Rising Waters

Rising Waters is a three year initiative (2020-2023) emerging from the WATERS Collaborative, a long-term partnership between SSU and Sonoma Water. Rising Waters deepens this collaboration by measuring its success in meaningfully improving water-related sustainability and resilience challenges of the North Bay. It also broadens the collaboration to include partnerships with the Russian River Watershed Association and City of Santa Rosa and providing agencies, governments and organizations with:

  • Viable solutions on emerging complex issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries
  • Facilitated cross-disciplinary discussion
  • Enhance public awareness of complex issues
  • High-quality interns and graduates with real-world experience on issues of importance

Leadership Team
Rising Waters is designed to help decision makers develop solutions for complex issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries and disciplines. Projects are collaboratively identified and addressed by a Leadership Team composed of water agencies, organizations, and universities who work together to explore new solutions that might never be imagined through traditional structures.

Dr. Claudia Luke, Director, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU
Dr. Chris Halle, Program Development Lead, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU
Don McEnhill, Executive Director, Russian Riverkeeper
Sean McNeil, Deputy Director Environmental Services, City of Santa Rosa
Andy Rodgers, Executive Director, Russian River Watershed Association
Matt St. John, Executive Officer, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Michael Thompson, Asst General Manager, Sonoma Wate
Dr. Judith Ford, Sustainability & Resilience Fellow, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU
Kerry Wininger, Educational Outreach Lead, Center for Environmental Inquiry, SSU

The Nexus of Water Quality and Community Members Experiencing Homelessness
Rising Waters currently addresses the nexus of homelessness and watersheds. Recent increases in homelessness is testing the fabric of North Bay communities and the agencies, governments and organizations that serve them. Despite the existing policies and approaches, “the worst outbreak of Hepatitis A in recent memory in California occurred in 2016-2018 due to open defecation and lack of handwashing facilities for persons experiencing homelessness” (Pacific Institute 2018). These are complex challenges that require multi-organizational and multi-disciplinary solutions based on the best information available. Rising Waters is an opportunity to use the power of inter-disciplinary study to develop viable solutions, and to enhance public awareness of the complexity of these issues. Each year, subject experts particular to the subject at hand are invited to join the Planning Team. This has included:

Jenna Garcia, Housing Administrator @ City of Rohnert Park
Matt St. John, Executive Officer @ North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
Emily Quig, Homeless Services Coordinator @ City of Rohnert Park
Ludmilla Bade, Advisory Committee of California Interagency Council on Homelessness, Sonoma County Continuum of Care Strategic Planning Committee

1. Leadership Planning Workshop: July 16, 2020 - Leaders from environment, water, health and social service sectors identify by Planning Team sketch out the issues and big questions at the nexus
2. Issues and Studies Workshop: Sept 9, 2020 - Pan-sector participants identify specific research questions, which launch multi-disciplinary faculty-student teams
3. Year 1 Progress Workshop: May 2021 - Student preliminary presentations of multi-disciplinary faculty-student teams to leadership team and community members
4. Year 1 Results Workshop: September 2021 - Faculty presentations of final results
5. Year 2 Progress Reports: May 2022 - Student submissions to the SSU Virtual Research Gallery (search for "Rising Waters")
6. Year 2 Results Workshop: October 2022 - Faculty presentations of final results
7. Year 3 Progress Reports: May 2023
8. Year 3 Results Workshop: October 2023 - Faculty presentations of final results

To watch recordings of public presentations and workshops, visit our Past Events Page and search for "Rising Waters"