U of U working to improve water infrastructure in Pakistan

Posted at 10:05 PM, Jun 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-21 00:05:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- One government study says more than 600 Pakistani children die each day from waterborne illness, and now students and faculty from the University of Utah are doing something to help.

The University of Utah’s engineering and technology department is working on a five-year project to help improve water security in one of the world's most water-stressed countries.

"The program is a partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan to establish a water center, a center for advanced studies in water,” said Steve Burian, who is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the U of U.

This water center, among other things, will use special equipment and technology to provide training from professionals that plan, design, build and maintain safe and resilient water systems.

The project will also focus efforts on the engineering side of irrigation, drainage and sanitation.

"So we will be directly involved with improving existing infrastructure systems and existing operations, existing policies,” Burian said. “So we will be very much involved with the now, but also training for the future."

The University of Utah is one of four universities sharing expert knowledge with Pakistan on different economic topics that can help improve the quality of life for those who live there.

Tariq Banuri, a professor of economics at the U of U, explains: "So we are the lead on water. There is Arizona State, which is the lead on energy, and UC Davis is the lead on food security and agriculture."

Due to the drought and rehabilitation of aging water infrastructure, Utah faces many similar water management issues as Pakistan. Burian believes that by helping Pakistan, we can also help ourselves.

“It's a major challenge, it's a major undertaking to provide clean water at a continuous basis,” Burian said.