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Experts weigh in on water issues

Experts from around the country met in Idaho Falls on Tuesday to discuss issues facing water supplies in the West.They talked about ways to accelerate science-based solutions and the next generation of water scientists.

“The Mountain West Water Institute is about building research collaborations,” said the institute’s director, Rich Rankin. “Some of the key issues and problems in the West include the future availability of water. Where are we going to have water and when?”

There’s not a natural resource on the planet much more important than water.”Management of groundwater systems is complicated and ever increasingly important issue,” said Dr. Mac McKee of the Utah Water Research Lab.

That “ever increasingly important issue” means part of the MWWI’s focus is collaborations with institutions like the Center for Advanced Energy Studies to develop the next generation of researchers to tackle scientific issues.”We’re trying to get a pipeline started to provide a workforce for those industries as their developed in the future in the state and also in the region,” said Bill Rogers, CAES director.

The collaborations created by MWWI aim to create a common understanding among researchers tackling a surge of issues facing Western water.Rogers said education programs for scientists of the future is critical.

One of the most successful programs has been to engage teachers and help them develop curricula for students in that age group.Students who may go on to invent new ways to prevent water contamination in places like our own Snake River Aquifer.

For example, fracking, or breaking rock hydraulically, can introduce contaminants into the water table during the oil-drilling process.

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