The Woods Institute for the Environment has awarded five faculty planning grants to develop long-term research programs at Stanford that help solve the world's urgent demands for fresh water.
"Fresh water is crucial to human survival and well-being, yet in poor countries more than a billion people have no access to safe water supplies, and more than 2 billion lack basic sanitation facilities," said Woods Institute Senior Fellow Richard Luthy, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Waterborne diseases and contaminated drinking water are major causes of illness and contribute to the death of millions of children each year, and unsustainable diversions of water for agriculture have resulted in the collapse of fisheries worldwide."
The demand for fresh water is also a major issue in the developed world, he added: "Here in California, we are facing one of our worse droughts in two decades. This is an immediate reminder about our vulnerability to 'business as usual' in the West, and it's apparent the era of cheap water and wasteful practices is closing."
To address these and other environmental challenges, the Woods Institute launched a campus-wide freshwater initiative in 2007 that included a series of water seminars for faculty and students. "Stanford already has excellent programs in various aspects of fresh water," said Woods Senior Fellow Rosemary Knight, a professor of geophysics. "What the freshwater initiative allows us to do is to pull people together, in new ways, to work on critical problems associated with fresh water."
Last spring, the Woods Institute invited Stanford researchers to submit proposals for freshwater planning grants to an evaluation committee chaired by Woods Co-Director Jeff Koseff, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. In July, the committee awarded the following five projects a total of $312,520 over the next nine months:
Water and Development: Scaling Local Solut
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