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College of Engineering, Computer Science & Construction Management

Chico State hosts WRPI Conference

The annual WRPI Conference was held this past week, for the first time ever on the campus of Chico State.

Jack Webster, Civil Engineering Professor, "It's put on by the Water Resource Policy Initiative. It's a CSU affinity group, so it represents campuses across the CSU system. It's a group of individuals that are working on water related projects and water policy projects. So there's quite a diverse background of interests within this group."

The conference itself took place on Thursday with a group of professors and water experts speaking to dozens of people in the audience.

Boykin Witherspoon, WRPI Executive Director, "Primarily faculty and students, but then we also invite industry folks, so we had some water agency people here, some engineering firms, things like that."

One of the attendees and speakers was Chico State Civil Engineering Professor Jack Webster, who spoke on potential water contamination following the Camp Fire.

Webster, "I think the first thing to say is that after something like the Camp Fire, we don't really know what the issues are. There's certainly a number of studies looking at post wildfire water quality, but nothing that has involved this many structures, this many burned vehicles. And the type of fire that this was, which was really an urban firestorm, so there's a lot of unknowns regarding the potential for contaminant transport and the risk to our watersheds."

The day after the conference, on Friday, attendees were also given the chance to take a special bus tour around Butte County, with stops at the Feather River Fish Hatchery, Oroville Dam, and a trip through Paradise to see the after effects of the Camp Fire. It gave many of the visitors from the other CSU's a great opportunity to learn about our area.

Kayla Nelson, Sonoma State Environmental Studies Major, "I have a huge interest in water, so being able to tour the Oroville Dam, especially after the emergency spillway construction was really interesting for me to see firsthand the large scale of water engineering that we do is remarkable. In addition to the tour, I'm from Santa Rosa, and I remember the Tubbs Fire. Driving through Paradise hit home for me and to see what happened here on a much larger scale was a very humbling experience."

Overall, the two days proved to be very informative for those involved. And being able to host the event here at Chico State was an excellent way to showcase our campus and community.

Webster, "There's a number of people on the campus that are working closely with WRPI on a number of different projects, so it was a great opportunity to see with all the collaborators from across the CSU system, and I think it's fitting, because we really have been doing a lot of work with WRPI here at Chico State."