Hollywood. The Vegas Strip. Silicon Valley. The American West is home to many of the most iconic and vibrant business, entertainment, social, and agricultural centers in the entire United States. But the economy of the West is predicated on the cheap provision of one of its scarcest resources: water. The rapid growth of this region, along with persistent drought and a warming climate, stress the very water that the West relies on for its economic and social viability.
From March 21-29, 2010, the California/Nevada Service Learning Trip, also known as “The Water Trip,” will take a roadtrip from the Bay Area to Sacramento, down through the Central Valley, and then to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Along the way, we plan to explore issues of water policy, water resource management, innovation in a resource-constrained environment, and the intersections between other social and economic systems.
In Sacramento, we will start by exploring the politics of water in the Western U.S. and take a closer look at balance between human and ecosystem water needs, particularly in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. We will then follow the California Aqueduct’s flow southward though the Central Valley to understand the role of agricultural water use, irrigation practices, and land management on the region’s water resources. We will continue on to the more arid climes of Los Angeles and Las Vegas to see how water issues impact the West's cities. There we will meet with large corporations, water managers from local districts and agencies to understand the economic implications and opportunities of water scarcity. We will cap off our trip with a special tour of the Hoover Dam, a water engineering marvel of the twentieth century.
Bernadette Clavier is the Associate Director of the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. She is in charge of the center’s online and social media strategy, software infrastructure, and conference programs. In her spare time she created an organic food program for Bay Area schools, trains as a disaster first respondent, and advocates for autism spectrum disorders awareness.