Deirdre Des Jardins, Director of California Water Research, has done integrative synthesis of scientific and technical literature on California water issues and climate change since 2010. She previously did research on nonlinear dynamics and complex systems theory at NASA Ames Research Center, the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and The Santa Fe Institute for Complex Systems.

Telling Inconvenient Truths

She has long been a teller of inconvenient truths about climate change impacts on California water, and has advocated for use of best available science in climate adaptation plans and related projects. In 2018, the Delta Stewardship Council found, in part based on her testimony, that the WaterFix project did not use best available science on sea level rise,

In 2021 she led a successful campaign to save the Delta Independent Science Board after the Board’s work was defunded. The Independent Science Board consists of ten nationally and internationally prominent scientists tasked with oversight of the Delta Science Program, and also has a history of telling inconvenient truths.

Advocating for climate vulnerable communities and ecosystems

In 2019, she worked with a network of environmental groups to propose state investments in climate adaptation that protect vulnerable populations and ecosystems. She also has extensive experience working with environmental, fishing, and Delta community-based groups who are at the front lines of climate impacts on California water.

She also has a background of dealing with years of serious threats to her life during graduate school. It gives her empathy and insight into the psychological impacts of the existential threat of climate change on individuals and communities. She was also hit by a semi in Westlands Water District in 2014 and almost died from her injuries, but recovered and kept going.

Addressing climate risk

California Water Research’s current research is on

  • integrative synthesis of research on drought and climate change impacts on western watersheds
  • comprehensive risk management of climate change driven impacts to California’s rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
  • societal impacts of cascading disasters
  • social networks in natural resources management and dynamics of beliefs and emotions

Research, analysis, and expert testimony

California Water Research has worked collaboratively with many groups and experts to provide comments in California water planning processes and on proposed projects, as well as providing expert testimony on scientific and engineering analyses in hearings.

That work has included:

  • analysis of impacts of operations of California’s State Water Project and Central Valley
  • analysis of embedded GHG emissions in the State Water Project
  • testimony to the National Academy Sciences Panel on the emergence of Harmful Algal Blooms in the Delta
  • testimony on entrainment of salmonids at the South Delta pumps
  • analysis & testimony on the Pelagic Organism Decline and regime shift in the Delta ecosystem
  • testimony on senior water rights on the Sacramento River and associated diversions during the 2014-2016 drought
  • extensive review of expert testimony on the Delta tunnel project in the WaterFix Water Right Change Petition hearing
  • testimony on the Delta tunnel project, including geologic and construction hazards and climate change impacts
  • testimony on CALSIM model of SWP and CVP operations
  • analysis of causes of well failure in East Porterville
  • analysis of patterns of agricultural and urban water use in California and research on conservation & alternative water supplies
  • reports on soil and groundwater salinization in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin and associated land fallowing

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