Daily Iowan: Director Appointed for UI Water Initiative

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In the face of the pending global water crisis, the UI has started a new initiative to improve research in the field of water sustainability.

Engineering Professor Jerald Schnoor will head the new Water Sustainability Cluster Steering Committee, an ongoing effort to enhance the university’s sustainability programs, UI Provost Wallace Loh announced on Wednesday.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the university,” Schnoor said.

The committee will provide guidance to the Water Sustainability Initiative, which includes 10 new faculty positions. The group will research various aspects of water-related issues, including ground water, water chemistry, and worldwide health effects, Schnoor said.

Water sustainability is a broad topic, which requires many fields of expertise, said Barry Butler, the dean of the College of Engineering.

Schnoor will now help choose members for the committee, including representatives from the vice president and provost’s offices.

Officials hope the committee will help expand research on the topic and therefore improve campus resources on water sustainability.

“We already have existing [sustainability] strengths on campus to build on,” Butler said.

Searches are underway to fill spots in the program’s chemistry, geology, and public health fields.

Schnoor will make his final recommendations to Loh, who will then appoint positions.

The committee could face lagging funds because of the recession, but the UI is still pushing to improve its green initiatives.

“We’re trying to lead with our strengths and forge new initiatives,” Schnoor said.

Officials said they hope the water sustainability initiative will help create classes for students interested in the field.

According to the World Water Council, more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water and roughly 3,900 children die every day from water borne diseases.