The ability to meet the global need for an adequate water supply will come from new scientific insights that span traditional disciplines and from innovative policy based on that science. Global water-research agendas have begun to address needs in the various elements of science, engineering, technology, and policy—drought and flood initiatives associated with climate variability, mitigation of water-related disasters, enhancement of water quality, emerging contaminants, interactions between water and food security, water and human settlements, groundwater sustainability, advanced water-treatment technologies, and ecohydrology. Related cross-cutting issues include the building of research and technology capacity, education, governance, and international relationships associated with water.
In addition to being driven by evolving water-quality problems, water-policy change is likely required to respond to tightened public budgets and increased concerns about efficiency in water-quality regulation (Stoner 2011). For example, water-pollution control in agriculture, a leading cause of non—point-source pollution problems in the United States, has been pursued largely through voluntary compliance strategies supplemented by public assistance through the adoption of pollution control practices. Reduced federal and state budgets may require significant policy innovations if water-quality goals are to be achieved with reduced financial support (Shortle et al. 2011).
Water Technology and Infrastructure Research
Monitoring technology is a vital component of water science. Emerging concerns about contaminants have appeared dramatically (for example, the outbreak of Cryptosporidium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mac Kenzie et al. 1994) and resulted in the need for tools to be developed quickly or have arisen via advances in analytic capabilities (for example, identification of pharmaceuticals in the water supply). (See Chapter 3 for a discussion of these tools.) Although the health effects of some contaminants are clear, in most cases there are a host of reasons why the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act have resulted in a limited record of accomplishments. Some of those reasons include, low concentrations found in water, specific limitations of the methods for pathogen recovery and viability assessment, failure to understand whether ingestion or inhalation pathways are important, and inability to reconcile ecologic risks and human health risks. The inadequate investment in scientific inquiry associated with sources, transport, and fate of contaminants has led to much uncertainty about the most effective risk-reduction management approaches.
Advances in other fields have had important impacts on water science. Nanomaterials, discussed further in Chapters 3 and 4, are a case in point. Although nanomaterials have the opportunity to support novel water-treatment approaches and more efficient disinfection, there is heightened concern about nanoparticles as a contaminant and about the inability to measure and monitor their fate. Nonetheless, nanomaterials may play a role in “tunable” reactive