Water in the Terrestrial Environment


Spring 2014

Professor Laurel Larsen, 595 McCone Hall,

MW 1:00-2:30

Office Hours: Thursday 2-4 pm


This is an introductory course on hydrology and water resources, designed for students from a broad variety of backgrounds. We will cover the science of the water cycle and how various human activities—including urbanization, agriculture, and human-induced climate change— impact the earth’s quantity and quality of clean water. We will also cover the role of water in current environmental issues, such as hydrofracking, nuclear waste disposal, dam building and removal, and ecological restoration projects. Students will gain a working familiarity with hydrologic terms and issues and a basic understanding of the tools and analyses used in common water quantity and quality assessments.


Working knowledge of algebra and basic statistics and probability.


You will get the most out of this course if you do the required readings, which are also essential for doing well on quizzes and exams. Readings will come out of several different sources. Many of the readings will come from the following two books, which are required for the course. I think you will find these books to be useful, comprehensive references and interesting reading.

Both books are available for rental through at a reduced cost, and the Anisfeld text is available for the kindle. The abbreviation used in the schedule of reading is listed at the end of each expanded citation below.

Ward and Trimble, 2003, Environmental Hydrology, Second Edition. Lewis Publishers.

Available through the bookstore or as a rental on ( WT )

Anisfeld, S. 2010, Water Resources, Island Press. Also available through the bookstore or as an rental. ( SA )

In addition, several of the readings will come from e-books available for free through the library:

Mount, J. 1995, California Rivers and Streams, University of California Press. ( JM )

Karamouz, M., Nazif, S., and Falahi, M. 2013. Hydrology and hydroclimatology:

Principles and applications. CRC Press. E-book coming soon!

( KNF )

Shelton, M. 2009, Hydroclimatology: perspectives and applications. Cambridge

University Press. E-book coming soon! ( MS )

Musy, A. and Higy, A., 2011. Hydrology: a science of nature, CRC Press. ( MH )

Requirements and Grading Policy

Your grade will be determined by your performance on a midterm and a final, in-class quizzes, and timely completion of five assignments. Each day an assignment is late, 20% of the total will be deducted. Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

Quizzes: 15% (3% each)

Assignments: 42% (7% each)

Midterm exam: 18%

Final exam: 25%

The standard scale for grades is as follows: A+: 97-100%, A: 93-96%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%,

B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 73-76%, C-:70-72%, D+: 67-69%, D: 63-66%, D-:60-

62%, F: <60%. Tests and assignments will be curved if needed. For students taking the class pass/fail, a “pass” given for scores 60% and higher.

Extra credit : There are two opportunities to gain extra credit. One is to attend the watch party for the movie Chinatown, a fictionalized account of the development of Los Angeles’ water supply and the water war that ensued. This classic Jack Nicholson film nicely sets up some of the topics we will be covering in class and should provoke interesting discussion. By attending and participating in the subsequent discussion, you will be able to drop your lowest quiz score or assignment score (whichever makes the greatest difference in your grade). While you may use this extra credit to make up for one missed quiz, you may not use it to avoid turning in one of the assignments.

The second opportunity for extra credit is to report on one current event related to water. To take advantage of the extra credit, email the GSI with the news article and a request for a presentation slot in the next class. (This is to ensure that not everyone reports on the same topic. Requests will be honored on a first-come first-serve basis.) Successful completion of the assignment involves making a short (3-5 min) presentation to the class about the current event, describing how it relates to the topics of this class, and, where warranted, critiquing the news article or the approach described. Then post a two-paragraph write-up (a summary + critique/relating to class topics) on b-space. Successful completion of this assignment will lead to the addition of 4 points to your final grade.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to uphold the campus honor code at all times. You are a member of an academic community at one of the world’s leading research universities. Universities like

Berkeley create knowledge that has a lasting impact in the world of ideas and on the lives of others; such knowledge can come from an undergraduate paper as well as the lab of an internationally known professor. One of the most important values of an academic community is the balance between the free flow of ideas and the respect for the intellectual property of others.

Researchers don’t use one another’s research without permission; scholars and students always use proper citations in papers; professors may not circulate or publish student papers without the writer’s permission, and students may not circulate or post materials (handouts, exams, syllabi— any class materials) from their classes without the written permission of the instructor.

