Arizona State University to lead water research initiative for state’s resources

Nov 20, 2022, 7:15 AM

The Colorado River flows by the historic Navajo Bridge on June 23, 2021 in Marble Canyon, Arizona. ...

The Colorado River flows by the historic Navajo Bridge on June 23, 2021 in Marble Canyon, Arizona. As severe drought grips parts of the Western United States, a below average flow of water is expected to flow through the Colorado River Basin into two of its biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Lake Powell is currently at 34.56 percent of capacity, a historic low. The lake stands at 138.91 feet below full pool and has dropped 44 feet in the past year. The Colorado River Basin supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University will have a major role in the state’s water usage going forward, as the the institution will lead the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative.

ASU and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the multi-year project that will involve a $40 million investment by the state.

The university will be tasked with presenting immediate, actionable and evidence-based solutions for the future of Arizona’s water supply, a diminishing resource, based on its research.

“… ASU will serve as a force multiplier to enhance our water resiliency,” Ducey said in a press release. “Arizona has a great resource in ASU and the leadership of President Michael Crow to respond with force when called upon to advance work that serves the state.

“From the Central Arizona Project to the landmark Groundwater Management Act, to the Arizona Drought Contingency Plan, leaders in Arizona have looked ahead to future generations and taken action to ensure that our growing state has the water it needs to thrive.”

ASU was asked to involve industrial, municipal, agricultural, tribal and international partners in its solutions to find new strategies and deploy technologies for water conservation, reuse and infrastructure.

It will research water measurement, modeling and prediction and plans to fully map out and model Arizona’s water supplies.

ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory will lead the initiative.

“This is a critical innovation moment for water in the state of Arizona, and frankly for all seven basin states who have been sharing responsibility for creating water policy in this region for more than 100 years,” ASU President Michael Crow said in the release.

“The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative will strengthen water resilience while enhancing economic competitiveness, supporting high-value job creation and recruiting and retaining leading industries.”

The timeline for the work includes a one-year “innovation sprint” and a four-year implementation period.

Partners in the effort will include the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project, Salt River Project, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Intel.

The funding comes from the $1 billion appropriated by the governor’s office in July to water projects in the state.

Most of Arizona’s water goes to agricultural use (72% in 2019), followed by municipal use (22%), according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

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Arizona State University to lead water research initiative for state’s resources