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Note from the Executive Director...
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Water Colleagues—
This version of NEWSTide will provide you with a brief synopsis of water-related research efforts at The University of Alabama over the past month and provides insights into some key areas where research is gaining value for the nation. We appreciate the feedback from colleagues and friends to date and hope the articles are of interest and timely. Finally, I want to thank my colleagues at The University of Alabama whose efforts make this newsletter possible.
With thanks,
Alabama Water Institute Names First Faculty Fellowship Recipients
photo collage of Dr. Lisa Davis, and Drs. Leigh Terry and Milad R. Esfahani
The Alabama Water Institute recently selected three faculty members from The University of Alabama as the inaugural fellows in the AWI Faculty Fellowship Program.

Dr. Lisa Davis, associate professor in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been named as the first Distinguished AWI Faculty Fellow. Drs. Leigh Terry and Milad R. Esfahani, assistant professors in the College of Engineering, are the first Early Career AWI Faculty Fellows.

The program recognizes UA faculty for outstanding research, extension and education programs that significantly advance UA’s interdisciplinary water-related communities of science.

Read more about the new AWI Faculty Fellows

New UA Center to Fill Need for Understanding Water Security

A new center focused on enhancing worldwide water security has been established as part of the Alabama Water Institute.

The Global Water Security Center, led by AWI Deputy Director Mike Gremillion, will allow The University of Alabama to take a leadership role in the managing risks to the water supply and withstand future water disruptions. The GWSC will provide decision makers with reliable information, ground-breaking research, applied scientific techniques and best practices so the impacts of the cycle of water distribution and management can be better understood, leading to appropriate action and response.

Read more about AWI’s Global Water Security Center

UA Research to Enhance Flood Resilience of Coastal Communities

photo of truck in hurricane flood
Researchers at The University of Alabama are working to help coastal communities prepare for flooding from tropical storms and hurricanes thanks to a $2.84 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center.

The work, led by the Alabama Water Institute-affiliated Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research, will identify flooding hotspots along the Southeastern U.S. coastline and provide a way for emergency responders and local decision-makers to better prepare for flooding from tropical cyclones.

Read more about the flood resilience efforts
UA Developing Leading-Edge Radar System for Critical Water Information
A doctorate student in aerospace engineering, works with the drone before a test flight
Researchers at The University of Alabama are using radar-equipped drones to determine how much water is stored below a visible surface of either soil or snow.
Engineers at UA’s Remote Sensing Center, part of the Alabama Water Institute, have shrunk down the radar technology that was once mounted on large planes and trucks so they can fit into aerial drones. This allows them to get closer to the ground for fine-scale measurements, which can help decision makers better determine how to manage water resources. The information collected and analyzed by the UA researchers will feed into hydrological models such as the National Water Model maintained by the NOAA through the National Water Center, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Read more about the drone technology

UA CyberSeed Program Funds More Campus Research

photo of hands on a keyboard
The Alabama Water Institute is benefiting from a pilot seed-funding program from The University of Alabama’s Office for Research and Economic Development.

AWI’s share of the funding, part of the UA Cyber Initiative’s Cyberseed program, will allow affiliated faculty members to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to reduce the amount of energy required to desalinate water that is much saltier than seawater. This project will transform the utilization of nontraditional water sources that are not rivers, lakes and oceans into potential sources of potable water, alleviating water stress seen in many areas around the world.

Read more about the UA Cyberseed program
Around Alabama ...
Generic Salinity Meter with Temperature, Water Quality Tester on a beach
EPA Announces $259,000 Grant for Beach Water Quality in Alabama

The Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded Alabama $259,000 in grant funding to monitor the quality of beach water and to enhance public notification programs.

The grant is part of $1.8 million authorized by the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health, or BEACH, Act for six southeastern coastal states to help with monitoring bacteria levels and notifying the public about health risks.

Read more about the grant here

Lead Testing of Alabama Public School Drinking Water
to Resume
photo of fountain water going down drain
As Alabama public schools return to in-person instruction this fall, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Alabama Department of Education will resume testing for lead in drinking water.

State officials want to make sure students and employees maintain access to clean drinking water inside the schools. The two agencies partnered together in 2017 in a deal to train school personnel to collect drinking water and send the samples to state labs for testing to make sure lead is not reaching harmful levels. ADEM received a $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the tests this year.

Read more about the lead testing
U.S. Water News
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Colonial Hack Reveals Major Threats to Water Sector
The recent cyberattack on the Colonial fuel pipeline has experts fearing a fast-growing and evolving threat on the nation’s water sector. Hackers are increasingly using ransomware to steal and encrypt data from utilities and companies, then threaten to leak that information or block access until a ransom is paid.

The growing cyber threats continue to draw attention at the highest levels of government and on Capitol Hill. The Biden administration recently said it wants to beef up cybersecurity efforts and provide money for specific provisions for the water sector.

Read more about the potential security risks

NOAA: Average-sized ‘Dead Zone’ Likely Off Louisiana
The Gulf of Mexico is home to an average “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A dead zone is an area of water where marine animals have trouble receiving oxygen.

Calm weather allows water from the Mississippi River to form a layer above the Gulf’s salt water. Fertilizer and other nutrients carried downriver feed algae, which die and then decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen essential for marine life. The dead zone could shrink if the waters and oxygen are stirred up by a hurricane or tropical storm.

Read more about the dead zone
Podcast Art

AWI Podcasts Highlight
Water Research Faculty and Efforts

The Alabama Water Institute created the AWI Podcast as a way to introduce our affiliated faculty members and students, to help showcase their work and to show how their research is helping to improve every aspect of water across all walks of life.

There are one-on-one interviews with our researchers, but also some of their public talks at workshops and conferences. Topics have included hurricanes and coastal response, wastewater management, helping citizens in rural areas gain access to clean water, chemical effects on fish behavior and telling the history of streamflow before written records.

New interviews are added often and can be accessed by searching for “Alabama Water Institute” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher. Each episode is also available at
AWI Twitter
AWI Instagram
AWI LinkedIn
AWI Facebook page
AWI YouTube channel
AWI Website
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Alabama Water Institute
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Alabama Water Institute · The University of Alabama/Alabama Water Institute · Box 870206, Cyber Hall · Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0206 · USA

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