U-M CEE students and faculty will assist with operating a new Ann Arbor pilot water plant that opens this summer. CEE, in collaboration with the City and AECOM–an engineering consulting firm–will handle research and operate the facility, which is being constructed adjacent to Ann Arbor’s current water treatment plant. The goal of the pilot plant is to test new water treatment technologies for removing emerging contaminants, including PFAS, Cryptosporidium and dioxane.
CEE Assistant Prof. Alex Szczuka will be the lead of the U-M team. Prof. Lut Raskin, the Altarum/Erim Russell O’Neal Professor and Vernon L. Snoeyink Distinguished University Professor, and Curt Wolf, the managing director of the Urban Collaboratory, are additional faculty members working on the project. “In the summer of 2022, Ann Arbor contacted us and wanted U-M to be involved,” Prof Szczuka said. “This partnership is a natural continuation of the long-term collaboration between CEE and the Ann Arbor water treatment plant. We’re excited for our students to have the opportunity to conduct research that is not just in our lab, but that takes place in fully operational, real-world conditions.”
CEE students will be involved throughout the pilot process. A recent CEE graduate will be overseeing many of the operations and will be assisted by a PhD student, who will lead the experiments, set up challenge tests and conduct analyses of the results. Undergraduate and master’s students will also be recruited to assist with research. Prof. Szczuka added that AECOM will be directing the entire project in conjunction with U-M CEE, but noted that the students will be working with engineering professionals to gather water samples, run lab tests, collect data and complete reporting and analysis. “This is an incredible opportunity that our students will have to partner with professional engineers and the city, one-on-one, on a project that will ultimately benefit the community.” Many of the issues facing the City of Ann Arbor with emerging contaminants in source water from the Huron River and city groundwater wells are common to other communities throughout the state. This will be an exciting opportunity to leverage U-M’s expertise to help design and optimize treatment approaches.
The pilot plant is expected to be ready in May and will start operation by June. The entire project will last approximately a year and will include preparing reports during the summer of 2024.