08:23 AM

Center based at Ohio State helping Ohio battle persistent water quality issues

Columbus, Ohio -- When summer arrives in Ohio, public and private conversations about water quality—or lack thereof—are not far behind. This summer is no different, with recent media coverage focusing on algal blooms in several prominent Ohio lakes and high nitrate levels in drinking water.

Based in The Ohio State College of Engineering, the Ohio Water Resources Center (Ohio WRC) is one of 54 Water Resources Research Institutes nationwide federally authorized by the Water Resources Research act to promote and fund research and outreach activities concentrated on common water issues of local and regional interest.

Since 2010, the Ohio WRC has directly funded nearly 20 projects and investigators that provided student education in areas directly related to nutrient runoff, waste water treatment, microcystin treatment, algae and nutrient tracking and water quality. The center emphasizes training the next generation of water experts, and through these projects, it has supported the education of more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students.

Earlier this year, the Ohio WRC granted a total of $150,000 to five projects led by researchers at Ohio State, Kent State University and the University of Cincinnati.

According to Ohio WRC Co-Director Linda Weavers, a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, the one-year projects target new investigators in the state.

“Relevant to issues currently being faced by the State of Ohio, these projects will investigate critical issues such as harmful algal blooms, water use in energy production, and improving energy efficiency in water distribution,” she said.

In addition to funding individual projects, the Ohio WRC facilitates external research by connecting nearly 300 university water researchers across the state through an extensive database. This led to the creation of a powerful alliance of statewide and regional research capabilities focused on addressing algal bloom and nutrient issues from a field-to-faucet perspective.

The Ohio WRC also is involved in a variety of education and outreach initiatives that target K-12 students, working professionals and the public.