INFRASTRUCTURE

US universities team up to keep New York’s water clean

SOURCE: Shutterstock
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry together with Clarkson University will co-lead the Centre of Excellence to ensure the sustainability of New York's water resources.

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry and Clarkson University are working together in a research partnership to mitigate current and impending threats to New York’s water resource. 

The two institutions are co-leading the new Centre of Excellence in Healthy Water Solutions that will leverage their combined expertise to develop sustainable solutions for protecting and improving state waters.

The centre is currently requesting US$43 million in state funding and aims to connect public and private partners in collaborative research across local, state, national and international levels, creating one of the largest consortiums of water scientists in the country.

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“New York’s greatest natural resource, in abundance and quality, is water. This resource is only becoming more important in the face of the impacts of climate change.

“It is critical to the health and well-being of our communities and the state’s economic prosperity that we protect this resource,” said SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) Interim President, David Amberg.

With their respective research capabilities, ESF and Clarkson University aim to develop new and innovative solutions to tackle these water resource issues.

Through the center, they will work with state government agencies and affected municipalities to address problems related to emerging and traditional contaminants, and the aging water infrastructure.

Among others, scientists will investigate the presence of non-degradable chemical contaminants in water and how to solve their adverse impacts on New York’s water resources. This includes Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which exist in many every-day products.

They will develop early-warning systems to monitor, model, predict and avoid threats before they become issues, in addition to working on management practices and ecosystem design to improve the resilience of New York state’s water assets.

“Although ESF also has technologies to bring to bear on contaminants and waterways (it will also bring) its renowned experience and expertise in monitoring, natural solutions, and watershed ecosystem management to sort of fill out the overall picture,” Centre of Excellence co-director Chris Nomura of ESF said.

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“In the case of Clarkson, we’re able to bring our world-class technological and engineering expertise and our foundational science programs to bear on not only addressing the problems in detecting contaminants and emerging threats, but also remediating them,” said Clarkson University co-director Robin Hannigan. 

Nomura added that their joint-efforts will look into not only remediation efforts but also at how these initiatives impact the surrounding environment.

The collaborative research initiatives will bring meaningful solutions by addressing the full life cycle of these water resource issues. 

water resources are among one of the most important natural resources in New York
The CoE’s research initiatives will prove to bring positive solutions towards providing sustainable, clean and safe water for the state of New York. Source: Andrew Seaman/Unsplash.

State, as well as institutional leaders, are looking forward to working together to implement the centre’s research outputs into state policy initiatives. 

“We want to go across the state and ask and seek out what are the issues of concern in your localities, in your regions. We’re here to help. And I think it’s a bit of a different model to the Centers of Excellence in the past,” said Clarkson University President Anthony Collins.   

“This unique partnership between SUNY ESF and Clarkson University will develop practical and innovative solutions to complex problems like harmful algal blooms.

“The new Center of Excellence is uniquely positioned to revolutionise our understanding and management of aquatic systems for New York and the world,” added State Senator Rachel May, a SUNY ESF alumnus.

The Centres of Excellence are research initiatives administered through Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).

They are essentially collaborative venues for academic research communities and business sectors to develop and commercialise new technologies and innovations, promote private sector investments in emerging fields in the state, and create and expand technology-related businesses and employment.