The goal of the Water Village is to develop smart water distribution systems capable of self-monitoring and ultimately self-healing if there are contaminants within them, Pepper said. "We're a little bit away from self-healing, but the self-monitoring is something we're getting closer to.
"If the sensors went off, what would a person at Tucson Water do with that problem? Does that person shut down the entire water system of Tucson, or just to a neighborhood? In order to do that, we need to know where the contaminants originate and where they are going to go. We have a network distribution lab that does this."
Another lab, the point-of-use lab, develops and evaluates technology that is capable of taking out chemical and microbial contaminants prior to going into the consumer's home.
"The ultimate goal of the research and this is futuristic thinking right now would be to miniaturize in-line sensors in a box at a resident's home. Any water going into the home would go past the sensors and a little computer chip would tell if the water is safe to drink or not. The cost of this would be built into the cost of construction of new homes," he said.
Pepper said water reuse historically has been limited to irrigation of grasses and gardens. That could change in the future, where anticipated water reuse could include functions such as toilet flushing and fire protection.
"These are big changes and the Water Quality Center, the WET Center and the Water Village will all be involved in reclaimed water and making sure it is safe and does not have adverse health impacts in the community," Pepper said.
|Contact: Ian Pepper|
University of Arizona