University of California

Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair, Water Management & Policy

The Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management & Policy was created to develop and apply new methods and approaches to the resolution of water problems through innovative combinations of science, policy and management; respond to inquiries from concerned persons and groups such as water district directors and staff, elected officials, state and federal government, agriculture, business and other special interest groups; facilitate access to information and to experts; and bring information needs to the attention of appropriate people and groups that may lead to expanded or modified research activities of greater value-added to the public. The current holder of the chair is Dr. Thomas Harter, an expert in groundwater hydrology and groundwater issues pertaining to rural and agricultural areas. His research encompasses groundwater resources assessment and modeling, surface water-groundwater interaction, vernal pool hydrology, drought assessment, groundwater banking, assessment and monitoring of groundwater quality impacts from farming, including the fate and transport of nutrients and salts, pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and naturally occurring steroid hormones in California’s aquifer systems.


Stewardship Report 2007-2014

The following is a synopsis of the Hagan Endowed Chair activities during the first seven years of the program:

  •  Led and directed a major 2010-2012 scientific study & policy outreach campaign for the UC Davis study SBX2 1 Nitrate in Drinking Water Report to the California Legislature, which included 3 full-day public workshops, 3 half-day public workshops, 4 full-day state-federal environmental agencies workshops; a year-long seminar discussion series with 16 events featuring invited state and federal agency and stakeholder leaders and representatives; a series of media planning events with public relations planners from 8 state agencies and university institutes; over 50 organized event presentations; development of a website with peak page view rates exceeding 3,000 (over 25,000 page views in the first five months),; a media campaign with interviews that yielded nearly 400 national newspaper articles, online newsblogs, radio and TV news and feature program broadcasts; nearly 30 invited presentations and briefings to state, national, and international audiences, stakeholder groups, and state leadership (legislative briefing to state assembly members and senators, briefings with the governor’s office, individual and executive briefings with heads of seven state agencies – CalEPA, CDPH, CDFA, DPR, DWR, SWRCB, CalNR); and at least four state legislative initiatives during the 2012 legislative session.
  • Developed, led, and chaired a first and unique International Conference “Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture – Bringing together Science and Policy”, held near San Francisco in June 2010, which received enthusiastic reviews. I developed the idea for and also the structure of the conference; created a diverse Program Council of internationally recognized experts to help develop and advertise the program; contacted, managed, and brought more than 70 invited speakers to the conference, which had a total of over 130 oral presenters. I worked with the Water Education Foundation to organize the conference and raised more than $20,000 in support of the conference. Attendance was nearly 300 with a large California delegation, and national and international attendees from North- and South-America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The interdisciplinary conference highlighted the broad array of technical, management, and regulatory issues at the groundwater-agriculture interface and brought together scientists, managers, and policy makers from around the globe. I also developed the conference website (with help from WEF) and the post-conference website, which now hosts an extensive amount of conference materials (abstracts, presentations, a large number of videos) in lieu of conference proceedings. I was the guest editor of a special issue in Water Resources Research on the conference theme to organize post-conference publications.
  • Regularly provide groundwater policy and management support with significant impact to state and federal groundwater quality and management policy; this includes regular reports to the San Joaquin Valley Ag Water Committee of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), and active participation in the Groundwater Resources Association (GRA) Legislative Liaison Committee, which is in charge of providing technical information and education to legislatures and their staff in the capitol; review of key groundwater tools and policy documents (e.g., guidance on groundwater modeling tools for water managers; review of ACWA’s statewide Groundwater Framework “Sustainability from the Ground Up: Groundwater Management in California – A framework”); frequent consultation with state legislative staff and occasionally with legislators, and frequently with regulatory agency staff and stakeholders on emerging implementation of groundwater-related regulations. Recommendations from our 2006 Report on Dairy Manure Management and subsequent technical comments on groundwater compliance monitoring provided to the Central Valley Water Board were implemented in the 2007 Dairy General Order, a major overhaul of groundwater quality regulations on confined animal facilities. Groundwater quality monitoring strategies that I helped develop for the dairy general order are currently proposed to also be implemented as part of a new Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, and are likely to be reflected in a statewide salt and nutrient management and regulation policy by the State Water Board. Through meetings and extension presentations, I actively work with local landowners, local and state agencies, local and state policy makers, and a variety of stakeholder groups in the Scott River watershed, a pivotal salmon-spawning un-managed stream that currently is a focal point for statewide policy efforts to reform groundwater management strategies, especially with respect to groundwater-dependent ecosystems.
  • Since 2008, I am on the Board of Directors of the Groundwater Resources Association (GRA), a professional organization “dedicated to resource management that protects and improves groundwater through education and technical leadership”. We meet quarterly for one to two full days; and I lead their education committee, which meets monthly. As a board member, I have co-initiated and been instrumental in the development of three major new GRA programs: the 501(c)(3) GRA-WEF Scholastic Fund Program to support California college and graduate students with an interest in groundwater sciences (annually raises approximately $10,000); the David Keith Todd Distinguished Lecturer series, which annually nominates two internationally recognized, outstanding groundwater scientists and organizes and supports their lecture series at California academic institutions and professional society meetings; and the Contemporary Groundwater Issues Council, an advisory council to GRA leadership that brings together California’s top policy, agency, and academic leaders in groundwater science, policy, and management. As of May 2014, I am also on the Board of Directors of the Water Education Foundation (WEF).
  • Actively involved in the organization, programming, and hosting of statewide/national groundwater conferences led by GRA’s events committee (Groundwater Monitoring Conference, Groundwater Salinity Conference (2009), Biennial Groundwater Conference (2009, 2011), Groundwater Nitrate Conference 2005, 2012).
  • Main organizer and main instructor of continuing education programs offered through the Groundwater Resources Association (GRA), that includes three regularly taught shortcourses.
  • Maintained strong extension and workshop program (over 400 presentations during the appointment period) and frequent technical-scientific advisory activities with local, state, and federal agencies, and a highly visible workshop with the state legislature on topics related to groundwater resources, nonpoint source pollution, groundwater quality impacts from dairies, and design of groundwater monitoring well networks for nonpoint source pollution regulation; actively engaged in the development of state regulations, and associated outreach activities to a wide variety of stakeholder groups, on agricultural/rural groundwater issues, particularly on environmental impacts from a rapidly expanding dairy industry in the Central Valley, and on groundwater-surface water interaction in the Scott Valley/Klamath Basin. 
  • We maintain an extensive online presence with groundwater information, resources, course materials, and an up-to-date groundwater calendar, Between January 2006 and June 2012, the site received over 250,000 page views and averaged nearly 100 page views per day. Between 2009 and 2011, my publications available through that website are downloaded at an average rate of 134 downloads per day (nearly 100,000 downloads over a two-year period). My factsheets on water well construction, groundwater, and groundwater quality remain the most popular publications. In addition, received nearly 500,000 hits and, to-date, had 38,000 page views from 19,000 visitors at over 11,000 unique IPs.





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