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Leaders gather in Tucson to discuss water challenges and opportunities at University of Arizona’s WEST Center
In the race to secure a sustainable water future, leaders from The Dow Chemical Company, NASCAR, Richard Childress Racing (RCR), the University of Arizona and Pima County Wastewater Reclamation met in Tucson to discuss local water challenges and solutions to effectively address water scarcity.
Coinciding with World Water Day, which takes place March 22, the event brought together industry, business, government and academic representatives to explore how alliances and collaborations can further advance technology, processes and strategies that conserve, reclaim and renew resources. Attendees toured the University of Arizona’s Water and Energy Sustainable Technology (WEST) Center after hearing speeches by prominent national and local figures. They then met with researchers, professors and graduate students in a range of interactive research, analytic, character, sensory and wet labs.
“Innovation and collaboration are key to finding sustainable paths forward for society,” Neil Hawkins, Dow corporate vice president and chief sustainability officer, said. “Water in the Southwest is a great example of a significant challenge, but one where win-win-win solutions are possible if all the right stakeholders come together with a commitment to collaboration. Dow is pleased to work with University of Arizona, local leaders, and the NASCAR team to help deliver a more sustainable society.”
Austin Dillon, 2-time NASCAR champion, welcomed the crowd with an invigorating speech on water conservation. As an avid sportsman and outdoorsman, Dillon stressed the importance of water resources to individuals and communities alike –whether it be used to light up our cities, manufacture automobiles, and power our own bodies. He then unveiled the No. 3 Dow Chevrolet’s new World Water Day paint scheme. The car will compete in the Camping World 500 in Phoenix on March 19.
“I have always loved fishing, boating and being outdoors near the water,” Dillon said. “World Water Day reminds us that we need to do our part to conserve and recycle resources so that everyone can enjoy it.”
Providing the foundation for the event, the WEST Center brings together diverse groups to address the nation’s growing water and energy needs through research and technology. Dr. Kimberly Espy, senior vice president for research at the University of Arizona noted, “Since its inception, the WEST Center has been a hub for expert researchers across academia, government, and industry to collaboratively address a diverse set of grand challenges in sustainability. Through synergies with world-class companies, such as Dow, we’re able to tackle the water challenges in arid environments like our own Sonoran Desert and beyond.”
Co-located with the Pima County Water Reclamation Facility and adjacent to reclaimed water recharge basins and constructed wetlands, the WEST Center develops, evaluates, and demonstrates technologies that advance sustainable solutions, while also facilitating technology transfer between public utilities and the private sector.
Representatives from Pima County Wastewater Reclamation also spoke on their efforts to steward water resources throughout the community, and highlighted examples of technological advancements already being implemented.
“The Water Campus and WEST Center are truly unique facilities dedicated to making significant advancements in the water industry,” Jackson Jenkins, regional wastewater reclamation department director, said. “We have created the ideal incubator for water technologies through high level collaborations with academia and industry partners, like Dow. Living in a desert environment we know all too well how precious water can be and these partnerships will help ensure that the highest water quality is readily available when needed.”