Students are deeply involved in research and work closely with faculty. The Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program has an active research program with annual research expenditures of over $2,000,000. The EWRE Program maintains an extensive and modern laboratory of over 13,000 square feet. These analytical and computational resources support the Program's research efforts, directed along experimental and theoretical lines towards diverse problems in water and wastewater treatment, environmental chemistry and microbiology, groundwater and hazardous wastes, water resources, and air pollution control. Various categories of research are described below, however, there are no distinct lines between research areas. Faculty will often be involved in projects in more than one area. Current and recent research projects undertaken by the Program are listed on the following pages for each of the research areas.
Unit processes and operations for drinking water production are a dynamic research area in the program. The Program is especially well known for its strengths in the area of physical, chemical and biological treatment technologies for the purification of drinking water. (read more...)
The Program has been an innovator in wastewater treatment technology since its inception. The types of wastewaters studied have included municipal, industrial, and those classified as hazardous wastes. This work has involved elements of process performance, design, operation and monitoring. (read more...)
Faculty in the Program conduct research to characterize subsurface pollution and to understand the nature of bioremediation in contaminated soils, providing expertise in groundwater modeling, biological processes in the subsurface, and transport of particles and colloids in the subsurface. Faculty members have extensive field drilling and sampling experience, capabilities for innovative chemical and biological analysis in the laboratory, and have worked at numerous contaminated groundwater sites. (read more...)
Members of the faculty have made important contributions to the field of environmental chemistry, especially in the areas of oxidation and complexation reactions in homogeneous aqueous systems, chemical analysis of organic oxidation byproducts in water, and measurement of VOC emissions from hazardous waste sites and POTWs. (read more...)
The Group has expertise in the areas of water resources management, surface water hydrology, surface water quality modeling using satellite imagery and GIS, groundwater hydrology, environmental fluid mechanics, global water issues, drought planning, climate change impacts, shared vision modeling, and decision support systems. (read more...)
Water Resources Engineering, Planning and Management
Program faculty have conducted research on a variety of aspects relating to the quantity and quality of water. Research in the area of hydrologic studies has concentrated on natural processes and how knowledge of those processes can be incorporated into sound management policy that will foster improved environmental quality, reduce flood hazards, and address long-term hydrologic sustainability issues. Applications have included methods for design of groundwater remediation systems, and risk based strategies for prioritizing groundwater cleanups. Another research focus is on the impact of land use on surface water quality and the magnitude of flood events. Water quality modeling studies undertaken by faculty members have had important implications to water resources management. These include the fate and transport of active chlorine from disinfected wastewater discharges, the use of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) as an environmentally beneficial road salt alternative, and land use management for reservoir water quality control. Ongoing projects include analysis of flow and contaminant transport at stream/aquifer boundaries, strategies for designing and monitoring stormwater flows, impacts of urbanization on flood frequency and severity, and identification of pathogenic contamination source-areas.
Faculty in the program have been involved in development and use of a wide variety of mathematical models for water related problems. Numerical models for groundwater flow and solute transport have been constructed and used to support analysis at major groundwater contamination sites. Research into the efficacy of air sparging for groundwater remediation has been enhanced by the use of complex numerical models. Models have been used to study the growth of biofilms for application to both natural and engineered systems. Numerical models have been constructed of the response of coastal streams and flood plains to tidal forcing. Models of reservoir hydrodynamics and water quality have been applied to coliform and natural organic matter modeling for large drinking water reservoirs. Groundwater simulation models have been combined with optimization techniques to produce powerful tools for use by practitioners in the management of groundwater systems. A product of this research is a software package which is now distributed to the practitioner community through a web site (read more...).
Faculty in the Environmental Engineering Program have worked closely with those in the Geotechnical Engineering Program in the Department on a number of research efforts. Research has included both laboratory and field studies of groundwater contaminant transport and reaction in the natural environment. Topics have included leaky underground storage tanks and appropriate assessment protocol, analysis of spilled aviation fuel plumes, and the impact of alternative highway deicers.