Research Areas

The Water Center focuses on applied research--making the work of the academic community useful and relevant to solving real world problems. We take an interdisciplinary approach that bridges the divide between the diverse fields of engineering, economics, public health, the law, biology, and the social sciences.

How can the world provide clean water and sanitation to the hundreds of millions of people who lack it? What new technologies are needed in addressing the world’s water security and sanitation challenges? What systems can be developed to halt the spread of waterborne diseases? Solutions to these complex questions will require a broad, multi-faceted approach. We strive to develop new ways of understanding global water challenges, to innovate new technologies, and to work to inform and advocate for public policies that reflect the best thinking of the twenty-first century.


We use the globally agreed upon targets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 as a framework for our research.

Water and sanitation are at the very core of sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet. SDG 6 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.

Drinking water, sanitation, and public health

By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.

Protecting water quality

By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Efficient water use

By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Water management system resilience

By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate.

Restoring ecosystems

By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

Climate and Water Security

By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.