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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Exploring Advanced Treatment Options for California Water Security

Metal water pitcher tipped over to water green plants and grass below.

Group Members: Savana Gonzales, Renee LaManna , Thomas Lenihan, Trevor Maggart, Matthew (Matt) McCafferty, Taylor Medina

Faculty Advisors: Arturo Keller

Client: State Water Resources Control Board


Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


California faces a host of challenges that could threaten the state’s future water supply. As climate change and escalating water demand continue to place an intense strain on California’s available resources, the need for rapid deployment of supply and demand-side solutions is increasingly evident. Periods of extended drought, increased surface water evaporation due to rising temperatures, and worsening groundwater depletion endanger an affordable, safe, and secure water supply for California communities. This project explores the feasibility of three water recycling technologies–Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR), Direct Potable Reuse (DPR), and desalination of groundwater and seawater–to augment the supply of urban water districts in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Oxnard. Using publicly available data from industry, state agencies, and water districts, we created a model to evaluate the capital costs, operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, and energy requirements of each technology. Model results suggest that IPR best meets the water security needs of all three study sites, with lower energy requirements and capital and O&M costs than the other technologies. Additionally, we conducted a preliminary environmental justice analysis using environmental and socioeconomic data from CalEnviroScreen to explore concerns associated with our case study water districts. Vulnerable populations were identified within each city, highlighting the need for further integration of social and health indicators into future planning efforts. When applied to other districts, this model will be a useful tool for California water managers seeking a baseline understanding of the costs of implementing novel water recycling technologies.


Bren School: Tamma Carleton, Professor; Roland Geyer, Professor; Arturo Keller, Distinguished Professor; Casey O’Hara, PhD Student; Robert Wilkinson, Adjunct Professor

Jing-Tying Chao, Staff, State Water Resource Control Board

Gaylen Fair, Water Quality Superintendent, City of Santa Barbara

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