Cal Poly Pomona’s California Center for Land and Water Stewardship (CCLAWS) has been selected to work with disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties to assess water-related needs and develop technical proposals.
The project falls under Proposition 1, “The Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act,” that was approved by state voters in 2014.
The water bond raised $7.55 billion to address the state’s long-term water needs and meet the resilience goals of the 2014 California Water Action Plan. The California Department of Water Resources is distributing the bond monies through the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan funding to areas across the state. The largest allocation is $98 million for the Los Angeles-Ventura County area.
Ten percent, or $9.8 million, must be spent in the area through the Disadvantaged Communities Involvement Program, which was designed to ensure that the needs of disadvantaged or underrepresented communities or economically distressed areas are addressed.
Through the program, CCLAWS will work with communities to address water quality and public safety issues, including flooding, the rise of homeless people living within river and stream areas, safe pedestrian routes with recreational opportunities, and neglected transportation infrastructure that has resulted in flooding of roads. Missed opportunities to capture water from rainstorms also will be addressed.
“No Californian should be deprived of an adequate supply of clean, safe drinking water — our top priority¬ — especially those folks who are typically left out of the water resources planning process,” said Julianna Delgado, professor of urban and regional planning at the College of Environmental Design, CCLAWS co-director and principal investigator and project manager for the state contract.
“There are far-reaching public health implications related to the quantity and quality of our water resources,” Delgado added. “The folks who live and work in the communities know best what is needed and they will become our partners.”
The Cal Poly Pomona team includes Weimin Li, associate professor of landscape architecture; Ali Sharbat, assistant professor of civil engineering; and Michael Millar, director of the university’s Center for Community Engagement.
Since its inception in 2009, CCLAWS has helped disadvantaged communities through partnerships to increase access to greenways, parks and recreation opportunities, improve watershed health, and tackle water and flooding issues.
For this project, CCLAWS will work with smaller communities, match nonprofits to faculty and students for impactful partnerships, and provide technical assistance on projects.
CCLAWS is leading the L.A.-Ventura effort through the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) of the CSU Chancellor’s Office. WRPI Executive Director Boykin Witherspoon III, the former director of Cal Poly Pomona’s Center for Geographic Information Sciences Research, is responsible for developing proposals to engage student and faculty in community-based projects and research.
“CCLAWS at Cal Poly Pomona adds an exceptional set of skills and knowledge to the WRPI’s consortium of CSU partners addressing issues facing disadvantaged communities all across the state,” Witherspoon said. “The CCLAWS team was instrumental in securing the grant opportunity for the Los Angeles-Ventura County funding area.”