College of Science

Department of Applied Environmental Science

Kelleen Harris '04: Santa Cruz Water Resource monitor

Kelleen Harris

Kelleen's story: I graduated from ESSP (now ESTP) in 2004 with an emphasis in Watershed Science. However, my career path started while still in school with an internship, as I would recommend to every student to pursue. I have had an interest in water quality for some time, so I worked part time for a year and a half at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Applied Research Laboratory. There I acquired water sampling and chemistry experience, used equipment to get in-situ measurements, and got my first tastes of quality assurance/quality control measures. I also found local volunteer programs to be helpful, including First Flush, Snapshot Day and Urban Watch (programs created by a former CSUMB student!).

Kelleen Harris in a stream

After graduation, I had the immense fortune to be offered a position on campus with Central Coast Watershed Studies (CCoWS) working for Dr. Fred Watson. I learned how to measure the effectiveness of agricultural management practices for water quality protection including sediment basins, cover cropping steep hillsides, and constructed wetlands. This meant a lot of exciting nights watching radar on the Internet and mobilizing a storm team to collect data at several agricultural sites. Following this project I stayed on with CCoWS working for Dr. Marc Los Huertos. This project took me all over the Central Coast with a team collecting periphyton (visualize the slippery stuff on rocks in the stream!) and physical habitat data (pHab) from waterways.

Frogish creature

Currently I work for the City of Santa Cruz Water Department, in the Water Resources section; I started in March 2008. Since the City of Santa Cruz depends on several surface water sources, watershed protection is extremely important to keep the quality of those sources high. The Water Resources section manages the City’s numerous watershed lands and supports the Water Department with environmental compliance and monitoring. My time is split about 1/3 fieldwork, 2/3 office time.

On a typical day I might gage a stream, retrieve data from an in-situ datalogger, add data to a flow curve, collect vertical profiles in a lagoon, do a snorkeling fish survey, complete water rights paperwork, keep up with current environmental laws, or write a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to prevent impacts to listed species from Water Department operations.

The career path I have experienced has been very rewarding; the ESTP Program and the personal, supportive environment it provided was the foundation that made everything else possible!

Kelleen Harris at work