California's inland water resources are under pressure. These resources include the water supply for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses and the growing system of aqueducts and reservoirs in which this supply is transported and stored. They also include the rivers, lakes, and wetlands important as habitat for wildlife, as maintainers of environmental health, and as recreation areas for our growing population. Increasingly serious economic, environmental, and political problems concerning these water supplies and aquatic ecosystems have stimulated San Diego State University to create a Center for Inland Waters. Members of the Center come from, at present, four SDSU Colleges. They include specialists in economics, geographic information systems, remote sensing, environmental engineering, hydrology, water resources, geochemistry, animal physiology, limnology, fisheries biology, ecotoxicology, and other disciplines.
The Center hopes to foster interdisciplinary research among scientists and other scholars and the application of their collective expertise to the solution of water-related problems in southern California and adjoining regions. A major regional focus for the Center will be the Salton Sea, the lower Colorado River, and the Coachella, Imperial and Mexicali valleys. A major topical focus for the Center will be issues of water supply, water use, and water law and policy in the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico.
The Salton Sea is California's largest lake. Having no outflow and having received salt- and nutrient-rich agricultural wastewaters for nine decades, it is in an unhealthy condition and the scene of increasingly frequent and massive fish and bird dieoffs.The waters of the Colorado river, the major water supply for most of the region, are oversubscribed. In most years they are fully utilized and the river has no flow into the Sea of Cortez. This reality is colliding with that of the continued high population growth rate of this region. The national and international political, economic, social and environmental consequences of this collision are large and will become larger. The Center will foster analysis of these hard issues and provide a forum for bringing together different interests to discuss them.
Other areas of interest to the Center include groundwater hydrology, overdrafts and contamination, water-borne diseases, agricultural water use practices, freshwater aquaculture, water quality in drinking water reservoirs, restoration and protection of wildlife habitat along the Colorado River and in its delta, and in the rivers and watersheds of coastal southern California, and collaborative projects with Mexican scientists, professionals and institutions in all these areas.
The Center will contribute to undergraduate and graduate education at SDSU by helping coordinate courses and curricula that deal with water-related issues, by stimulating the development of new courses (e.g. in water analysis and advanced limnological and oceanographic field instrumentation), by developing improved analytical facilities for instruction and research, by maintaining a website on regional water resources and their problems, and by developing with California State Parks a joint visitor center/research laboratory at the Salton Sea that can be used for thesis research, independent study projects, and class field trips, as well as for the Center's research programs.