Patel Center To Host International Water Managers

TAMPA (May 28, 2009) – Florida’s water systems will become a living classroom for water managers from such far-flung places as the Sudan, Egypt and Bolivia June 1-2 in the third year of the University of South Florida’s partnership with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education (Delft, The Netherlands), through the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.


Twenty students and two professors from Asian, African and Latin American countries will begin the two-week seminar in Florida, meeting with local water experts and studying water management infrastructure, such as the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant. The group also will travel to the Everglades and West Palm Beach, the headquarters of the South Florida Water Management District.


The students are midlevel water managers from Asian, African, and Latin American countries, including: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. They will be led by IHE professors Biswa Bhattacharya and Dimitri P. Solomatine.


The theme of the Tampa Bay portion of the course is “Sustainable Water Resources Management through Alternative Water Supplies” and will be led by Daniel Yeh, a Patel Research Fellow and faculty member in Civil & Environmental Engineering.  Students will learn about alternative water supplies, protecting ground water resources and will examine how the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant, the largest facility of its kind in North America, provides a steady supply of water to the region during a time of drought, Yeh said.  The group will also travel to Pinellas County to study one of the nation’s leading wastewater recycling systems.


“Forming partnerships and exchanging knowledge with our international colleagues is extremely important for America to remain a leader in this globalizing world,” Yeh said. “We are extremely glad to be hosting the visit by the IHE Hydroinformatics team, and showing our international visitors our own unique water management strategies and infrastructure in the Tampa Bay region.”


USF is the only university in the U.S. that has an existing memorandum of understanding with UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education to pursue opportunities to collaborate on research and education.  Currently, a group of six USF students are in Delft for a 10-week research program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, on sustainable water technologies.


While residents of the Tampa Bay Region may live a world away from the international students home countries, they share a common challenge of a worldwide water shortage that left unchecked will only get worse as the world’s population grows and the global climate changes. The global water shortage is particularly acute for residents in coastal urban areas, the United Nations reported in its most recent World Water Development Report.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.