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Home About Welcome From the Director


With the mission of achieving water security for all, the U Water Center seeks to deliver solutions for sustainable and resilient water systems in Utah while also addressing global problems related to access to clean water and sanitation--two of the most pressing development challenges facing the world today. The number of people in the world without access to safe drinking water is approaching one billion, and more children die from preventable water-borne diseases than any other cause.

The potential of much of humanity is being stunted by issues related to water and sanitation.

We are motivated by a belief that water challenges are surmountable, but the solutions will require a new kind of collaboration rooted in sustainable Communities of Practice--academic institutions, industries, NGOs, governments, and local communities working together. Our approach is to serve as a hub and catalyst for this type of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Issues of water are complex and must be approached through the lens of multiple disciplines or specialties. At the U Water Center, we facilitate dialogue between engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, humanists, social scientists and others in search of new ideas, insights, and innovations. This collaborative effort makes our research more useful and relevant in developing new ways of thinking about world's water challenges. It also informs how we might create effective Communities of Practice capable of meeting these challenges.

The University of Utah is in a unique position to serve as a leader in global issues of water and sanitation. The U is home to world-class centers and institutes with strong water research spurred by a diverse and passionate faculty. Our community is also a product of geography. Utah is the second driest state in the U.S. The history of our region is a lesson of learning to live within the limitations of water and developing innovative systems and technologies that have allowed a thriving society to be built in an arid landscape.

The best approach to any sustainable development program doesn’t come from the outside-in but works to empower individuals to solve the challenges facing their own local communities. That is why a central goal of the U Water Center is building up the capacity of people, and investing in strong and effective local institutions. Our Center serves as an incubator of ideas, and we strive to create research initiatives, training programs, new technologies and systems, and curriculum. But, in the end, our goal is to provide communities in Utah and around the world with the knowledge to build a future where access to clean water no longer inhibits the fulfillment of human potential.

Steve Burian, Director