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UA opens new water research facility

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 19:19:31-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A new multi-million dollar research center opened Friday that will help University of Arizona students and researchers solve problems related to water and energy use. 

The Water & Energy Sustainable Technology center, or WEST Center, will give researchers the chance to test out new technology in a full-scale capacity. 
Pima County built the $5.5 million facility that's largely composed of lab space and will also include a small scale water system.
"When someone has a new discovery and they want to actually test it in the real world, we have that capability here with this facility attached to Pima County's full scale system," said Shane Snyder, co-director of the WEST Center and a professor in the UA Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. "So we can actually put things through a test bed and give real results." 
The WEST Center is located at Pima County's water campus near I-10 and El Camino del Cerro, next to the new water reclamation facility. Because of it's proximity to county labs, Pima County will also benefit from having UA researchers next door. 
"It's really exciting to have the UA research facility of this caliber so close on hand that we could turn to them if we have questions," said Barbara Escobar, laboratory director for the Pima County Laboratory. "We've actually done analyses for them as well so it's already a collaboration."
A key area of research at this center will be looking at how to convert wastewater into pure drinking water, something happening in other parts of the country and could one day be a part of our everyday lives.
"Our region is experiencing a tremendous drought in the Colorado River and that has economic impacts, social impacts to our community," said Snyder. "So for our survival, it's important that we have a water security program. Water reuse is one of the only ways to expand our limited resources." 
Twelve large companies have invested in the center, including SC Johnson. These companies will use the center and its researchers to test out the latest in water technology.