The creation of the Alabama Water Institute (AWI) demonstrated the commitment of The University of Alabama to be a premier research and education institution around water-related issues. AWI’s goal is to become a world-class interdisciplinary water research institute that develops path-breaking, holistic, and environmentally friendly solutions to ensure people and ecological systems in our community, state, nation and around the world are water secure with access to clean water and are resilient to extreme events. The University of Alabama is leading many efforts to enhance water quantity and quality management capabilities and ecological integrity, much of it focused through AWI’s current six affiliated centers:
Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research
Center for Freshwater Studies
Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies
Center for Water Quality Research
Remote Sensing Center
Global Water Security Center
Researchers at these centers support the campus in efforts to promote water research in areas of remote sensing, biodiversity of aquatic systems, water quality, water and wastewater treatment, groundwater assessment, flood and drought forecasting, hydro-informatics, and disaster planning and management. AWI partners with many agencies including NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, National Science Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Alabama Geological Survey. With these relationships, AWI will make existing centers better by encouraging effective multi-disciplinary collaboration and looking for opportunities to develop new water related centers.
To both carry out cutting edge and applied research and to train the next generation of scientists to provide actionable, novel solutions for a more water-secure world.
To be internationally recognized as a world-class, multidisciplinary water research institute that provides interdisciplinary knowledge and solutions for critical water problems and issues.
Why is Water Research Important?
Water is essential for all aspects of life – drinking, agriculture, ecological sustainment, power generation, and industrial production. Because water is foundational to our society, it is imperative adequate quality of water is accessible to all users while maintaining biodiverse ecosystems. Alarmingly, around the world (including our nation and states like Alabama), hundreds of millions of people still live without access to enough quality of water or their water supplies are threatened by floods, droughts, or infrastructure failures daily. With increased water demand to satisfy a larger population and uncertainty posed by variations and changes in the physical environment, many communities around the world are already experiencing water crises that are becoming even more detrimental to society, worsening the impacts of disease and poverty, exacerbating food and energy insecurity, declining ecological diversity, undermining economic growth, and fostering insecurity. There is a growing consensus that these types of water-related crises are going to become more widespread in the coming decades due to increasing water demand and decreasing water availability and quality. Water mitigation and adaptation require holistic science and data-based solutions.
The University of Alabama is in a unique position, as an R-1 research institution, to address these challenges to contribute to a healthier, safer and more prosperous world. AWI will serve as an incubator and facilitator for novel science that will foster science-informed policymaking and policy-informed research and development. Through these exchanges, we will build a research program that will lead the nation and globe in building a more secure world that would allow societies to better manage risks and become more resilient to future water disruptions.