By Jarrod Walley |Staff Writer|
Disadvantaged communities in San Bernardino will receive aid in water processes and treatment from the California State University (CSU) system and its $2.3 million program.
The State Water Resources Control Board donated the grant to the entire CSU system; it focuses on the formation of programs and implementation of grants for students and faculty so that research can be done on the communities in need.
“We use a tool called CalEnviroScreen; it’s a map, that shows us which communities are in need of assistance. Downtown San Bernardino is located in the high category on the map, so it is not just an agricultural/rural phenomenon, but an urban one as well,” said Boykin Witherspoon, Executive Director of the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI).
According to Witherspoon, the WRPI and the CSU system are working on programs right now to identify which communities are in need of the most critical help.
The State Water Resource Control Board assigns research teams communities that are in critical need; some of which are located in the Coachella Valley and Inland Desert regions.
“The WRPI has an oversight council, consisting of seven presidents from different universities, and [CSUSB] President Morales is the chair of that council,” stated Witherspoon.
In addition to being one of the 23 campus in the CSU system.
CSUSB is directly involved with the WRPI by including the members of the university, like students and faculty.
Students whose applications are accepted work as paid interns and can receive academic credit for internship-related courses.
Students then begin developing and carrying out projects with assigned mentors ranging from water treatment to irrigation and water distribution.
These projects cater to specific regions where there is considerable interest or need for improvement.
The Water Resources Institute (WRI) is an academic partnership located in the John M. Pfau library.
They are working closely with the WRPI to help local communities obtain better water related facilities.
“We collaborate with the WRI on programs because they are a historic water archive: keeping records and data,” said Witherspoon.
According to Witherspoon, there are many entities involved in the efforts of the Water Initiative.
The WRPI, a division of entire CSU system, is leading the project.
“The WRPI is an effort to bring faculty and staff together across the 23 campuses to work on regional and statewide water issues,” said Associate Director Dr. David Zoldoske of the Agricultural Science and Technology Department at Fresno State University.
“I was the first executive director—I stepped down in July of 2013—Boykin Witherspoon at CSUSB is currently the Executive Director,” said Zoldoske.
Dr. Zoldoske explained his time and service with the program since it started in July of 2008.
With the donation given, the initiative is continuing in motion and meeting goals for both communities and partners.
“I think the initiative is great and for a good cause,” said student Carly Nelson.
“I do wish they had more information available at school, maybe set up a stand or hand out pamphlets to get students more interested and active,” continued Nelson.
Students and faculty who wish to learn more about WRPI and what they can do to get involved can visit www.calstate.edu/water/ or the John M. Pfau library on campus for more information.