TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As global demand for water increases alongside a predicted decrease in water quality and availability, The University of Alabama is taking a leadership role to ensure the nation can better manage risks to the water supply and withstand future water disruptions.
The Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama recently approved the creation of the Global Water Security Center, which will be part of the Alabama Water Institute. The center’s mission is to provide decision makers with reliable information, ground-breaking research, applied scientific techniques and best practices so the impacts of the cycle of water distribution and management can be better understood, leading to appropriate action and response.
The organization of a center with affiliated faculty from across campus will situate researchers to interact and collaborate with senior scientists, analysts and policy decision-makers working on these issues in the international defense, meteorological, climatological, hydrological and hazard communities.
In alignment with the Alabama Water Institute’s mission to carry out cutting edge and applied research and to train the next generation of scientists to provide actionable, novel solutions for a more water-secure world, students will also benefit from the center’s focus through engaging in research, experiential learning and opening career opportunities. Along with student research assistants funded through external grants and contracts, the center is expected to impact hundreds of UA students in water-related undergraduate and graduate degree academic programs across campus.
“The Global Water Security Center extends academic research into the realm of operations and will enable The University of Alabama to be at the forefront of predicting how changes in water security impact the geopolitical sphere,” said Scott Rayder, executive director of the Alabama Water Institute. “This ability to see water in a strategic context will provide planners in government and the private sector with a new range of tools to enhance security and help communities better serve their citizens.”
Mike Gremillion, an experienced weather professional in the military and intelligence communities, will lead the Global Water Security Center while continuing as deputy director of the Alabama Water Institute. Gremillion joined UA in 2020 after more than 27 years of providing scientific leadership and expertise for national security environmental support under the U.S. Department of Defense. His last military assignment was senior meteorology and oceanography officer for National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
“Water is essential for all aspects of life,” Gremillion said. “It is a critical component of national and foreign policy objectives and is a driver of global health, economic development and quality of life.”
Despite numerous government reports and scientific studies highlighting the need to focus on the growing threats of the water-related crisis posed by a growing population coupled with environmental and physical changes, no comprehensive organization exists to provide the service UA can provide through the Global Water Security Center, he said.
“UA researchers will be at the leading-edge in providing transformative and strategic information to understand threats to water security and identifying opportunities to address the interconnected challenges to water and environmental stability,” Gremillion said.