Ph.D. students in Civil and Environmental engineering, Laura Haak and Vijay Sundaram, along with faculty advisor and professor Krishna Pagilla, were awarded the Water Environment Federation’s McKee Groundwater Protection, Restoration or Sustainable Use Award.
The paper, “Sustainability Assessment for Indirect Potable Use: A Case Study from Reno, Nevada,” researched methodology adapted from a triple bottom line approach to evaluate how potable water reuse may impact the social, environmental and institutional criteria identified as drivers for local water resource management.
“This research is part of a broader regional project to evaluate the feasibility of potable reuse in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area,” said Haak.
The project specifically investigated closed-basin communities in the North Valleys region of Northern Nevada, and how they could benefit by indirect potable reuse of high-quality reclaimed water through groundwater augmentation. The researched practices can lead to social, environmental and economic benefits, instead of exporting the effluent, or liquid waste or sewage, outside the closed basin or surface discharge.
“This is a prestigious international award that will highlight our research to the professional community and will bring visibility to be a leader in water reuse and sustainability research in the world,” Pagilla said.
The graduate research assistants, under Pagilla’s supervision, collected data, analyzed results and prepared the research paper and reports of the project’s outcome as part of their Ph.D. work.
“As a practicing reuse specialist, I believe this work is transformative in linking the water infrastructure development and sustainability and [creating] intangible benefits to the community,” said Sundaram.
The award was presented at the annual WEF conference in Chicago from September 20-25th and the winners were showcased in the Hall of Fame.