Finding answers to the world’s pressing water supply and access challenges requires crossing disciplines and exploring a wide range of approaches. Stanford researchers are working together on sustainable solutions ranging from a low-cost water pump chlorinator to a high-tech, multi-million-dollar wastewater resource recovery center. They also are looking at water supply issues from a law and public policy standpoint, providing guidance to decision-makers through knowledge-based tools such as an interactive website illustrating California’s major groundwater challenges and potential solutions. To advance these and other innovative freshwater solutions, Woods supports the Global Freshwater Initiative, which develops strategies to promote the long-term viability of freshwater supplies; the Water, Health & Development Program, which identifies ways to improve and increase the sustainability of water supply and sanitation service delivery; and the Water in the West Program, which addresses multiple dimensions of realistic, integrated solutions to the American West’s water challenges. Read on for examples of work Woods-affiliated researchers are doing to ensure adequate supply and access to safe water for billions of people.


Funding water projects in times of financial uncertainty

Researchers with Stanford’s Water in the West Program set out a blueprint – including a small per-usage fee – for overhauling the way California funds water infrastructure and innovation projects and for overcoming fiscal restrictions. Read more.

Pricing water to encourage conservation

Working with the Water in the West Program, Woods-affiliated economics professor Frank Wolak developed a model of customer-level demand that can be used to design tiered water rate schedules that meet conservation and utility revenue objectives. Read more.

California drought

Water in the West has convened two expert panel discussions on causes, policy implications and possible responses to California’s historic drought. Read more or get video from the 2014 and 2015 events.

Groundwater management

Water in the West researchers produced a comprehensive multimedia series about California’s diminishing supply of groundwater, and began work on a website that will allow water managers, policymakers and other stakeholders to compare Western states’ groundwater laws and policies. The program produced numerous workshops, dialogues and reports on the issue in 2014-15, including reports on groundwater and land use planning, preventing and resolving groundwater conflicts, and opportunities for implementing California’s landmark groundwater legislation. Read more.

Policy innovations

A Stanford-led report, presented at a widely attended campus forum with California Gov. Jerry Brown, pointed the way to technological innovation in the water sector. The paper recommends revising pricing policies, regulatory frameworks and financing. Read more.

Water security

Researchers with the Global Freshwater Initiative began fieldwork for the Jordan Water Project, an international, interdisciplinary effort aimed at developing new approaches for enhancing the sustainability of freshwater resources in Jordan and other arid regions. Read more.

Urban supply

A study of urban water supply vulnerability co-authored by Woods Senior Fellow Steven Gorelick (Environmental Earth System Science), was recognized as the "Best Paper of 2014" by the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters. Read more.

On Camera

Water in the West hosts California Drought Panel

What does a fourth year of drought mean for California? Stanford experts discuss potential solutions to withstand prolonged periods of drought.

Mapping Saltwater Threat to Aquifers

A team led by Woods Senior Fellow Rosemary Knight (Geophysics) performed an ambitious experiment to determine the extent of ocean saltwater intrusion into underground freshwater along the California coast.

In The News

In Epic Drought, California's Water Cops Get Tough At Last

Woods Co-Director and Senior Fellow Buzz Thompson and Leon Szeptycki, Woods professor of the practice and executive director of the Water in the...
June 16, 2015 - By Nick Stockton, Wired

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'New Normal’: Scientists Predict Less Rain From Here on Out

The SF Chronicle goes behind the scenes with Senior Fellow Noah Diffenbaugh (Environmental Earth System Science) and his eclectic climate team at...
April 20, 2015 - By Kevin Fagan, SF Chronicle

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To Fix Water Crisis, Brazil Turns to Big Projects

Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy at Water in the West, states that massive infrastructure solutions should be a last resort.
April 6, 2015 - By Reed Johnson and Rogerio Jelmayer, The Wall Street Journal

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California’s Brown Calls Conservation Priority in Drought

Quotes Gov. Jerry Brown on comments he made at forum co-hosted by Stanford Woods Institute
October 20, 2014 - By By Alison Vekshin, Bloomberg Businessweek

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“I’ve never run into anything quite like the Woods Institute and the Water in the West program, which is structured for the purpose of taking state-of-the-art knowledge and trying to move it into the decision-making arena.”

- Lester Snow, California’s former Secretary of Natural Resources

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