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Arizona plans to give millions to ASU for water innovation, research

Phoenix Business Journal

The state of Arizona plans to invest $40 million in Arizona State University to lead a multi-year initiative for the state’s future water supply.

The university said in a Wednesday announcement from ASU and Gov. Doug Ducey that it will work with industrial, municipal, agricultural, tribal and international partners to accelerate and deploy new approaches and technology for water conversation, augmentation, desalination, efficiency, infrastructure and reuse.

The state said the funds will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The funds will be used to build on and leverage the school’s programs in water science, technology, management and law, ASU said. It will also include a new Global Center for Water Technology, which will “advance” solutions such as:

  • Technology, policy, law and infrastructure for coastal water desalination
  • Advanced technology for more water-efficient agricultural operations
  • Commercialization and deployment of water treatment and reuse technology that supports energy production and microchip manufacturing
  • New designs for urban water conservation

In addition, the new program will also focus on advanced water observatory and real time decision support for water measurement, modeling and prediction to provide data for identifying “critical risks, vulnerabilities and capabilities,” the university said. The observatory will use technology to fully map, monitor and model all of Arizona’s water supplies.

“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,” said ASU President Michael Crow in a statement. “The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative will strengthen water resilience while enhancing economic competitiveness, supporting high-value job creation, and recruiting and retaining leading industries.”

News of the funds comes as the decades-long drought and Colorado River shortages continues to impact Arizona and other states that rely on the river for resources.

The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative will be implemented and scale up over five years. Partners of the initiative include the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Science Foundation, NASA; state and local partners include Arizona Department of Water Resources, Central Arizona Project, Salt River Project and the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, and both the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, ASU said.

The university added that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Intel Corp. and SOURCE Water, an ASU spin-out company, are also partners in the initiative, which will be led by Julie Ann Wrigley Global Future Laboratory and the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“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,” Ducey said in a statement.


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