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NSF grant will focus on interconnections of food, energy, and water in New Mexico

September 18, 2015

Two University of New Mexico School of Engineering faculty members, Ricardo Gonzalez-Pinzon, assistant professor of civil engineering, and Andrew Schuler, associate professor of civil engineering, will take the lead for a new National Science Foundation grant.

The research will focus on wastewater recycling for agriculture in arid regions seeks to understand how to expand the supply of water to agriculture through wastewater recycling and improved management decisions between wastewater treatment plants and water conservancy districts in arid regions.

"In developing this research area we are heeding calls to help resolve the growing competition between the demands of freshwater resources for urban and agricultural uses, particularly in arid and semi-arid, densely populated regions," said Gonzalez-Pinzon. "Our research seeks to provide scientific knowledge to support the transformation of traditionally ‘linear’ societies (which treat intake water, use it, and then treat the wastewater and disposed of it directly in rivers), into ‘recycling’ societies capable of making productive gains in water use and reuse while minimizing environmental pollution."

"Food, energy and water are linked in a nexus with complex synergies and tradeoffs," Schuler said. "Scientists and engineers need to provide holistic solutions that address these complex interactions in order to conserve energy and water while guaranteeing water quality for downstream users."

The $298,449 grant will leverage and existing $5 million grant from the NSF Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program led by Kerry Howe. The Center for Water and the Environment is already conducting research in water and energy areas.

Additional UNM faculty members involved in the project are David Van Horn (Department of Biology) and Jose Cerrato, assistant professor of civil engineering.

Follow the research at Center for Water and the Environment