Arizona State University moves beyond conserving water to restoring it

On March 22, 2016, a new 5-year Arizona State University (ASU) water initiative was announced at a White House water summit. Its focus is on abundance, instead of scarcity

The initiative, FutureH2O, will flip the global conversation about water on its head and focus on the abundance of water and how to create it instead of hand-wringing about scarcity.

ASU will work with large corporate water consumers to restore what they use, train a new generation of leaders on water usage, turn a Phoenix area municipality into a model for reducing outdoor water use and maximize sensors, data and the Internet around the world to instantly manage water and hydropower.

The initiative will work towards the following five goals:

  • Develop public-private partnerships to fund an urban landscape design and renovation campaign that reduces residential outdoor water use in at least one Phoenix metro service area by a third by 2025.
  • Deliver research and advice to at least 10 of the largest corporate water users in the U.S. to scope, plan and implement restoration projects at scales that improve water reliability in stressed water basins nationwide.
  • Develop online learning platforms for undergraduate and professional clients that cross-train the next generation of water leaders. They will collaborate with energy leaders to find solutions to the complex demands of water usage in producing food and energy, and train 1,000 such leaders across the U.S. Sunbelt in the next 10 years.
  • Build a food-energy-water technology test bed at ASU and use demonstration projects from this test bed as game-changers for the future of agriculture in the arid Southwest.
  • Transform how institutions in the U.S. and developing world embrace, deploy, use and share sensors, data and the Internet of Things to improve real-time management of water, hydropower, fisheries and agriculture in large river basins.

Separately, a revolutionary new tool developed at Arizona State University can help corporations apply analytics to how they use water, simultaneously helping water conservation, habitat restoration and their bottom line.

The water decision tool is in consideration to be adopted by Dow Chemical at its Texas operations on the Brazos River.

We believe there’s not only value to doing this for nature and society, but we have a goal to recoup a billion dollars over the next decade,” said Mark Weick, director of the sustainability program office at Dow.

The Green Infrastructure Support Tool was developed by John Sabo, a professor in the School of Life Sciences and a faculty member of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

It tells Dow how to meet their water bottom line for manufacturing by creating wetlands instead of creating gray infrastructure,” Sabo said. Gray infrastructure refers to built solutions, such as dams or retention basins.

It allows them to site places where they would gain water by restoring what might be currently farmland or something else, or maybe it’s diked and the water can’t get there,” said Sabo, who is also a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

See full article on FutureH2O.

See full article on the Green Infrastructure Support Tool.

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