UNC-led team given $2.2 million grant to develop water strategy for Southeast

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UNC-led team given $2.2 million grant to develop water strategy for Southeast


Professor Gregory Characklis and his team will develop innovative strategies for meeting future water demands in a region not accustomed to scarcity

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C. — Aug. 14, 2014) – The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $2.2 million grant to a team led by Gregory Characklis of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Characklis and his team will develop innovative strategies for meeting future water demands in the Southeastern United States in a sustainable way.

 

Characklis is a professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the Center for Watershed Science and Management at the UNC Institute for the Environment.

 

The Southeastern United States, an area generally accustomed to abundant water supply, faces unprecedented water scarcity caused by global climate change, population growth, economic expansion and limits on the development of new sources.

 

This project will bring together experts in hydrology, economics and engineering, as well as local government and utility officials, to design water management strategies for regions like the Southeast that are facing new and acute water shortages. The strategies will be able adapt to changing conditions and different regions.

 

“Unlike water-scarce regions, such as the Western U.S., the infrastructure, legal and regulatory systems in the Southeast have developed in a manner that assumes an almost inexhaustible supply of water,” Characklis said.  “An entirely new water-management paradigm is required to accommodate this new regional reality.”

 

Characklis and his interdisciplinary team will develop models to analyze how climate change and land-use trends impact regional hydrology and how infrastructure and regulatory systems will need to adapt. This flexible approach will include the use of reservoirs, water reuse and conservation. Much of the work will be conducted in North Carolina’s Research Triangle area, with input from regional utilities and local governments.

 

UNC researchers from the Gillings School of Global Public Health, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute for the Environment and School of Government will participate in the project, along with collaborators from Cornell University and the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station.  From the latter, James Vose and David Wear, project leaders of the Center for Integrated Forest Science based in Raleigh, and John Coulston, supervisory research forester from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program, will provide expertise in land use, climate and hydrologic responses.

 

-Carolina-

 

 

Institute for the Environment website: http://www.ie.unc.edu/

Institute for the Environment contact: Katie Hall, (919) 962-0965, mchall@email.unc.edu