Water is -- and will continue to be -- the cornerstone of growth and prosperity in the San Joaquin Valley.
Whether it is water for agricultural crops, to supply homes or support the environment, the region's fate is determined by how much water runs down the mountains, is pumped from beneath our feet and flows to us from the north. When these water sources are in balance, all is well. When they fail to deliver, it's front-page news.
Last month, California celebrated Water Awareness Month -- reminding us that it's important to reflect upon and learn more about our most important resource.
Fresno State knows that water is a foundational Valley issue and has set in motion the hiring of eight new faculty members with expertise in water. They'll be spread across the university's eight colleges and schools, because water touches every major on campus if one looks closely enough. A community donor has pledged $300,000 to support initial research efforts by our new faculty.
The university also is in the final approval process of developing an online Professional Science Master of Water Resources Management degree program.
Campus-based research addresses a wide range of local issues, including water use efficiency in agriculture and urban settings, integrated regional water management planning and water needs of disadvantaged communities.
Fresno State is the lead organization for the Water Resources Policy Initiatives, a statewide effort supported by California State University Chancellor Charles Reed. It brings together the water expertise of faculty and staff from all 23 CSU campuses to focus on solutions for California's water challenges and to train the best and brightest students to be the water problem-solvers for future generations.
Federal and state agencies, local government, water districts and industry are our partners in seeking sustainable water supplies and improved water quality and proving that, on a good day, water brings the community together like few other issues to find a common path for our future.
Earlier this month, 250 individuals from across the community came to Clovis to learn about and address the many facets of water and new technology that helps us manage our resource more efficiently and effectively.
A lot of that technology is based locally: more than 120 Valley companies making products and providing services that treat, pump or otherwise assist in water management. These companies were established here because we live in a dry environment and need to squeeze every drop out of the water we have.
So it should not be surprising that the two largest drip/micro irrigation companies in the world have their North American headquarters in Fresno.
With decades of researching irrigation and water technologies, product testing and private-industry partnerships, Fresno State and area companies are embarking on Blue Tech Valley, a visionary plan to expand the water industry in the San Joaquin Valley.
Leading water-technology companies and forward-looking Valley-based organizations such as Grundfos, Claude Laval Corp. and Jain Irrigation are working with Fresno State's International Center for Water Technology, the Water Energy/Technology Incubator and the Fresno Workforce Investment Board.
The high-tech sector has Silicon Valley and we intend to make our area Blue Tech Valley. No other region is better suited to develop, test and help establish new companies in the fast-growing water technology sector. The Valley already is home to some of the most productive agricultural land in the world and to cutting-edge research and development in water technology with worldwide impact.
BlueTech Valley will leverage our region's unique natural resources of water, air, land and climate with the region's many challenges to create a rich framework for testing, development and commercialization of water and energy technology for inventors, established companies and start-ups alike. (Learn more at www.bluetechvalley.org.)
Fresno State also is working on numerous other projects to help ensure the Valley and California has the tools needed to balance our water needs now and for the future. We recognize that water is our heritage, but only with proper planning, leadership and collaboration can we preserve this vital resource and help provide the base for our region's future economic prosperity.
Dr. David Zoldoske is director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and water policy adviser for the California State University system.