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World renowned soil scientist to speak at DRI about innovation in water resources

Dialogue to focus on expanding ground water table, water resources and water use efficiency

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2013

LAS VEGAS – Dr. Rien Van Genuchten, a renowned scientist in the field of soil hydrology, will be working with DRI scientists to address critical Southern Nevada water issues at the Desert Research Institute. Dr. Van Genuchten will be traveling from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Las Vegas to participate in discussions on how to determine water flow between land surface to the water table and any contaminants that may travel with this water to shallow aquifers on Tuesday, April 23rd starting at 2:30 p.m.

This topic area is particularly mindful to Southern Nevadan’s as concerns about water resource depletion have been on the forefront of priorities for local water authorities. Science and innovation can help develop solutions to these many concerns relative to arid climates.

“Southern Nevada is facing enormous challenges in terms of sustainable development and optimal use of available water resources,” Dr. Van Genuchten said. “This means we have to do more with less water. For Southern Nevada this means increasing water use efficiency in agricultural operations as well as in urban areas.”

Van Genuchten has worked in the field of soil hydrology for 35 years dedicating a large portion of his work at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, CA. Dr. Van Genuchten has established a long-term relationship with DRI in developing solutions for subsurface water flow and hopes to continue this mission in the years to come.

“This is a unique opportunity to connect with someone in the field of soil hydrology to address various types of problems in soil physics and hydrology,” said Dr. Markus Berli, a soil scientist at DRI. “In relation to water research, we’re hoping to reach a broader audience and having an accomplished scientist such as Dr. Van Genuchten is one way to achieve this.”

The visit is part of a larger collaboration from the $20 million Maki Endowment at DRI designed to help with water-resource programs in Southern Nevada. “DRI will be bringing world-renowned scientists in the field of water research to work with faculty to help with Southern Nevada water concerns,” said Dr. Jim Thomas, DRI’s Hydrologic Sciences Director. “We’re just starting the program and Dr. Van Genuchten is the first scientist to work with DRI Scientists as part of this project.”

This is Van Genuchten’s second of many visits to DRI to interested stakeholders in water management including university scientists and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Van Genuchten says many of the water scarcity concerns facing this region are similar to other arid and semi-arid parts of the world. The concern over scarcity, he says goes back to rapidly declining fresh water resources and an increasing worldwide population.

“Increasing water use efficiency and facilitating water reuse (both agricultural and municipal waste water) is critical to get the most out of the limited amount of fresh water we have,” Van Genuchten said.

Dr. Van Genuchten will be back in September to work with DRI scientists, stakeholders and agencies that are working with water management and conservation concerns throughout the state.

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