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University of Arizona - Desert Research Unit

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United States of America
water conservation
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Recent and ongoing grants have supported studies on (1) fate of emerging trace organic contaminants, including endocrine disrupting compounds, during wastewater treatment, sludge digestion, soil aquifer treatment, river transport, aquifer transport, and land application of biosolids; (2) wastewater and storm water treatment in constructed wetlands; (3) efficacy of “smart” irrigation technologies; and (4) revegetation of disturbed areas such as Arizona farmlands that have been retired for water rights. One current project is identifying the sources of a trace organic contaminant (perfluorooctane sulfonate, PFOS) recently detected in the Tucson aquifer; effluent recharge along the Santa Cruz River is suspected to be an important source. Another recent project utilized bench-scale experiments to optimize conventional biological wastewater treatment processes for maximizing removal of endocrine disrupting compounds.  A White Paper was prepared in 2010 for The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with Northern Arizona University, on the biological impacts of emerging contaminants in wastewater effluent and treatment processes to reduce risk.

The DRU managed and conducted research at the Constructed Ecosystems Research Facility (CERF) for Pima County for 20 years. DRU has conducted field studies in residential landscapes and at municipal parks to evaluate “smart” irrigation control devices for reducing water use. Large-scale revegetation research is ongoing with sponsorships from Duke Energy North America and Sempra Energy; this program provides support for a PhD candidate in SNRE.