Cameron Yong/Highlander
Cameron Yong/Highlander

Researchers from UCR and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem were awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a two-year study aimed at maximizing the use of treated municipal wastewater in agriculture. The study seeks to curtail the devastating effects of the state drought and serves as a response to Governor Jerry Brown’s recent mandatory water restrictions.

With a specialization in water pollution and salinity, UCR associate professor of environmental economics and policy Kurt Schwabe is co-leader of the research team, “Enhanced Resilience of Local Agricultural Water Supplies through Reuse of Municipal and Agricultural Water: A Dynamic Economic Analysis.”

Schwabe and his partner David Jassby, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, will investigate efficient ways to balance the increasing costs of and techniques used for water treatment while determining its impact on crop yield.

The team plans to help local water agencies find cost-efficient techniques for treating wastewater in processing plants.

“Our hope is that wastewater utilities can engineer their treatment trains to meet the demands of farmers so we can better reuse wastewater in a way that is cost-effective, rather than send it to the ocean,” Jassby said in a press release. “In the long term, we hope we will be able to optimize wastewater treatment processes so they are better matched to the agricultural end uses of the water. To the best of our knowledge, no one is looking at this kind of model.”