UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

Posts Tagged: water

The debate over dairy products is being milked for all its worth

Tap water is the best choice for quenching thirst. (Photo: CC by 3.0, Jeff Turner)
Since the 1960s, nutrition experts have encouraged Americans to forgo whole milk in favor of skim or low-fat dairy products. Now some scientists are saying the move to low-fat dairy is tied to the country's obesity crisis, according to an article in The Guardian

Robert Lustig, professor of pediatric medicine at UC San Francisco, said he believes drinking whole milk can lead to lower calorie intake overall because it is more filling than low-fat and non-fat alternatives. 

A UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) expert shared a different viewpoint. Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute, said low-fat or skim milk products are still preferable to whole milk because liquid calories are not as filling as equivalent calories from solid food. Nationwide, the goal for most people should be to reduce calorie intake.

"Until we decrease calorie intake on a population level, we are unlikely to see much reversal in the obesity epidemic," Ritchie said.

Before the end of 2015, the federal government is expected to release its revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the Guardian article, the guidelines are expected to tout vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seafood and "low- or non-fat dairy." The guidelines inform the USDA's dietary infographic, which at the moment takes the form of a plate half filled with vegetables and fruit, and the other half with a small portion of protein food and whole grains.

The Nutrition Policy Institute has been advocating for the addition of water on the MyPlate icon to reinforce its position that plain tap water is the best choice for quenching thirst.

Posted on Monday, October 19, 2015 at 3:35 PM

Samuel Sandoval Solis shares his passion for water resource management

UC ANR's Samuel Sandoval Solis is featured on the cover of Vision Magazine.
The cover story in the most recent issue of Visión Magazine details the passion and expertise of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' water resources scientist Samuel Sandoval Solis, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis.

Solis was born in Mexico City and began contributing to the family income at the age of 13 as a grocery store bagger. He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at Instituto Politecnico Nacional.

When Solis was hired to help a community of 300 manage its water resources, he was nervous about his abilities, the article said.

"However, like many hardworking Latinos, Samuel put his fear and doubts to the side, and decided to pursue this great opportunity," wrote reporter Vanessa Parra. 

Solis earned a master's degree in hydraulics at Instituto Politecnico Nacional, and a Ph.D. in environmental and water resources engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. His research centered on the Rio Grande, a river shared by Mexico and the U.S. (Mexicans call the river Rio Bravo.)

"I was under friendly fire from people of both nations," Solis said. "Because I was doing my research in the Rio Grande/Bravo while living in Texas, people from the U.S. thought I was a spy and people from Mexico thought that I was a traitor," he said.

The language and culture barriers that Solis once perceived as negative characteristics became valuable assets when he joined the University of California. He is able to communicate with Spanish-speaking farmers on a personal level. 

Solis began his work in California just as it was caught in the grip of the current four-year drought. The dry period, he said, can be viewed as a "tipping point" to change the way the state uses and manages its water. His research focuses on water planning and management.

"We develop methods for finding strategies to better distribute water, ensuring adequate quality and the right timing," Solis said. "We consider the scientific, social, environmental, and economic aspects of basins. Our goal is to improve California's water management through cooperation, shared vision and science-based solutions."

Posted on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 11:02 AM
Tags: drought (18), Samuel Sandoval Solis (2), water (79)

Drought tips available for farmers

Drought strategies are available for growing alfalfa and other crops.
Drought strategies for managing alfalfa and many other crops are available free from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. As California endures a fourth year of drought and ever-tightening water supplies, water-management strategies have become even more critical to farmers.

To help farmers make the best use of the water they have available, a series of new and updated drought tips fact sheets has been developed by UC ANR scientists and funded by the California Department of Water Resources.  

“These drought tips provide irrigation management recommendations for a broad range of agricultural crops and under different water supply conditions,” said Daniele Zaccaria, UC ANR Cooperative Extension agricultural water management specialist at UC Davis and major organizer of the drought tip series. “The information in these tips will be of practical use for growers and other water-related stakeholders now and into the future as our agricultural community continues to adapt to climate variability and to a changing water supply situation.”

UC ANR scientists have identified best management practices for a wide range of annual and permanent crops and irrigation systems and methods during the drought. In the drought tips series, they also give advice for managing soil salinity and using shallow groundwater for irrigating crops.  For beef cattle, they provide recommendations for culling herds and feeding to supplement grazing.

The following drought tips are currently available for free download at http://ucanr.edu/drought-tips:

  • Drought strategies for alfalfa
  • Drought management for California almonds
  • Use of shallow groundwater for crop production
  • Drought strategies for walnuts
  • Fog contribution to crop water use
  • Reclaiming Saline, Sodic and Saline-Sodic Soils

As fog passes through an orchard, some of the water is intercepted by trees. (Photo: CC by-nc-nd 2.0)
Several more drought tips for dozens of commodities and situations are in the process of being published and will be posted online soon.

Decades of UC ANR research underlie the information contained in the drought tips. In the 1970s and again in the 1990s, UC ANR partnered with DWR to develop a series of drought management fact sheets.

“DWR has worked with UC ANR to update the drought tips and make sure the latest and best information on water management is available to growers,” said Peter Brostrom, DWR Water Use Efficiency Section Manager.

The California Institute for Water Resources, which coordinates water-related research and extension education across the 10 UC campuses and UCANR, has the drought tips and more drought resources online at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu.

