UCLA”s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science (www.engineer.ucla.edu) formed a new Water Technology Research Center to develop technologies to turn brackish or seawater into fresh water. Researchers at the center also will study methods to minimize environmental impacts associated with desalination — the removal of salt and other pollutants from water — and will seek to lower the cost of desalination.

“Water scarcity is intensifying in all regions of the country. The need for an adequate supply of affordable, accessible, clean water is a key priority for our nation”s future and for Southern California,” said UCLA Engineering Dean, Vijay K. Dhir, in a prepated statement. “As the birthplace of the first viable reverse-osmosis membrane in the 1960s, it is entirely fitting that the UCLA School of Engineering should continue to take this important research to the next level and beyond.”

The UCLA Water Technology Research Center, dubbed the WaTeR Center, will be led by chemical engineering professor and desalination expert Yoram Cohen and will be the first such center on the West Coast. The WaTeR Center will focus on specific water technology issues, enlisting multidisciplinary project teams involving researchers from several academic institutions including UCLA, UC Davis, UC Riverside, USC, and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain.

The program has awarded a $1 million grant from the State of California and $1.6 million in contributions from other donors. According to current estimates, the salinity of Colorado River water, the primary source of water for 27 million people in California, has an approximate salinity level of 700 mg per liter, 200 mg higher than the set standard deemed acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov). Currently, as the result of the necessary importation of water into California, about 630,000 tons of salt annually accumulates in California aquifers, damaging the state”s water infrastructure in the range of $95 million per year.

— Flow Control Staff