New Water Resources Engineering Management Track at UTEP

Last Updated on July 31, 2015 at 11:10 am

Originally published July 17, 2015

By Lisa Y. Garibay

UTEP News Service

Addressing a critical area of conservation and quality of life both locally and globally, The University of Texas at El Paso will offer a Water Resources in Engineering Management (WREM) track within the Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering program starting fall 2015.

The track will prepare students for the in-demand field of understanding and managing resources in a water-scarce world. It will be led by WREM Coordinator and Clinical Professor Ivonne Santiago, Ph.D., and Edmund Archuleta, director of water initiatives at UTEP.

UTEP Civil Engineering students studying advanced water treatment at an El Paso Water Utilities pilot plant operated by environmental corporation ARCADIS US. Photo courtesy of Ivonne Santiago.

UTEP Civil Engineering students studying advanced water treatment at an El Paso Water Utilities pilot plant operated by environmental corporation ARCADIS US. Photo courtesy of Ivonne Santiago.

“The long-term vision for this program is to prepare engineers to solve complex problems in an increasing water-short world and to establish UTEP as a preferred university to study water,” Archuleta said. “UTEP is already a well-known leader in water resources with a diversified research and teaching portfolio in desalination, reuse, advanced water treatment, sustainability and related topics. This degree will provide the student with the important engineering and management tools to work in various facets of either the private or public sector.”

Across the developing world there is a tremendous shortage of fresh water supplies that are free from pollution. The resources needed to develop these supplies continue to be woefully lacking. Moreover, there are rapid population growth areas in Asia, India, Africa, Mexico, Central and South America that will soon experience water shortage.

El Paso has successfully developed and implemented water conservation and supervision.

Given its geographic location in the Chihuahuan Desert and need for integrated water resources, the local region is perfectly situated for students to study and learn about the need for water sustainability.

“Water resources management is a critical need across the U.S. and the world,” said Richard Schoephoerster, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering. “El Paso and UTEP have developed unique expertise in this area, and this program will help to share our expertise and knowledge. I am very grateful for Ed Archuleta’s leadership and the effort of the faculty to get this program off the ground.”

Before joining UTEP, Archuleta was manager of the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board from 1989 to 2013, where he was responsible for all aspects of water, wastewater, reclaimed water service and storm water to the greater El Paso metropolitan area.

The oversight of water resources has become increasingly complex over the past two decades due to population growth, climate change, environmental laws and regulations, technological advances, droughts, floods and increasing competition for limited water supplies worldwide.

While there have been continuous education advances in addition to human resource development in this field, there is a need to better define the water resource curriculum to meet today’s challenges and expected future challenges so that water resources professionals not only have the necessary technical skills addressing present and future challenges, but also have a solid foundation in business, managerial and legal principles necessary to compete and become productive in a complex water world.

This is where UTEP is poised to lead the way by cultivating students for leadership when it comes to water.

Fundamentally, there is a much more vital reason why a program like this matters.

“Water is life,” Santiago said. “Every past, present and future human activity, every private or public enterprise, whether it is agriculture, energy, health or emerging technologies, all require consideration of water resources management. El Paso is at the forefront in conservation, innovation and technology for the recycle and reuse of water. We want to showcase what the city has done and continue developing the workforce to move forward as a leader in the nation in how to successfully manage water resources in a desert environment.”

Students interested in pursuing the track may visit http://ce.utep.edu/wrem/ or contact Santiago (915-747-8478 or isantiago@utep.edu) or Archuleta (915-747-5766 or egarchuleta@utep.edu) for more details.

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