Wednesday, June 12, 2024

CU Boulder to investigate improving water quality infrastructure in Colorado

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The University of Colorado Boulder will soon find ways to improve water quality and water infrastructure in Colorado under the direction of the state.

Colorado Senate Bill 24-037, signed into law May 24, directs CU Boulder and Colorado State University to work directly with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The goal is to identify new pathways to restore rivers and watersheds in Colorado, improve water quality and reduce emissions associated with water and wastewater treatment.

“It has been a rewarding experience to propose this idea and work with Senator (Cleave) Simpson (R-District 6) and other elected representatives and state officials in Colorado to bring it to life, and we’re looking forward to what this could mean for Colorado’s water and air,” Evan Thomas, director of CU Boulder’s Mortenson Center in Global Engineering & Resilience, said in a release.

During the next two years, this team will develop up to three pilot projects in collaboration with communities and utilities to demonstrate the use of green infrastructure and green financing mechanisms. This work will include actively restoring watersheds using public and private sector investment, including the purchase of carbon credits based on avoided electricity demand from water treatment.

Thomas is also leading a $950,000 congressionally mandated, NASA-funded research project to monitor water quality and understand the impact of wildfires on the Yampa and Cache la Poudre rivers in Colorado.

Thomas and his team have been utilizing sensors to monitor these rivers. With the new funding, these sensors will continue to collect data for at least another year. The objective is to identify contamination sources and develop effective, nature-based solutions.

“The idea is that we can develop technologies that help communities and help the state better manage watersheds so that we can restore watersheds, we can restore land cost-effectively and in a way that benefits more people,” Thomas said.

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