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Formulating Water Efficiency with Dr. Lee
Keiko Montenegro '16, Sustainability Intern for Residence Life
With a PhD in mechanical engineering, Dr. Hohyun Lee is fascinated with the disciplines and efficiency of heat transfer systems. However, Dr. Lee has found that many members of the community are not as interested in efficiency as they are in the cost of the energy, or in this case, water. Water consumption in California is particularly problematic because most of the state’s water originates in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the agricultural community of California pays for a fixed amount of the water, regardless of their crop’s necessity. By paying for a certain bulk of the state’s water, the agricultural industry deprives residential areas of their fair share. Yet residential areas are also guilty of excessive power and water use, often seen to resist adapting to more sustainable practices for lack of convenience.
Both the residential communities and the agricultural industry need to accept that water is limited and that certain sustainable practices need to be observed. What needs to be resolved is the question of how to involve more residential and agricultural communities in the sustainable practices that will allow both parties to prosper. Dr. Lee seeks to take a first step in helping the agricultural community build a sustainable procedure for their water consumption without compromising the size of their crops. Using his background in heat transfer, Dr. Lee plans on compiling data about the minimum amount of water required to grow a certain crop while minimizing runoff during irrigation. Runoff wastes a large amount of water every year, and does not increase productivity in the crops.
In cooperation with the Forge Garden, Dr. Lee will be planting corn in two raised garden beds. By gathering all relevant data with the help of Dr. Yi Fang of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, the beds will both be watered using an ideal schedule to minimize runoff. Together, Dr. Lee and Dr. Fang are bringing our community one step closer to a more efficient and conscious water-consuming community. For more information about Dr. Lee and Dr. Fang's collaboration, please contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.