Interbasin Transfers

Winter Distinguished Lecture: Interbasin Transfers and Water Risk in the U.S.

Interbasin TransfersBy Noah Pflueger-Peters

The College of Engineering will welcome Carnegie Mellon University’s David Dzombak as its winter 2019 distinguished lecturer. Dzombak will deliver his lecture, “Interbasin Transfers and Water Risk in the United States,” at 4 p.m. on January 24 at the UC Davis Student Community Center.

Interbasin transfers (IBT) are manmade systems that transport water from one location to another, usually from an area with a surplus of water to one with a demand. Dzombak will share the results of his recent inventory of all the IBTs in the U.S., where he collected data on when and why they were built, where and how they move water and how efficiently they run.

California is home to many of the country’s IBTs, including the California Aqueduct, which transfers water to Southern California from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. With the state’s history of droughts and water shortages, California needs more ways to move water effectively, efficiently and in an environmentally-conscious way to areas of need.

Dzombak has identified these areas of need by using a Water Risk Index that measures factors such as change in water demand, the use of groundwater and the proportion of surface water supply in U.S. counties, many of which are in California. His inventory offers a chance to evaluate the country’s current IBT systems, improve them and use this data to build better systems in the future that deliver water to where it is needed most.

Dzombak received a bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon, a bachelor’s in mathematics from Saint Vincent College and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dzombak returned to Carnegie Mellon as a professor, where he is a Hamerschlag University Professor and head of the Department of Civil Environmental Engineering. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008.

The College of Engineering’s Distinguished Lecture Series is an opportunity to bring academic and industry experts to the College to interact and engage with students. The event is free, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend.


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