Climate change, population growth and increasing freshwater demands are straining our agricultural water supplies and we’re running out of water to grow food. The CONSERVE Center of Excellence, led by Dr. Amy R. Sapkota at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, is leading the effort to develop and adopt safe, alternative solutions to global water shortages, including the use of non-traditional irrigation water sources.
In a special issue of the journal Environmental Research, Dr. Sapkota and team members from her U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-funded center present 15 research articles that address how we can move the science of water reuse forward to achieve water and food security and protect public health in a changing climate.
Notable findings include: groundwater levels in the Mid-Atlantic region have declined over the last 15 years; negative perceptions are the biggest barriers to the acceptance of non-traditional irrigation water sources; and zero-valent iron sand filtration is a promising treatment technology that can reduce multiple contaminants in reused water.
Beyond this compilation of research papers, the CONSERVE team is partnering with farmers and vulnerable communities, in Maryland and across the globe, to facilitate safe water reuse.
Among their local initiatives is a collaboration with Hood College and the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs in Maryland, where vulnerable families are being provided with healthy food from a community garden irrigated with rooftop-harvested rainwater.
Through building relationships with communities in food insecure countries and areas like Ethiopia, Nepal and the West Bank, CONSERVE is translating the research into successful methods for growing more food with less water.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 20