University of Arizona Cross-border Water Technology Collaboration

EPA Grant Number: SU831828
Title: University of Arizona Cross-border Water Technology Collaboration
Investigators: Washburne, James
Current Investigators: Washburne, James , Boyle, Erin M , Brosnihan, Deirdre W , Fuhrig, Leland , Marburger, Candice , Schonauer, Kurt , Wahi, Arun , Zimmerland, Benjamin
Institution: University of Arizona
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 15, 2004 through September 14, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


We propose a partnership with the Northern Sonora community of El Ejido del Desierto, MX (pop. ~2500) to improve their drinking water quality. This collaborative effort is based on a ideas generated in graduate seminar course in Advanced Topics in Semi-arid Hydrology (HWR 696L) with input from one or more campus groups experienced in cross-border capacity building. The preliminary design concept is to evaluate point-of-use solar distillation technology to produce purified water that will dilute local groundwater, which has naturally high concentrations of arsenic. Equally important to this design concept is a community-based needs assessment, development and implementation approach that will be taken with the help of one or more campus-based collaborators. Preliminary discussions and letters of support have been secured from Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), an NSF science and technology center focused on the sustainable management and scientific understanding of semi-arid water resources, Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology’s (BARA) cross-border internship program, and the University of Arizona’s (UA) Water for People (WFP) organization. The following lists the points of information requested in the proposal:


(i) Access to clean drinking water is a basic human need that is not always available in rural communities. There are many possible sources of contamination, and one of the most prevalent is from low but unhealthy concentrations of naturally occurring metals, such as arsenic. While many treatment methods have been devised for this contaminant, very few are appropriate or sustainable in poor and rural settings. (ii) We propose a collaborative effort between UA students (who can help select appropriate technologies), cross-border action groups (who can foster community participation and implementation), and the communities themselves, whose quality of life will be improved. (iii) This challenge to rural residents’ water quality can be met by taking advantage of renewable solar energy throughout much of the Southwest and northern Mexico, by stakeholder participation in the process, and by adequate planning for the responsible management of any possible waste products. (iv) Funds will be allocated to the cross-border collaborators to conduct a follow-up survey and water quality testing will be done at regular intervals. (v) Students in this course and in collaborating programs will directly benefit from the practical application of basic concepts. The results will be more widely shared with the EPA and with other professional organizations, such as the American Geophysical Union.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, metals (arsenic), remediation, community-based, hydrology, southwest and Mexico, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, PHYSICAL ASPECTS, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Chemistry, Arsenic, Risk Assessments, Environmental Monitoring, Physical Processes, Water Pollutants, Drinking Water, monitoring, well water, exposure, arsenic monitoring, human exposure, human health, water treatment, drinking water treatment, contaminant removal, other - risk management

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report