The UA Initiates a Wave of Change to Tackle Water Scarcity


Scarcity of clean water is a tremendous concern facing large cities and semi-arid regions of the Americas. Without a sustainable source of potable water, economic development and wellbeing of individuals is at risk. The University of Arizona recognizes this grand challenge and is taking action to address the technical issues of recycling industrial and municipal wastewater as clean, potable water.

As a result, approximately 100 leading engineers and scientists from across the Americas gathered in Recife, Brazil from May 17 – 19, 2017, to develop a group of university and industrial partners to collaborate on water reuse technologies.

“The project is an important first step to creating Pan American networks collaborating on studying and implementing water reuse,” said Jim A. Field, assistant dean of graduate education, College of Engineering and full professor, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the UA.

The workshop was born from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Fund, a partnership between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Led by Field, the UA was awarded the grant to develop a team of partners from North and South America to create innovative solutions for water reuse.

During the workshop in Recife, researchers gathered with support from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, a prominent public university in Brazil. The experts discussed advanced water treatment technologies, specific water contaminants, and monitoring toxicity in water. A special session funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences detailed the reuse of water from mining.

“An important outcome of the project was to start a Pan American higher education research and training cluster that would promote the mobility of students and professors working on water reuse,” said Field.

The partners agreed that training young professionals to develop water reuse solutions requires an approach with representatives from several countries. The latest workshop in Brazil was designed to unite partners who can generate global solutions for generations to come.

The meeting also represented the UA’s rich history with Brazil, a country that has served as a critical partner for more than 50 years. The UA currently has nearly 200 alumni living in Brazil and eight active, institutional partnerships.

For more information about water reuse and the workshop, please visit

Photo from left to right: Lourdinha Florencio and Mario Kato, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco; Jim A. Field, University of Arizona; Ansio Dourado, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco; Mike Proctor, University of Arizona (retired)