Environmental Governance and Best Practices

2015 – 2016 Academic Year Student Projects

LA River Report Card for the Council of Watershed Health 

 The team is creating a report card that evaluates the state of the Los Angeles River for the Council for Watershed Health. The goal of the report card is to create a framework to measure the health of the LA River and to help decision makers recognize areas that need improvement. Through extensive research and a field visit to the river we have drafted a report card with three main buckets of indicators: 1) healthy people, 2) healthy economy, 3) healthy ecosystems. Within each category we have selected a variety of indicators and their respective assessment thresholds that will be used for scoring. Our hope is to ultimately create a finalized, comprehensive report card as well as communication plan that navigates the unique socioeconomic and ecological conditions of the LA River and that aids in the identification of any imbalances that exist throughout the watershed.

See the presentation here:

See the report here:

Assessing the Practices and Problems in Water Uses, Rates, and Governance in California

The team continued its progress in mapping the water-pricing structures and rates across California.  They are completing an analysis of the effect water pricing has on residential consumption behavior in Southern California water districts and finalizing a GIS map that visually depicts the pricing data  collected. The goal is to model how different pricing intervals influence consumption rates.

2014 – 2015 Academic Year Student Projects

Assessing the Practices and Problems in Water Uses, Rates, and Governance in California

The team continued its progress in mapping the water-pricing structures and rates across California.  More complete information about water rates across the huge number of water districts has been secured, and the statistical analysis of the relationships between rates and water uses is proceeding.

Modeling the Economic Consequences of Take-back Vouchers for Used Cellphones and Computers, to promote higher rates of electronics recycling

The team developed a revenue-and-cost model for various scenarios of the value of vouchers that electronics manufacturers might consider offering, to determine to degree to which greater initial sales and/or customer loyalty could offset the lower revenues per unit; collected the data on the limited experiences of take-back programs for cellphones and computers; and ran preliminary Monte Carlo simulations of the results.

Research on Deepening Citizens’ Understandings of Tradeoffs of Alternative Energy Sources Fracking and its Risks

The REC team developed pre- and post-intervention surveys to determine the scope of considerations that citizens use to assess the risks and opportunities of particular energy sources, with a specific focus on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). The intervention consisted of presentations by four Claremont Colleges faculty members on various energy sources. The panel focused on whether exposure to the advantages and disadvantages of multiple sources would induce broader evaluation of fracking through the consideration of relative risks compared to other energy sources. A report was created on the analysis of the findings, and follow up may consist of focus groups to determine which of many causes for initially narrow considerations are at play.  

2013 – 2014 Academic Year Student Projects

Water pricing structures

The team examined the pricing structures that California water districts are using and constructing the distribution of increasing block and flat rate pricing systems that residential customers are facing. They selected a statistically significant sample of California water districts, called the organizations to collect pricing and consumption data, as well as other relevant information, and constructed a model that will be used to analyze the impacts of the type of pricing structure and the marginal price of water on consumption levels. Ultimately, the goal is to reveal current trends in pricing structures, uncover the drivers that cause districts to use each of these pricing structures, and analyze the subsequent implications for water use and conservation.

Groundwater Regulation

The team researched existing groundwater regulation at the state, county, and city levels and constructed a report summarizing the current governance structure in this policy area. They identified conflict areas that have arisen from governance issues through a case study evaluation of recent and ongoing groundwater litigation. Through a close examination of these conflicts, they analyzed the state’s problematic approach to groundwater management and identify specific areas for policy improvements.

Wastewater Reuse

The team provided an overview report of the current graywater governance structure in California. They interviewed various stakeholders, uncovered roadblocks that prevented increased use of graywater systems, and identified suggestions for policy changes that would enable greater wastewater reuse at the local level.