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West Hub Partners with CA State Water Resources Control Board for Our Water Data Future

Published October 20, 2023

Greg Gearhart, a deputy director for the SWRCB, welcomed participants to the Our Water Data Future event that was recently held at Scripps Seaside Forum at UC San Diego.

By Rajan Tavathia and Kimberly Mann Bruch, SDSC Communications

The West Big Data Hub led by San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, UC Berkeley and University of Washington hosted the recent Our Water Data Future conference at the Scripps Seaside Forum. More than 60 attendees participated in discussions about how data science and related applications can be used in water resource fields. The event also featured results from the California Water Data Challenge, a competition promoting the use of open water data to foster innovation and more informed decision-making. 

Christine Kirkpatrick, West Hub principal investigator and SDSC’s Research Data Services director, introduced conference attendees to the supercomputer center and the connection between water resources and computing. “Our latest supercomputers run so hot that they must be liquid-cooled. While we have increased electricity efficiency, we have become more reliant on water for all aspects of cooling equipment and our data center,” Kirkpatrick said. “Data centers around the world are using large amounts of municipal water supplies. We must work and innovate together to ensure computation can support research and inquiry without contributing to resource scarcity.”

Several San Diego County high school students who participated in SDSC’s Research Experience for High School Students program showcased their summer research posters on water data and discussed their topics with conference attendees. “This is the type of real-world experience that we try to give our summer students,” said Ange Mason, SDSC’s education manager. “We were very pleased that our students were able to participate in this conference and gain such valuable experience.”

Experiential water data learning opportunities for students was one of the topics discussed at the event. Additionally, Understanding the Transboundary Groundwater Research Community via Network Analysis was showcased by SDSC Spatial Information Systems Laboratory Director Ilya Zaslavsky and New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute Associate Research Scientist Christine Tang.

California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Engineer Hung Bui and UC Berkeley undergraduate student Andy Chen introduced RegBot, a language-oriented AI application aimed at presenting California’s state-level water regulations in a user-friendly format. 

The California Water Data Challenge presentations included:

  • UWDtap: Integrating California Urban Water Data (FlowWest’s Ashley Vizek, senior data scientist, and Erin Cainand Liz Stebbins, data scientists)
  • Next Generation Cloud & Mobile Water Conservation Analytics and Compliance Management Platform (Amit Sharma, founder and CEO, AQUATRAX)
  • One4All: A Multimodal Open Source Data Tool for Microplastics in Drinking Water (Hannah Sherrod, data scientist; Shelly Moore, executive director; and Win Cowger, research scientist, all from Moore Institute for Plastic Pollution Research)
  • A Programmatic Approach to Regulatory Compliance Data and Logic (Vapyr Analytics’ Jae Hong, principal software developer, and Sarmad Moalem, product manager and data scientist)

“We were honored to host a diverse group of innovators across the field at this conference,” said Ashley Atkins, executive director for the West Big Data Innovation Hub. “The event provided an opportunity for community-building in the space in support of advancements in data-intensive water solutions and strategies throughout the West and across the country.”

Additional talks at the conference focused on Water Data Perspectives related to water data work and research both nationally and in California.

Closing remarks were given by E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Board. “Our decision-making at the board hinges on informed public input and trust in our process, and the availability of open water data hugely contributes to both,” Esquivel said. “Events like this one not only provide future water workforces with valuable skills and exposure, but they empower people to fully engage with us and ensure that transparency, equity and public participation form the foundation for all of our work.”