Washington University in St. Louis has long been a leader in water research with world-class faculty in both the McKelvey School of Engineering and in the College of Arts & Sciences. To bring this research together and to promote additional collaboration, Zhen (Jason) He, an internationally recognized water researcher, will head the newly launched Center for Water Innovation (CWI).
The CWI will facilitate collaboration among the university’s water resources from various departments to address major water quality and water technology research questions. In addition, its member faculty will perform educational outreach to K-12 schools, promote water sustainability to the public, and assist area governmental and nonprofit organizations in making policies related to water and wastewater management.
“We expect that this will be a bridge to connect WashU water resources with industry, government agencies and investment companies,” said He, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering and a Fellow of the International Water Association.
Initially, research at CWI will focus on sustainable wastewater management, safe drinking water and the nexus of agriculture and water, all critical needs in research and practice and strengths of WashU faculty. The center aims to demonstrate the strength of the university’s researchers, create opportunities for collaborative proposals to federal funding agencies and to attract attention from potential industrial members.
In addition to showcasing the various aspects of water research at WashU, the center also will train students as scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to advance water research, technology and business, He said.
St. Louis has a long history in water innovation. It was the first American city to research filtration as a treatment option. In 1881, the American Water Works Association was founded on Washington University’s campus. The city’s Chain of Rocks Water Purification Plant was the world's largest water treatment and filtration facility when it opened in 1886 and was a key factor in reducing deaths from the city’s typhoid and cholera epidemics in 1903. It remains in use today.
WashU also plans to host the 10th International Water Association (IWA) Membrane Technology Conference & Exhibition for Water and Wastewater Treatment and Reuse in Summer 2023.