“Even if El Niño brings rain this fall, water scarcity will continue to impact California farmers,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. “As climate change continues to reduce the average annual snowpack, it is likely that droughts in California will become more frequent and severe in the years to come.”

UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources and the California Department of Water Resources also offer drought-related information in a series of videos. Water experts from UC and other agencies and institutions have recorded presentations on high-priority drought topics. Currently 38 videos can be accessed for free on computers and mobile devices at http://ucanr.edu/insights.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. Learn more at ucanr.edu

Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:48 AM

The health impacts of sugary drinks

Refined sugar (Photo: Ann Filmer)
Americans consume nearly three times the recommended amount of sugar every day, and about half the U.S. population consumes sugary drinks on any given day.

Excess sugar consumption contributes to obesity, tooth decay, early menses in girls, and chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease. To add to the damage, doctors are now attributing too much dietary sugar to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

It's enough to make you sit up and listen to the warnings about too much soda, sugary drinks, and sugar-laden processed foods.

What is a sugary drink? It's any beverage, more or less, with added sugar or other sweeteners, including high-fructose corn syrup. The long list of beverages includes soda, lemonade, fruit punch, powdered fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and many flavored milk products.

People are becoming aware of the concerns of too many sugary drinks, and steps are being taken to reduce their consumption. Some K-12 school districts across the nation are limiting sales of soda, and the City of Davis will soon require that restaurants offer milk or water as a first beverage choice with kids' meals.

UC Cooperative Extension, the county-based outreach arm of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, is partnering with health agencies and conducting public service programs for youth and families about sugary drinks. UC ANR Cooperative Extension in San Joaquin County recently presented a "Rethink Your Drink" parent workshop in conjunction with the county's Office of Education, and Solano County Cooperative Extension is working with the California Department of public health to engage youth in "Rethink Your Drink" programs.

Sarah Risorto, UC IPM Program, refills her water bottle at a UC Davis water station. (Photo: Ann Filmer)

Lucia Kaiser, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, co-authored a policy brief about California's rural immigrants who have poor-quality tap water, or perceive tap water to be bad. Kaiser, who is also a nutrition faculty member at UC Davis, noted that studies have found a link between water quality and consumption of sugary drinks, which is a concern in low-income communities that don't have resources for clean water.

As of this month (July 2015), UC San Francisco is no longer selling sugary beverages on its campus, and UCSF has launched a Healthy Beverage Initiative. UC Berkeley held a Sugar Challenge this year, and UC Davis is conducting a Sugar Beverage Study on women.

Scientists at UC San Francisco, UC Davis, UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute, and other universities are studying the health effects of sugar and implementing health outreach programs. And UC's Global Food Initiative is building on the momentum of excessive sugary-drink consumption.

A healthy alternative to sugary drinks? Water, of course. Many universities and public places are replacing traditional drinking fountains with water stations so that students and others can fill their own bottles and have water “on the go.” And UC President Janet Napolitano is working with the Nutrition Policy Institute on a bold and sensible request to place water on the USDA's MyPlate nutrition guidelines.

The next time you're thirsty, drink wisely to your good health.

Additional information:

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 8:23 AM
Tags: drinks (1), Lucia Kaiser (1), sugar (1), water (79)

From fracking to water affordability, UC takes on new water-related research

Lake Mendocino in 1977. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.
Which California communities are more likely to vote down hydraulic fracturing? Are efforts to make safe, affordable drinking water more accessible working? These are among the questions University of California scientists are trying to answer with six new research projects funded by the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' California Institute for Water Resources.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a form of natural gas and oil extraction, is water-intensive and could exacerbate water stress. Gwen Arnold, professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, is examining efforts to locally restrict high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

“There's a lot of concern over water pollution and water use in communities,” said Doug Parker, UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources director. “We're looking at the characteristics of communities that have voted on measures to restrict the practice of fracking, both where the measures have failed and where they've passed.”

Parker expects that people on either side of the issue will be able to use the study's finding to better understand differing viewpoints. Decision-makers who may be contemplating policy action on fracking will also benefit from seeing the range of relevant policies passed by other jurisdictions and the conditions that appear to favor or discourage adoption of the policies.

Another research project is assessing the Integrated Regional Water Management approach to address the lack of safe and affordable water in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. In 2011, the California Department of Water Resources funded seven pilot projects to develop models for improving water supplies for these communities.

“We want to take a look at how well Integrated Regional Water Management worked, whether it is meeting the needs of providing safe, affordable drinking water,” Parker said.

Jonathan London, professor in the Department of Human Ecology and director of the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis, and Carolina Balazs, UC presidential postdoctoral research fellow at UC Davis, are evaluating the impact of those efforts in Inyo-Mono counties, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles County, Kings Basin, North Coast, Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley.

The Salton Sea, which provides habitat for pelicans and other migratory birds, is shrinking and exposing more soil.
UC scientists also received funding for the following projects:

Learn more about these and other California Institute for Water Resources research projects by visiting http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/CIWR_Making_a_difference.

The California Institute for Water Resources integrates California's research, extension, and education programs to develop research-based solutions to the state's water resource challenges. An initiative to maintain and enhance healthy families and communities is part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.


Next 5 stories | Last story

University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

Like us on Facebook: UCCE Sonoma                        Follow us on Twitter @UCCESonoma 

Webmaster Email: klgiov@ucanr.edu