Dennis Gibbs graduated with a BA degree from the UCSB Geography Department in the Spring of 1989, and was immediately hired by Santa Barbara County Flood Control District (after doing an internship) in order to assemble their first computerized rainfall database, using the spreadsheet of that era, Lotus 1-2-3. His emphasis as a Geography major was Climatology, Hydrology, and Geographic Information Systems, the latter of which was in it’s infancy in the late 1980’s (the Department didn’t offer a BS in 1989). Dennis studied under the tutelage of Joel Michaelsen, Jeff Dozier, Earl Hajic, Frank Davis, Laura Haston, Jack Estes, and Jeffrey Star.
Dennis went on to manage the Flood Control District’s Hydrology section and the ALERT (Automated Local Evaluation in Real Time) System, in which automated rainfall and streamflow sensors reported in “real time” via radio frequencies to Flood Control headquarters, which allowed engineers and hydrologists to evaluate runoff and flooding conditions. Dennis then became the Flood Control Hydrologist, he served as an officer for the ALERT Users Group, and he was President of the Santa Barbara–Ventura Chapter of the American Meteorological Society for several years. He also published a paper with Ed Keller after the Painted Cave Fire: “Hydrological Response of Small Watersheds following the Southern California Painted Cave Fire of June 1990.”
In 1999, Dennis had an opportunity to transfer to the Santa Barbara County Water Agency to work on Groundwater and Water Supply issues, and he once again turned to the UCSB Geography Department and came back to take classes taught by Hugo Loaiciga to “bone up” on the principles of the characteristics of Groundwater. During this time, Dennis became the Senior Hydrologist for the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, a licensed professional Hydrologist through the American Institute of Hydrology, and a licensed Weather Modification Operator through the Weather Modification Association. His duties included administration and oversight of the regional cloudseeding program to increase rainfall in the watersheds behind Lake Cachuma and Twitchell Reservoir, as well as dealing with Groundwater reports and information requests. During this tenure, he authored and coauthored several reports and publications, including “Using a Geographic Information System to Store, Retrieve and Disseminate Groundwater Data” and “Water Availability of the Cuyama Valley, California.”
When asked about his education in the UCSB Geography Department, Dennis replied: “I was very fortunate to get an excellent education under some tremendous individuals like Dr. Michaelsen, Jeff Dozier and many, many others, many whom formed the Bren School at UCSB. It was a very diverse education that allowed me to expand in all horizons of Earth Sciences.” After a 26 year career with the County, Dennis’s plans are to spend more time with his parents who are 82 and live in Clovis, do some traveling, and find a role in helping California agricultural interests meet their water requirements during this dry spell, particularly in light of the new regulations about water that are emerging.