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Recycled water in Arizona staves off drought

BY Rebecca Jacobson  May 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM EST

In the desert, water is more precious than gold. In the American Southwest, fresh water sources are strained as climate change brings more intense heat waves and the population booms. To make their drinkable water last, engineers in Tucson, Arizona are working on recycling waste water.

“In the city of Tucson, the long term projections are we’ll be using up our potable supply, our ‘fresh water’, in 2030 or so,” said Kevin Lansey, a civil engineer at the University of Arizona. “So we need to be able to transition to other sources.”

Treating and transporting waste water takes a lot of energy. Lansey is using mathematical models to redesign Tucson’s water system to integrate fresh water and recycled water effectively. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien has more on this story for the National Science Foundation’s series “Science Nation”.*

*For the record, the National Science Foundation is also an underwriter of the NewsHour.