Water Sustainability Initiative
Meeting today’s water needs without compromising the needs of future generations is among our greatest challenges. The University of Idaho has established a long-term sustainable water initiative to meet this challenge by fostering new research on water, water resources and sustainability that is important to Idaho and the Northwest, while having national and global relevance.
The president’s initiative provides funding for teams to work together on water and sustainability issues that will attract government, academic and industry partners.
Faculty and staff were tasked with developing fresh and distinctive ideas for this competitive, university-wide grant program that will increase U of I’s visibility in the areas of water and sustainability. Approximately $65,000 was made available for projects and the recipients were named July 1, 2020.
Five projects were awarded grant dollars:
CONDUITS-ID (Connecting and Developing the University of Idaho Through Stakeholder Integration and Direction) will directly connect faculty and researchers on the Moscow campus with businesses, agencies and nonprofits in southern Idaho, where the state faces major water issues. The program will forge one-on-one relationships that connect the University of Idaho to stakeholders, upholding its land-grant mission. Project lead: Alexander Maas, assistant professor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. $3,315.
WATER RESEARCH AT TWRS will position water resources as a central focus of the Taylor Wilderness Research Station by conducting an inventory of water resources within the area’s watershed, developing a database of TWRS research and laying the groundwork for new water research efforts at TWRS. Project lead: Dr. Mary Engels, assistant professor, College of Natural Resources. $19,843.
ACE (Advancing Collaborative Efforts) will address overly used, degraded agricultural soils across the arid West. By using soil moisture and crop sensors, researchers will assess impacts of innovative irrigation and soil regenerative practices on crop performance. This “sensor centric” approach will be demonstrated at the Water Soil Health Demonstration Farm, located in Rupert as a part of the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment (Idaho CAFE) initiative. Project lead: Dr. Erin Brooks, associate professor, agricultural engineer, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. $20,000.
WILDERNESS SUITE is a collaboration between geography and the arts that uses music and film to explore human and environmental relationships and change in the Big Creek drainage where U of I’s Taylor Wilderness Research Station is located. The project will integrate public perceptions and stories of water in ways that are impactful to a broad audience. Project lead: Dr. Ruby Fulton, assistant professor of theory and composition, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. $9,243.
TEAM SINEW (Sustaining Idaho’s Needs in Environment and Water) is a University of Idaho team with expertise in social science, water resources, satellite mapping, and environmental chemistry that is forming partnerships with three Idaho communities across the state that have pressing water needs. Researchers will work with local partners to identify water-related sustainability issues where local planning and management could benefit from scientific data on water resources. Project lead: Dr. Lee Vierling, distinguished professor and dept. head, College of Natural Resources. $13,315.
At the end of the reward period each project’s lead investigators will have 30 days to submit a close-out report detailing publications, presentations, grant submission and student involvement enabled by the grant. A final report is due within 12 months of the close-out of the award.