Utah Universities Receive Grant to Study Water Conservation from National Science Foundation

$20 million is coming to Utah to help protect one of the state’s most precious resources: water. The funding is going to several colleges and universities, which will spend the next five years studying, managing and learning how to protect water.

The Beehive state is also the nation’s second driest state. But thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Utah can learn how to better manage its supply of water.

“What we really want to do is improve our ability to predict the future of water quality and quantity.”

Diane Pataki is an associate professor of Biology at the University of Utah, which will receive nearly $5 and a half million dollars of the grant. She says in order to fully picture what affects the water supply, researchers will have to study a little bit of everything.

‘What we would like to do is gain a better understanding is gain a new understanding of how water resources are influenced by what goes on in the mountains and in the climate system and in the soil and also by human processes- by decision making by engineering system, by urban planning, and those decisions tend to be made separately.”

The project is set to last five years and Pataki says plans are already underway to develop a museum-like facility for the public to learn more about their work later on.

“There will be one facility at the U of U campus and one at Utah State and it will be an interactive facility where we can run the results of different scenarios and so the idea is that we can interactively run models that could explore the results of those models and there will be big screens that will visualize those results.”

The University of Utah also plans to start a new graduate fellowship program for students studying water. While Brigham Young University and Utah State University, the lead school on the project, plan to each establish watershed observatories on the Bear and Provo Rivers.