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The Untapped Potential for Urban Water Efficiency: Spotlight on Southern California

Sonali Abraham, Research Associate, Pacific Institute

Oct 24 2022 | 11:00am to 12:00pm PT Bren Hall 1414 / Online

Headshot of Sonali Abraham
Sonali Abraham

Dr. Abraham recently completed her doctoral degree at UCLA, where she examined opportunities for outdoor water savings to help drought-stricken Southern California. In the face of more frequent and severe droughts under a changing climate, we have an urgent need to use water resources more wisely. Dr. Abraham’s research at UCLA and at the Pacific Institute demonstrates the important role of conservation and efficiency for California’s long-term water resilience.
—Cora Kammeyer, MESM 2017, Lecturer, Bren School 

Watch a recording of this talk here


California water systems are increasingly stressed as climate change impacts intensify and become one of the most pressing issues of our time. A key solution for California that is cost-effective and requires minimal new resources is expanding water efficiency and conservation. But how much potential water savings can efficiency actually provide? Which sectors and regions are leading the change? And what changes are needed to realize this potential?

This talk will examine the potential for efficiency to create new water supplies and provide multiple other benefits. Dr. Sonali Abraham will discuss the quantified water savings available across urban California, by sector and region, by adopting efficiency improvements such as efficient devices and climate-appropriate vegetation. She will take these findings one step further and narrow in on a case study, looking at the potential for improvement in outdoor water use efficiency for the commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sector served by a water district in Southern California. Finally, she will examine policy changes needed to support and scale uptake of urban water efficiency.

Dr. Abraham recently completed her doctoral degree and will also discuss the experience (i.e., challenges!) of being in a doctoral program while also working full time.


Dr. Sonali Abraham is a Research Associate at the Pacific Institute. She conducts qualitative and quantitative research in the public and corporate sectors into urban water use trends, development of watershed-scale metrics, and the role of multi-benefit projects in water and climate resiliency.

In the past, she has worked on water treatment methods, researching disinfection byproducts produced during chlorination of drinking water. She also interned at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Sonali received a B.S. in Chemistry from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi, India; a Master’s of Science in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University; and a D.Env. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. She grew up in the Middle East and South Asia.

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