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Addressing Sustainable Water Supplies

Dr. Ronald Turco
Professor of Agronomy and Director, Purdue Water Community
Purdue University

Water is an essential resource for economic development, food security, industrial growth, and human well-being. The availability of a clean, plentiful, safe, and secure water source has been and will always be the most important concern for the humans. Many areas of the globe are confronted by major water shortage and water quality concerns and starting to assess supply. Purdue University is a recognized leader in the science and research of water resources, environmental and natural resources, agriculture, and education. Over the last few years we have brought together experts in social sciences, economics, hydrology, chemistry and microbiology as a watershed research group. The long-term goal of the effort is to use the Wabash River Watershed (WRW) as research platform and in doing so help re-establish the Wabash River as a healthy water body. In our work we look at the entire Wabash River watershed (85,500 km2 ) with 661 km (411 mi) of free running river and also intensively study a smaller subarea we have titled “the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash” (GBW.) The GBW covers 1,238 km2 (478 mi2) and includes nearly 3057 km (1,900 mi) of streams, drains, and tiles. This area includes the Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Battle Ground. In the WRW study we have developed an analysis methodology and demonstrate the significance of using holistic water resource analysis in determining issues related to water supply and reuse. In the GBW study we have established an instrumented field network that is allowing us determine the status of the water entering the river, if adjacent land use is altering water quality and to what degree can we actually measure the change. Both projects will be discussed in this presentation. Project contributors: S. Peel, M. Haas, J. Wiener, L. Nies, C. Jafvert L. Prokopy, L. Bowling and J. Frankenberger.

Biographical Information

Dr. Ronald F. Turco is a Professor in the Department of Agronomy, Director of the Indiana Water Resources Research Center and the Purdue Water Community. He has B.S. degrees from the University of Idaho in Bacteriology and Soil Science and a Ph. D. from Washington State University in Soil Microbiology. His research program covers four areas: understanding the fate of bacteria such as E. coli that are introduced to our soil and water resources and the role these processes play in such things as water and food contamination; developing a better predictive capacity to understand the environmental fate of manufactured nanomaterials (fullerenes, single wall carbon nanotubes and nanometals) in soil and water; developing a better understanding of the unintended consequences of using our soils resources for management practices such as biofuel production or waste application; and a long-term interest in the fate and degradation of organic materials introduced to soil and water. He has authored many articles and reports and has delivered numerous invited and volunteered presentations. He has also managed numerous large projects with support from DOE, USDA, NSF and EPA.