Water and ecosystems are intricately connected everywhere. In arid regions, water scarcity limits plant growth. When rain does fall, the lack of water-absorbing soil and vegetation can result in powerful flash floods. In wet regions, plants release enormous quantities of water to the atmosphere, influencing global precipitation patterns. In cities, uptake of nearby water resources for human use and discharge of wastewater and runoff can profoundly affect local environmental quality.
Understanding complex interactions like these is key to ensuring clean, sufficient water supplies and healthy ecosystems for generations to come. The Policy Institute works with other UC Davis institutions as well as individual researchers and practitioners to characterize how natural systems are changing, and what the related environmental, human, and economic impacts are. These insights help to inform drought planning, flood management, water-quality regulations, and other water and ecosystem policies in California and beyond.