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David Feldman - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

David Feldman

Professor of Urban Planning & Public Policy and Political Science, Director of Water UCI | UC Irvine


David Feldman specializes in water resources management and policy, global climate change policy, ethics and environmental decisions.





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Water Crisis - featuring Professor and Chair David Feldman Water UCI: How it Came to Be Water UCI: Effectively Managing Our Water


The technologies that could solve California’s droughts



David Feldman specializes in water resources management and policy, global climate change policy, ethics and environmental decisions, adaptive management, and sustainable development. His current research is focused on the sources of value conflicts over allocation and distribution of water, and the difficulties in achieving institutional reform to promote equity in water management in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Areas of Expertise (7)


Sustainable Development

Ethics and Environmental Decisions

Water Resources Management

Global climate change policy

Adaptive Management


Accomplishments (3)

Policy Studies Organization Interdisciplinary Scholar Award (professional)


Aaron Wildavsky Award (professional)


Merit Award for Exceptional Teaching and Research (professional)

1984 Moorhead State University

Education (3)

University of Missouri at Columbia: M.A., Political Science 1975

University of Missouri at Columbia: Ph.D., Political Science 1979

Kent State University, Ohio: B.A., Political Science, English 1973

Magna cum laude

Affiliations (3)

  • Frontiers : Associate Editor in Climate, Ecology, and People
  • Water : Editorial Board member
  • Social Sciences : Editorial Board member

Media Appearances (9)

Wanted in South Korea: Imperialism-Free Cherry Blossoms

The New York Times  online


During Japan’s rule over the Korean Peninsula, from 1910 to 1945, Yoshinos were planted as part of an effort to instill “cultural refinement” in colonial subjects, said David Fedman, the author of “Seeds of Control,” a 2020 book about Japanese forestry in colonial Korea. … The politics of cherry trees have ebbed and flowed along with Japanese-Korean relations, and nationalist claims about them have mostly crowded out scientific nuances, said Professor Fedman, who teaches history at the University of California, Irvine.

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California: After violent weather, a ghost lake reappears and causes flooding

France Info  online


In central Carolina, Lake Tulare – gone for decades – has made a comeback. “There are two problems,” explains David Feldman, professor of [urban planning and] public policy at UC Irvine. “First, the volume of water is such that infiltration will take time. Second, the soil is extremely dry due to these years of drought – it limits its ability to absorb surface water. Again, it will take time.”

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How the recent storm system will impact California's drought

KCBS Radio  radio


As another series of storms move through California, residents are curious how this recent rainfall will help the drought. To answer all your drought-related questions, Eric Thomas and Margie Schafer spoke with David Feldman, Director of The Water Institute [and professor] at UC Irvine, on "Ask An Expert."

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An Interview with David Feldman, the Director of Water UCI

Orange Coast  online


David Feldman, director of Water UCI and professor of urban planning and public policy and political science, discusses UC Irvine’s interdisciplinary approach to helping solve the world’s biggest water issues. What is Water UCI? “We started about eight years ago as an initiative on the part of the chancellor to bring different units of the university together to explore issues of societal importance. Some colleagues and I got together and said, ‘A really important issue here is water.’”

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How government will allocate water levels from Colorado River

KCBS Radio  radio



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California has been hammered with rain. It may not be enough to reverse its drought.

NBC News  online


“If you can harvest that stormwater, pump it underground into basins or store it through reservoirs or natural engineering means like wetlands, the better you do that, the more equipped you’ll be in dry periods,” said David Feldman, a professor of urban planning and public policy at the University of California Irvine.

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Can California’s massive rain solve its historic drought?

The Washington Post  online


The Washington Post talked with… David Feldman, the director of the University of California, Irvine’s water institute and professor of urban planning & public policy and political science. Will storm water technology end California’s droughts? Feldman: “Storm water harvesting [is] a piece of a complex puzzle. It will not solve all of our problems, but it can solve an appreciable portion of our problems. We might not want to use rainwater for drinking. However, that water can be treated to various degrees of reuse, at least in order to, for example, irrigate plants or irrigate landscaping.”

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Urban dwelling

UCI News  online


The Livable Cities Lab was launched in April 2021, helmed by Tita, with fellow social ecology professors Emily Owens, Susan Turner, John Hipp and David Feldman on board. Its purpose, Tita says, is to come up with research and solutions that address our urban problems. The LCL’s efforts fall into three categories: housing, public safety and social enterprise.

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To solve the water crisis, companies are increasingly turning to AI

Fortune  online


“It’s pretty bad,” said David Feldman, a political scientist who is the director of Water UCI, a water science and policy think tank at UC Irvine.

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Event Appearances (5)

Public Acceptance as Key to Water Innovations

Cassandra  EURECAT and European Union


Toward a New Water Politics: Embracing ethics and cultural diversity in a water-sensitive future

Mexican Institute of Water Technology (Instituto Mexicano de Technologia del Agua)  Online


People, Place, and Environment as seen through California’s water – must the past be our future?

Investigating People, Place, and the Environment  San Diego County Office of Education conference


Depletion, Degradation, Diversion – the death and life of inland seas as a global policy challenge

Dead Sea Research Institute’s 2nd global scientific summit  Ein Bokek, Israel


Governance and Governmentalities – what makes freshwater alternatives politically acceptable Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges

School of Social and Policy Studies  Tel-Aviv University, Israel


Articles (5)

Perceived services and disservices of natural treatment systems for urban stormwater: Insight from the next generation of designers

People and Nature

2022 Natural treatment systems (NTS) for stormwater have the potential to provide a myriad of ecosystem services to society. Realizing this potential requires active collaboration among engineers, ecologists and landscape planners and begins with a paradigm shift in communication whereby these groups are made aware of each other's perceptions about NTS and the presence of knowledge gaps that their respective disciplines can bridge.

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Environmental Attitudes and Knowledge: Do They Matter for Support and Investment in Local Stormwater Infrastructure?

Society & Natural Resources

2021 Stormwater infrastructure substantially impacts water quality and supply. In the U.S., local agency investments rely on public support from taxes or fees. Assessing individuals’ knowledge and willingness to pay helps inform potential pathways to funding and green infrastructure implementation.

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University Stormwater Management within Urban Environmental Regulatory Regimes: Barriers to Progressivity or Opportunities to Innovate?

Environmental Management

2021 U.S. public university campuses are held directly responsible for compliance with many of the same federal- and state-level environmental regulations as cities, including stormwater management. While operating as ‘cities within cities’ in many respects, campuses face unique constraints in achieving stormwater regulatory compliance.

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From yards to cities: a simple and generalizable probabilistic framework for upscaling outdoor water conservation behavior

Environmental Research Letters

2020 Outdoor watering of lawns accounts for about half of single-family residential potable water demand in the arid southwest United States. Consequently, many water utilities in the region offer customers cash rebates to replace lawns with drought tolerant landscaping. Here we present a parcel-scale analysis of water savings achieved by a 'cash-for-grass' program offered to 60 000 homes in Southern California.

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Addressing Pluvial Flash Flooding through Community-Based Collaborative Research in Tijuana, Mexico


2020 Pluvial flash flooding (PFF) is a growing hazard facing cities around the world as a result of rapid urbanization and more intense precipitation from global warming, particularly for low-resourced settings in developing countries. We present collaborative modeling (CM) as an iterative process to meet diverse decision-making needs related to PFF through the co-production of flood hazard models and maps.

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