The state of Arizona will invest $40 million dollars in the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative (AWII), an actionable, multi-year plan led by Arizona State University that will provide immediate, evidence-based solutions to secure the state’s water future.

In conjunction with ASU, Gov. Doug Doug Ducey announced the initiative will “take advantage of the long history of collaboration on water solutions in the state and region.”

“On the heels of our historic legislation to secure our water future, ASU will serve as a force multiplier to enhance our water resiliency. Arizona has a great resource in ASU and the leadership of President Michael Crow to respond with force when called upon to advance work that serves the state,” Ducey in a statement. “From the Central Arizona Project to the landmark Groundwater Management Act, to the Arizona Drought Contingency Plan, leaders in Arizona have looked ahead to future generations and taken action to ensure that our growing state has the water it needs to thrive.”

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University researchers, led by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Lab, will work directly with partners across government, industry, and nonprofit organizations to ensure leading-edge research and technology are translated into substantial impacts for Arizonans.

“The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative is designed first and foremost to take advantage of the intellectual capital, and innovative technology created at the University and to translate that into solutions to help secure Arizona’s water future as that is central to every other metric of success to the state,” said Dr. Dave White, lead researcher and project manager of AWII, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation within the Global Futures Lab, and associate vice president for research advancement in ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

White said that AWII is rooted in ASU’s charter – “taking fundamental responsibility for the community around us.”

“It is always the case that the ASU charter frames and inspires the work we do. Securing our water future is essential to economic development, environmental and conservation, and every social issue important to our state,” White said. “We see this initiative as an investment in our state; as one of public service and of use-inspired research – research that has public value, that contributes to cutting-edge solutions that address these critical challenges facing our state – we hope this opportunity will help the people of Arizona thrive.”

The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative will build upon Arizona’s bold and unique plan to secure the state’s water future by working with several stakeholders at the local, national, and international levels, including, business and industry, to find new ways to solve the water crisis. Some of these could include water diversification efforts like desalination and initiatives with sustainability at the forefront such as reuse.

“This is a critical innovation moment for water in the state of Arizona, and frankly for all seven basin states who have been sharing responsibility for creating water policy in this region for more than 100 years,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement. “The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative will strengthen water resilience while enhancing economic competitiveness, supporting high-value job creation, and recruiting and retaining leading industries.”

White agrees, saying the initiative will build Arizona’s water resiliency so that we have a strong system – an approach to managing and responding to any shocks or stresses to our regional systems – with safeguards in place so when we face drastic scenarios like a 20-year mega drought (like we’re currently facing) the system can respond to such a challenge and remain vibrant. The plan will include diversifying water resources, and reuse of recycled water.

White said that the project’s collaborative spirit will make Arizona more competitive in the 21st century economy and assist in addressing national security concerns, noting that securing Arizona’s water future is fundamental to attracting business development opportunities. Key companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – a large corporation helping America reduce its dependence on semiconductors from countries with more difficult diplomatic relations – need sustainable water to operate long-term in Arizona.

The initiative will also include the establishment of the Global Center for Water Technology to advance comprehensive solutions around technology, policy, infrastructure, and law for coastal desalination, advanced technology for water-efficient agricultural operations, commercialization and deployment of water treatment and reuse technology that supports energy production and microchip manufacturing, and new designs for urban water conservation.

And the plan will also include an Advanced Water Observatory and Real Time Decision Support to transform water measurement, modeling, and prediction while identifying critical risks, vulnerabilities, and capabilities. White describes the observatory as a center with state-of-the-art technology capable of fully mapping, monitoring, and modeling all of Arizona’s water supplies.


This story was originally published by Chamber Business News.