Any test, paper, or report submitted by you and that bears your name is presumed to be your own original work that has not previously been submitted for credit in another course unless you obtain prior written approval to do so from your instructor. In all of your assignments, including your homework or drafts of papers, you may use words or ideas written by other individuals in publications, web sites, or other sources, but only with proper attribution. If you are not clear about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or examination, be sure to seek clarification from your instructor or GSI beforehand. Finally, you should keep in mind that as a member of the campus community, you are expected to demonstrate integrity in all of your academic endeavors and will be evaluated on your own merits. The consequences of cheating and academic dishonesty—including a formal discipline file, possible loss of future internship, scholarship, or employment opportunities, and denial of admission to graduate school—are simply not worth it.

A zero-tolerance policy for cheating or plagiarism in any form will be strictly enforced. Any student caught cheating or plagiarizing will receive a score of zero for that assignment or test and be reported to Student Affairs.

Scheduling conflicts:

Please notify me by the second week of the term about any known or potential extracurricular conflicts (such as religious observances, graduate or medical school interviews, or team activities). I will try my best to help you with making accommodations but cannot promise them in all cases.

Key dates and deadlines:

January 31, 6:30 pm: Optional watch party (extra credit) for the movie “Chinatown.” Pizza will be served.

January 29: Quiz 1: Water terminology and water cycle

Assignment 1 distributed: Where does your water come from?

February 5: Assignment 1 due

February 12: Assignment 2 distributed: Watershed delineation and precipitation calculator

February 19: Assignment 2 due

February 19: Quiz 2: Evaporation and transpiration

February 24: Assignment 3 distributed: Boulder flooding frequency analysis

March 3: Assignment 3 due

March 6: Midterm exam

March 10: Assignment 4 distributed: Strawberry Canyon stream discharge assignment.

March 17: Assignment 4 due

April 2: Quiz 3: Groundwater and water tracing

April 9: Assignment 5 distributed: USGS database assignment

April 14: Assignment 6 distributed: Hydrofracking essay

April 16: Assignment 5 due

April 10: Quiz 4: Water quality

April 23: Assignment 6 due

April 28: Quiz 5: Hydrologic manipulation for human needs

??: Final exam


Tentative schedule of lecture and readings

Please keep in mind that this schedule is subject to change. Final assignments will be posted on bspace one week ahead of time.

Topic Tentative reading for the day’s lecture

22-Jan Water terminology, water cycle, and water balance WT 1.2, 1.6; SA p.11-20;

27-Jan Water inventory, global water supply and water alternatives environmental-success-story-saving-mono-lake/

SA 35-63; 77-89; 122-136

29-Jan Water rights and water wars



Water in air: precipitation, humidity, fog, interception

Infiltration, soil water, and the vadose zone

SA 239-246; Ch. 13; JM Chapter 10

WT Ch. 2; p. 86; 95-98

WT Ch. 3

10-Feb Evaporation and transpiration

12-Feb Watershed delineation and Strahler stream order, channel networks

19-Feb Overland flow

24-Feb Floods: hydrograph separation, flood frequency curves

26-Feb Streamflow

3-Mar Review

5-Mar Midterm exam

10-Mar Streamflow: methods. Calculating discharge

WT 83-94; 100-117

SA 20-25; MH p. 71-103

WT 119-146

JM 267-286; WT 147-151; 345-349

JM 86-90; JM 17-37

WT 198-205, 407; MH 221-228

12-Mar Hydrogeology: springs, confining layers, flow nets WT 321-331


19-Mar Groundwater: measurement, wells, cones of depression


Groundwater flow, hydraulic conductivity, permeability, transmissivity

Spring break

WT 331-337; SA 86-89; Zektser, S., H. A. Loaiciga & J.

T. Wolf (2005) Environmental impacts of groundwater overdraft: selected case studies in the southwestern

United States. Environmental Geology,47, 396-404

26-Mar Spring break

31-Mar Water tracing methods: tracer tests, isotopes, dating MH 278-286

2-Apr Sediment transport by water and effective discharge JM 38-51; WT 161-165; 177-180

7-Apr Fluvial geomorphology: Channel pattern and ecogeomorphology

9-Apr Water quality: metrics, load calculations, and methodology

14-Apr Water quality: groundwater contamination and remediation; hydrofracking

16-Apr Water in the urban environment

21-Apr Water in agrisystems

23-Apr Dams

28-Apr Water and climate

30-Apr Water and climate change

5-May Reading and recitation week

7-May Reading and recitation week

JM 50-81; WT 170-172; 180-197

KNF p. 285-291; SA 222-223;

NRDC: California’s contaminated groundwater.

Executive summary; Ch 3 p 27-64

WT 285-289;354-360; SA 153-161; 342-345; JM Ch. 15

WT 152-157; 367-368; skim: SA Ch. 10

SA 113-122; 261;225-228; JM Ch. 16

MS p. 248-289

KNF Ch. 9