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Sustainable management of clean fresh water

Modified: March 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm •  Published: March 22, 2013

Oklahoma historians know that the climb out of the Dust Bowl included cooperation on many levels. Conservation experts taught farming practices that protect both soil and water. Farmers rotated crops and implemented new plowing methods. Public works dollars financed ponds and reservoirs to store water through dry periods.

World Water Day has been held every year on March 22 since 1993. Its intent is to focus the world's attention on the sustainable management of clean, fresh water necessary for life. This year's theme is “cooperation.” Cooperation in Oklahoma and the United States has often resulted in efficiency of effort. In developing countries, cooperation can also mean peace among various and competing interests, tribes and nations.

The WaTER (Water Technologies for Emerging Regions) Center at the University of Oklahoma works with charitable organizations, village water committees, government officials and locally owned businesses to solve complex water problems in developing countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, Bolivia and Cambodia. The problems include mining-impacted waters, naturally occurring arsenic and excessive fluoride and the accurate prediction of droughts and flooding that are the result of climate variability. One of our graduate students, Zac Flamig, has taught hydrologic modeling courses in Kenya and Rwanda, where accurate flood prediction can save lives in both the near term (protection of people and properties) and long term (planning for migration and crop/food losses).

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