1. Urban Water Infrastructure

Urban watersheds are complex environments in which people live, work, and recreate.  They are subject to natural and anthropogenic inputs that alter ecosystem dynamics and affect water quality and human health.   The long-term environmental and economic sustainability of an urban area is dependent on understanding biogeochemical, hydrologic, and socio-political interactions.  Improved understanding of these coupled systems will enable informed decisions regarding engineering and policy solutions to manage built and natural urban environments.  In response to the need for greater understanding of water quality in urban systems, Carnegie Mellon University launched the Center for Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems (Water-Quest).  The goal of this center is to advance the scientific basis for decision-making in urban watersheds.   Water-Quest will involve several critical components: (1) primary research on environmental sources and fate of contaminants of concern in urban systems (e.g., pathogens, persistent toxicants), (2) development of necessary monitoring and modeling capabilities for urban watersheds, (3) development of policy and decision-making tools and models for improved management of water quality in urban systems, and (4) outreach and education to develop a citizenry ready for the challenges of managing urban water systems.   Located at Carnegie Mellon University in the heart of Pittsburgh, Water-Quest uses this urban area as a laboratory for research and development.  Dr. VanBriesen is the director of the Center for Water Quality in Urban Environmental Systems (Water QUEST).

Projects in Dr. VanBriesen’s group in the area of Urban Water Infrastructure include:

Nitrogen cycling in aging urban water and wastewater systems

Climate change adaptation for urban water infrastructure

Brominated disinfection-by product formation under varying source water conditions

Optimization of drinking water treatment and distribution

Modeling and assessing lead in drinking water