition to the free outdoor performances, VPAC will also open its doors for family activities in the lobby including water-themed visual arts workshops, an African drumming workshop and a Brazilian dance workshop. Outside the venue, food trucks will line the street with a diverse selection of global cuisines. The Institute for Sustainability, will also be present to distribute information and provide tours of sustainable initiatives around campus.

The day culminates with a ticketed performance from The Nile Project, that brings together artists from the 11 countries surrounding the Nile River. The Nile Project artists compose new songs that combine the rich diversity of one of the oldest places on Earth, share a message of cultural unity and global sustainability, and are performed in more than ten languages. This performance will be held in the VPAC Great Hall at 7:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased here.

Thor Steingraber, VPAC’s Executive Director said, “This event will be an inspirational mix of art and global stewardship as well as a celebration of water, and a way for performing artists to address sustainability.” Steingraber continued, “Sustainability is a top priority at CSUN and the University has taken action to ensure we are doing our part to conserve our natural resources... Traditional arts have always been attuned to the environment and natural resources, so it makes sense that VPAC do its part in bringing music and dance to the foreground of the sustainability efforts to CSUN.” 

The Nile Project will also be at CSUN prior to their public performance doing outreach with students as well as matinees for K-12 students. They will have another free performance in the USU at 12:15 on Thursday, February 23rd, followed by a panel discussion with geography and sustainability classes.

CSU Chico Annual Sustainability Conference

Chico ConferenceCalifornia State University, Chico is hosting their 12th annual This Way to Sustainability Conference on March 23rd and 24th. This year's theme is Re-Envisioning the Future: Our Path Forward, and will cover topics such as Water Resources, Climate Impacts on Food & Agriculture, Educating for Resilience, Student Engagement and many more.

This annual conference focuses on factors that allow communities and individuals to prepare for a dynamic future, one with uncertain, but generally increasing, socio-ecological stresses.
The conference is FREE for students! On-line registration closes March 10th.

NWF Virtual EcoCareer Conference

February 22nd   
10 AM - 5:30 PM ET -and- 
February 23rd   12 - 3 PM ET

The best jobs for the 21st century are in the green economy, and the National Wildlife Federation's EcoLeaders program is positioned to prepare the future sustainability workforce in collaboration with colleges and universities across the U.S. This virtual conference is designed to help! 

The conference will discuss: finding well paid jobs in the green economy, developing effective career plans, identifying top degree programs and project learning credentials, interacting with others across fields interested in leading for a green economy.  Register here.

Pacoima Beautiful

Clean Energy Art Exhibit

February 23 - 25
Pacoima City Hall,
Cultural Room

Pacoima Beautiful is hosting a Clean Energy themed pop-up art exhibit to spread awareness around environmental injustices, community grassroots mobilizing, and clean energy solutions. There will be multiple mediums showcased including paintings, collages, poetry, photography, sculptures, mixed media and more.

The exhibit will be open for everyone to enjoy works of art that highlight sources of clean and renewable energy such as the sun, wind and water. The pop-up exhibit will culminate with a performance by Aztlan Underground and a Gallery Meet and Greet where artists will be available for questions and conversations.

Chico Conference

Rhino Poaching Fundraiser

Saturday, March 11th, 4 - 8 PM
Pacific Plate Brewery
Glendale, CA

Global Conservation Force (GCF) is hosting a fundraiser to bring awareness to the rhino poaching crisis and raise funds to sponsor more conservation efforts for this cause. Mike Veale, Founder and President of GCF, will open the event by explaining the multi-focal approach his organization is taking to combat poaching and extinction. Dr. Will Fowlds will also speak about rehabilitating rhinos that have survived poaching and what day-to-day life is like as an Anti Poaching Ranger.

All funds raised go toward on the ground efforts to save wild rhinos! More information.
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