What is the Water Research Consortium?

The Confluence Water Research Consortium is a network platform for connecting researchers affiliated with member organizations to develop sustainable, innovative, environmental technologies in response to today's regional, national and global water challenges.

Types of support offered by WRC: basic and applied research, technology development, problem solving, prototype testing, short courses and training, specialized consulting, workforce development.

Ecosystem:  Regional Water Utilities, Entrepreneurial Small Businesses, Large Businesses, Consulting Firms, Federal Laboratories, Federal Government Contractors, State and Local Government, Regulatory Agencies, Foundations.

Water Research Consortium Challenge

Water Research Consortium Grant Challenge Winner Award Notice

The goal of the Water Research Consortium Grant Challenge is to incentivize greater participation and support of faculty at regional universities in Confluence and the needs of its members.  The WRC Grant Challenge will be offered annually.  Focus areas for future competitions will be announced on the Confluence website and at the time of the grant challenge release.  This grant is made possible through the Confluence Innovation Grant Fund. 

The inaugural competition focused on the needs of regional water utility with the following identified research areas of interest:  1) novel predictive exposure models and Identification of at-risk communities, 2) development of real-time sensors to identify exposure sources, 3) development of sensors for personal exposure assessment, and 4) novel outreach, education, and community engagement concepts. 

The inaugural WRC grant challenge competition generated 5 proposals from three universities:   Northern Kentucky University, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Dayton.  Following a peer review process that included an oral presentation by the lead PIs of each of the 5 teams at a previous Confluence Connects event, the winner is Dr. Kirsten Schwarz of Northern Kentucky University. 

The $15,000 WRC Challenge Grant will support an urban watershed project lead by Northern Kentucky University’s Ecological Stewardship Institute. The project, Strategic Depaving, will design green infrastructure for vacant lots in the Buena Vista neighborhood of Newport, KY in partnership with community members, non-profits, city officials and planners. This project addresses a critical gap regarding the long-term sustainability of green infrastructure in urban watershed management – the role of the community in shaping and creating solutions to protecting urban water resources.   

Strategic Depaving is a highly interdisciplinary project that includes faculty from several disciplines, student scholars, NKU's Center for Civic Engagement, and NKU's STEM Center.  The lead PI, Dr. Schwarz, is an associate professor in the Biology Department and director of NKU's Ecological Stewardship Institute. She has experience conducting community-engaged research in Baltimore, MD, Sacramento, CA, and northern Kentucky.  She was recently named a 2018-2019 Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow on Food and Water Security through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).