ESM121 Water Science and Management

ESM 121: Water Science and Management

            Syllabus                        Current Class                                       Previous Term Projects                                  Materials

ESM-121 Water Science and Management (Add two units CRN 43138) is a class that teaches fundamental methods of water resources planning and management, contemporary water resources problems and tools. The course is divided into three sections: (1) theory, (2) practice through useful and quantitative exercises, and (3) real world experience, 1 hour per week each. In the real world experience section; exercises are developed from real world problems, guest speakers come to the classroom (such as water managers, practitioners, decision makers and experts from multiple disciplines), give a lecture and share their vision and challenges on water resources management.

Topics in this course include:
   - Fundamental concepts of hydrology (hydrology 101)
   - History of water in California (California Water 101)
   - Integrated water resources management (IRWM)
   - Water Budgets
   - Water resources modeling: simulation and optimization model
   - Cost-Benefit Analysis
   - Surface water and groundwater storage management
   - Environmental water management
   - Risk analysis
   - Climate Change

As the instructor of this class, Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis designed this class based on three pillars for integral education in water resources management: (1) theoretical fundaments of hydrology and water resources management, (2) tools to apply the theory, and (3) meaningful real world experience. By the end of the class, students are expected to have a thorough conceptual and quantitative understanding of water resources management. Furthermore, students are expected to have the understanding on how to develop a water plan.


- Hanak, E., Lund, J., Dinar, A., Gray, B., Howitt, R., Mount, J., Moyle, P., Thompson, B. (2011). Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation. Public Policy Institute of California. San Francisco, California.
- Harter, T., Lund, J. (2012). Addressing Nitrate in California's Drinking Water with a Focus on Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley Groundwater. Executive Report. Center for Watershed Sciences. University of California, Davis. Davis, California. 
- California Department of Water Resources (2015). Groundwater Sustainability Program: Strategic Plan. Sacramento, California. Aditional description of SGMA inplementacion is provided in the BMPs (Best Management Plans)
- Postel, S., and Richter, B., (2003) River's for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature. Island Press. (Free for reading at UC Davis Library).

Water data, useful links, videos and books

California Water databases, useful Link, videos and books (link)


4:10 – 5:00 pm Monday and Wednesday. In person lectures resume on May 8th, 2023. Location: Wellman Hall 230

Discussion Sessions

3:10 – 4:00 pm Thursday Section 2 (A02) Location: Olson Hall 167 (TA - Ramon Saiz Rodriguez)

4:10 – 5:00 pm Thursday, Section 1 (A01) Location: Wellman Hall 205 (TA - Ramon Saiz Rodriguez)

5:10 – 6:00 pm Thursday, Section 3 (A03) Location: Storer Hall 1342 (TA - Ramon Saiz Rodriguez)

Click here to follow along with  discussion presentations

Office Hours

Samuel Sandoval Solis, 135 Veihmeyer Hall. Email:
Office hours: Wednesdays 1:00 - 2:00 pm.
Request a meeting at:
Other times only by appointment.
Teaching Assistant

Ramon Saiz Rodriguez (
Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00 PM. Other times only by appointment.
Request a meeting through Calendly:


Field trips

Register here.

Water Cycle and River Hydrology to Lake Berryesa Dam / UC Davis Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve. Register here

(Field trip InstructionsHandouts and Pick up location)


Class Assignments

There are 8 class assignments, look at the bottom of this webpage. There are the instructions to join Hydrolearn.

Extra Materials

- Exercise Submission Template
- Term project template, sharing report the document and presentation files, presentation guidelines.
- Study Guide: Midterm and Final Exam 



Instruction Begins Monday March 28, 2022

What's due?






Term Project

Introduction to Water Resources Management



Mon 3 Apr Discussion of Syllabus and logistics of the class (syllabusvideo)      
Wed 5 Apr Introduction to Wat. Res. Plan. and Management (presentation, video 1 & 2) Rd 1     
Thu 6 Apr Discussion - Introductions and logistics. Fill your interest.      
Environmental Flows and Hydrology 101      
2 Mon 10 Apr
Principles of Environmental Flows (theory)
Wed 12  Apr Environmental Flows  in California and in Californiapodcast) & Urban Demand  Rd 2     
Thu 13 Apr Discussion- Project Management, log model and Abstract    Ex. 1   
Control Volumes, Water Budgets and Simulation Modeling      
3 Mon 17 Apr

