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About WaTER Center

Compelling Need: The Worldwatch Institute estimates that over 3.5 million people, mostly children, die from water-related illnesses each year; roughly 1.1 billion people (nearly one sixth of the world’s population) do not have access to an improved source of drinking water; nearly 2.5 billion do not have adequate sanitation and about 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25/day

The ramifications of these staggering numbers are significant. For example sick children and young girls are saddled with fetching water cannot go to school, HIV / AIDS treatment is counteracted by unsafe water, and sick adults are unable to engage in economic enterprise.

Thus, unsafe water and inadequate sanitation limit development and imprison people in the “bottom billion” – those living on less than one US dollar per day – and such dire poverty can lead to unrest, potential exploitation, and the endangerment of peace.

WaTER Center Mission

Developing countries are replete with interventions that fail because of:

  • use of inappropriate technologies
  • failure to consider cultural / human factors, and
  • failure to mobilize local entrepreneurs

The WaTER Center seeks to develop sustainable solutions that we believe are only possible through integrating technology, business and social understanding.

Mission: The mission of the WaTER Center is to promote peace by advancing health, education, and economic development through sustainable water and sanitation solutions for impoverished regions, using innovative teaching, research, and service / leadership activities.

Vision:  The vision of the WaTER Center is to pioneer integrated solutions that revolutionize development and adoption of sustainable water and sanitation technologies for developing countries through teaching, research and service innovations.  We will do this through integrating technological, business and human factors in pursuit of sustainable water and sanitation solutions.

Our Unique Capabilities

WaTER Directors in 2009

The University of Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to address the challenges of fresh water and sanitation for impoverished regions because of the state of Oklahoma's long history with water problems. In addition to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's, Oklahomans have experience with ground water impacted by naturally occurring arsenic and fluoride and surface water impacted by historic mining practices, all issues that plague developing countries. The OU school of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science has been conducting research in these areas for over 50 years. Furthermore, OU has an interdisciplinary group of faculty who are very committed to working together to address the global water problem. Our approach and capabilities are primarily built around the areas of assessment, development and sustainability.