As traditional sources of water run low, concern around Arizona's water supply is growing. A team of researchers is working to address the problem by advancing water reuse techniques.
The Colorado River, which provides drinking water to tens of millions of people and irrigation water to more than 5 million acres of farmland, has dropped by one-third in recent years. Arizona recently limited housing construction in the Phoenix area based on projections that groundwater will be unable to meet growing demand.
The University of Arizona has received $4 million for phase one of a project to improve water security and water reuse methods in the arid southwestern United States. Phase two will be awarded an additional $3 million in funding, with the possibility of another $3 million for phase three. Together with the University of Southern California and the University of Nevada, which each received grants of the same size, the university is launching the Consortium for Potable Water Reuse. The funding agency is the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory.
"We are the leading schools that do research on water reuse in the Southwest, which is where alternative water sources and potable use is needed," said grant principal investigator Andrea Achilli, a UArizona associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering and researcher at the university's Water and Energy Sustainable Technology, or WEST, Center. "What we want to do is to allow for self-sufficiency and resiliency in the Southwest."