The University of Arizona and Pima County have signed a major agreement to establish Water and Energy Sustainable Technology, or WEST, Laboratories.
Pima County Wastewater is constructing a new 23,000-square-foot building this summer for the laboratories. WEST Laboratories aspires to be a world-renowned venue for research and development of water treatment technologies, contaminant monitoring tools and energy minimization and production.
The WEST Laboratories concept originated from the two co-directors: Ian Pepper of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a pre-eminent scientist with expertise in microbial emerging contaminants, and Shane Snyder of the College of Engineering, an internationally known expert on emerging chemical contaminants.
"The WEST Laboratories will target the water-energy nexus by ensuring a supply of safe drinking water to meet community needs for the foreseeable future, while meeting sustainable energy requirements," said Pepper.
"In addition, the WEST Laboratories aspire to not only become a global leader in new water and energy technologies, but also focus on creating additional jobs and economic development in the region, while simultaneously providing advanced educational and training opportunities," added Snyder.
"Pima County’s collaboration with the University will benefit our community by joining UA’s world-class researchers with the daily operations of a state-of-the-art wastewater reclamation facility," said Jackson Jenkins, director of the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department. "Effluent is becoming increasingly important to our community’s water portfolio, and the more we research its impact and benefit for our desert community, the better we can put this important resource to work for us."
The Water Reclamation Campus is an integral component of Pima County’s investment in the billion-dollar Regional Optimization Master Plan, which will enable the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department to meet regulatory requirements while protecting the county’s environment and water supplies for decades to come.
This partnership between the UA and Pima County will help bring together water and energy experts, the public, government and private corporations to work on technology development and education in water and energy sustainability.