San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science (SFEWS) is an academic, peer-reviewed electronic journal that addresses the extraordinarily complex and often problematic water resources issues in California. The journal showcases papers that describe the physics, chemistry, geology, and biology of the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a region where resource-management issues of national significance represent a major part of the habitat of endangered species, while also providing the water supply for 8% of the population of the U.S.
The journal was established in 2003 by the Muir Institute, in collaboration with two other partners: the University of California Office of the President’s California Digital Library eScholarship publication service, which provides the electronic platform for the journal, and the Delta Stewardship Council, which provides financial support (grants to UC Davis of >$1.8M over the past 8 years). The journal has five objectives and serves as a forum for commentary, discussion and debate about basic and applied research pertaining to the science and resource management of the Bay–Delta region.
California water issues are steeped in controversy, the resolutions of which are important to both the state and the nation. Many of the controversies have a technical basis, and many of the most important and contentious debates are about science. The Muir Institute links science and technology to policy, providing the intellectual basis for interactions between researchers, regulatory agencies, policymakers and the public. SFEWS has supported this initiative for the past 15 years as an open-access publication that does not charge authors to submit manuscripts nor readers to access articles. Because the journal’s audience is broad, comprising not only the scientific community but also water agency staff, policymakers, and other stakeholders within California’s complicated water arena, bridging new science with policy is important. Both the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of SFEWS are Muir Institute-affiliated, and thereby Muir Institute scientists manage every aspect of the journal, from day-to-day operations to long-term strategy.
As an unbiased neutral initiative, SFEWS provides credible scientific information and essays from policy leaders and influencers on timely water issues, linking new science to policy, with great impact. Although it retains a regional focus, is widely read, receiving as many as 3,000 hits and downloads per month. Scopus ranked SFEWS 55th of 183 journals in the Water Science and Technology category for 2016. According to eScholarship statistical data on usage for 2017-18, SFEWS is the #1 contributor of scholarly research for the Muir Institute, and the #3 contributor of scholarly research for UC Davis and the University of California, campus-wide.