UA heads multi-million dollar water conservation project
Arizona Summer Wildcat
In response to the country's depleting water supply, a $16-million government grant will allow the UA to lead research designed to instigate nationwide conservation.
The National Science Foundation chose the University of Arizona as the primary institution in a multi-university center that will develop ways to manage water resources in semi-arid regions.
"We took the lead and invited a few others to be involved with us," said UA hydrology and water resource professor Soroosh Sorooshian, who will head the project.
Universities in New Mexico, Southern California and Arizona, along with government institutions, will participate in the research at the new National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center.
The NSF received more than 280 proposals with ideas for new centers. Of those, five were selected as science and technology centers and granted a total of $94 million.
"The thing we should be proud of is that we were picked," Sorooshian said.
The foundation granted the project to the UA because of its desert environment which demands water conservation research, he said.
"A lot of people work on the water resource issue in the southwest United States," Sorooshian said.
Roger Bales, a UA hydrology and water resource professor, said the university's hydrology department is rated the best in the nation.
"Water is in very short supply," he said.
The center will focus on how to use water, improve its quality and manage the water resource system.
The center's goal is to better understand the water cycle so as to predict the future, Sorooshian said.
Students will be involved in all levels of the research, and graduate students will conduct much of the research at the center, Bales said. Undergraduates will also be involved through internships, he added.
Programs will be developed for K-12 students and undergraduates to increase knowledge of water resources. About 10 to 20 percent of the budget will go to education programs, Bales said.
The $16 million funding will last five years, and research begins in November, Bales said. The center will be reviewed for additional funding after the initial five years.
The researchers plan to give water resource management in the Southwest any useful information they discover. The Salt River Project in Arizona will be one of many management programs involved with the center.
"We are the primary institution," Sorooshian said. "A lot of people will be coming down here."
Four other centers around the country will study issues from miniature biotechnology and adaptive optics to behavioral neuroscience.