Aug 06, 2009

National Science Foundation Funds Water Reuse Research

University of Arizona researches will produce a model for water managers struggling with energy use and water demands

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation has awarded $2 million to University of Arizona Professor Kevin Lansey, head of the department of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, and four of his colleagues to research water reuse and supply systems.

The research project, Optimization of Dual Conjunctive Water Supply and Reuse Systems with Distributed Treatment for High-growth Water-scarce Regions, will produce a computer model for water managers who are facing the problem of using less energy while meeting increased demands for water.

This research is particularly relevant to Arizona, which is experiencing population growth along with drought.

Many communities rely on water pumped up from aquifers, and much of the state’s surface-water supplies, especially near urban areas, are all spoken for.

Such a resource is unsustainable, and some of Lansey's research revolves around the question of how willing, and to what extent, we are willing to reuse wastewater.

"In water-scarce areas, people will eventually have to use reused water as part of their water supply," said Lansey. "And now the question is how much further people will use it."

Lansey described the research project has having three goals. They are, he said, "economic cost, environmental cost—which includes energy consumption and greenhouse gas production—and social costs, or social acceptability."