Water Budgets - Control Volumes (handout, Video: shortextended). Ag Water Demand

    Submit your group 
Tue 18 Apr Homework Due   Ex. 2  
Wed 19 Apr

Simulation modeling (video, Podcast 1 & 2)

 Rd 3    
Thu 20 Apr Discussion- How to literature review     Project management plan
Water Rights and Allocation Systems      
4 Mon 24 Apr Water rights and water allocation (WR 12 and 3, Handout 1 and 2)      
Tue 25 Apr Homework Due   Ex. 3  
Wed 26 Apr Hydrology 101 (physiographyclimate, droughtfallwinterspringsummer, groundwater 1 and 2), Estimating Water Demand and Water Supply Rd. 4     
Thu 27 Apr Training Field Data Collection at Russel Field behind the Tennis courts(Behind visitor parking lot 15) Register here!     Abstract
Sat 29 Apr
Sun 30 Apr
Field Trip (Half of the class)/Field Trip (Half of the class)(Instructionshandouts & pick up location)      
Water Allocation Systems      
5 Mon 1 May History of Water in California (video 12 & 3) - Review for the midterm       
Tue 2 May Homework Due   Ex. 4  
Wed 3 May MIDTERM EXAM - ONLY 1st half of the course      
Thu 4 may Discussion- Design methodology. May the fourth be with you!      Literature review
Cost - Benefit Analysis      
6 Mon 8 May Scenario Evaluation   Rd. 5    
Tue 9 May Homework Due    Ex. 5  
Wed 10 May Cost Benefit Analysis (videopresentation)      
Thu 11 May Discussion - Methods and UC Davis and City of Davis Bike Tour at 8 am (Optional)     Methods
Optimization Modeling      
7 Mon 15 May

Droughts, Floods, and SGMA (Video)

Tue 16 May Homework Due   Ex. 6  
Wed 17 May Principles of Optimization  (Video), handout, presentation)      
Thu 18 May Discussion- Science communication     Results
Risk Analysis and Environmental Justice      
8 Mon 22 May

Risk Analysis and Expected Monetary Value (Video)

Rd 6    
Tue 23 May Homework Due   Ex. 7  
Wed 24 May Role of Scientist in Decision Making (videopodcast)      
Thu 25 May Discussion- Term Project Presentation (Upload your presentation link here, location PES 2005)      
California Full of Extremes      
9 Mon 29 May No class - Memorial day Holiday  Rd. 7     
Tue 30 May Homework Due   Ex. 8  
Wed 31 May Environmental and Social Injustice in the Water Sector (Podcast 1 and 2, Video 12 and 3)      
Thu 1 Jun Discussion - Term Project Presentation (Upload your presentation link here, location PES 2005)     Final report 
Integrated Water Management       
10 Mon 5 Jun ESM 121 - Panel of Alumni      
Wed 7 Jun FINAL EXAM - ONLY 2nd half of the course        
Thu 8 Jun Discussion- Term Project Presentation (Upload your presentation link here)      


Other recommended Topics: Agriculture and Food System (Video 12 and 3) (Recommended other videos 12, and book)




Instructions to join Hydrolearn
Use this template for submitting Your Water Plan


Rd.1 Rivers for life pp. 5-26, 36-41

Hydrolearn Ex. 1.


-  Introduction (Tutorial, pdf)

- Components of the Water Budget: Introduction Environmental Water Needs (Tutorialsheet, pdf

Rd.2 Rivers for life pp. 45-67

Hydrolearn Ex. 2. 


- Components of the Water Budget: Urban and Rural Water Demands (Tutorialsheet, pdf)

Rd.3 Hanak et al. pp 15-40

Hydrolearn Ex. 3. 


- Components of the Water Budget: Agricultural Demand (Tutorialsheet)

Rd.4 Hanak, Lund et al. pp 41-69

Hydrolearn Ex. 4. 


- Components of the Water Budget: Water Budget  (Tutorialsheet)

Rd.5 Hanak, Lund et al. pp 71-103

Hydrolearn Ex. 5.
- Water Plan Summary: Baseline Water
- Alternative Water Management Strategies (Tutorial, sheet)

Rd.6 Harter et al. pp 1-34

Ex. 6: Cost Benefit Analysis (Data, Tutorial)

Rd.7 Groundwater Sustain. Program pp 4-31

Ex. 7: Optimization Modeling (Data, Tutorial, Solver in canvas)


Ex. 8: Risk Analysis and Expected Monetary Value (Data, Tutorial)