Center for Water and the Environment

Research Initiatives

Big Chico Creek Watershed Tour

The Big Chico Creek Watershed Tour is an innovative new program for students through CWE. Students from across campus can apply for this 1-unit course to explore watershed issues from the headwaters of Big Chico Creek to its confluence.

The purpose is to engage students in complex, real-world problem-solving using a local watershed as the model for exploring issues in the context of larger, multifaceted environmental and societal systems. Students will learn with faculty from different departments across campus; engage with fellow students from different majors, use multidisciplinary research techniques, and learn hands-on about the creek that runs through campus.


Solar Energy Research

A team of engineers and chemists working with industry, county officials, and community colleges to develop research and capacity in material, electronics, manufacturing, cybersecurity.


The biodiesel team, led by Dr. Lisa Ott (Associate Professor in Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Dr. Janine Stone (Assistant Professor in Economics Department) is developing a process for using biodiesel waste glycerol in the production of deep eutectic solvents, an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional volatile organic solvents.

The team, comprised of chemistry, economics, and agricultural business students, tested the chemical process for developing DESs from waste-glycerol and studied the economic viability of deep eutectic solvents used in university chemistry labs instead of conventional volatile organic solvents. The team was funded by EPA P3 Phase 1 to research a sustainability challenge and travel to the D.C. competition to present their innovative solution. The faculty and student team’s success led to Phase 2 funding by the EPA to continue their biodiesel research through 2019.

Water Quality

A team of civil engineers and environmental chemists are developing a research laboratory experience for undergraduates to sample and test water quality in local creeks.

Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory

The mission of the Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory (ABL) is to support the use of biology in California's water-quality management and assessment programs. The ABL at CSU, Chico is affiliated with the Department of Fish & Game's Water Pollution Control Laboratory in Rancho Cordova, CA.

Big Chico Creek Water Quality Monitoring

The goal of this project is to observe the influence of land use and environmental changes, such as drought, fires, and urban runoff through long term monitoring of major water quality characteristics of Big Chico Creek. Data acquisition began in Spring 2021 and datasets will be updated as new data are made available. Over time, the project will develop a multi-year data base to be used by students and faculty for future studies that may occur within the Big Chico Creek watershed. This webpage is made available by faculty and students from California State University Chico and the Center for Water and the Environment. Data may be obtained and uploaded from measurements conducted along Big Chico Creek.

Urban Stormwater

Dr. Sandrine Matiasek is leading an interdisciplinary team of CSU, Chico students to research and develop sustainable biofiltration technology for small urban areas like Chico. Using the CWE laboratory as the staging ground for their research, the students are developing green methods for filtering urban stormwater runoff in order to reduce the impact of sediments, pesticides, metals, and other pollutants on local aquatic ecosystems.

WRPI Portola Project(opens in new window)

The CWE team is part of a CSU-wide team to provide planning and engineering services to formulate a construction/financing program for replacing the City of Portola's sewer lines and to prepare feasibility studies for alternative drinking water supply and distribution. The CSU-wide team will include the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) administrative staff and consultants, CSU, Fresno faculty, and CSU, Chico faculty, and students.


Lower Tuscan Aquifer

The study of the lower Tuscan Aquifer in the Northern Sacramento Valley.