Basin-Logix Team Reflecting on the I-Corps Program

 

For the past decade, the State of California has had a groundwater sustainability problem characterized by declining water levels, increased demand, and extreme drought conditions. In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requiring groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins to balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040. The task placed upon local water agencies to ensure basin sustainability while protecting the interests of stakeholders has been made difficult by several factors, including insufficient standard methods of documentation, regulatory uncertainty, difficulty securing funding for regulatory compliance activities.

 

Last October, the Basin-Logix team was accepted to the fall 2017 cohort of the University of Pennsylvania's I-Corps program. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the I-Corps site program aims to encourage the commercialization of ongoing STEM research at Penn. The Basin-Logix team, which consists of three hydrogeology masters students from Penn’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science, explored the viability of solving California’s groundwater sustainability issue using a hydrologic model integrated with an exchange platform. The ongoing environmental issues in California have prompted the Basin-Logix team to research the viability of multidisciplinary basin management strategies.

 

As part of the I-Corps program market discovery phase, the team conducted interviews with water managers, stakeholders, experts, and potential exchange platform users. Interviews were conducted in a format that encouraged the interviewees to discuss their current concerns and challenges relating to technical, regulatory, and socioeconomic topics linked to basin sustainability.

 

Interviews with water managers and hydrogeologists in California were extremely encouraging. Feedback collected suggests that the problem of complying with new regulation and managing a sustainable basin has significantly complicated the lives of the stakeholders and water managers. Drawing upon the compelling data collected, the Basin-Logix team now expects to advance their conceptual background, narrow the basin criteria, and begin to build a tool to intended to assist water managers to achieve basin sustainability. The team’s long-term goal is to further develop this tool into a model integrated exchange platform.

 

The members of Basin-Logix would like to thank the Penn I-Corps Site Program. We would also like to thank all the individuals and organizations that participated in this phase of our research. We very much look forward to sharing developmental milestones and new insights in the next few months.

 

 

 

Contact information: 

alfahham@sas.upenn.edu

 

Basin-Logix Team Members: 

Abdel Alfahham

Aaron McGarvey

Spencer Harris