University of Arizona engineers and recently delivered a mobile water treatment system to an off-the-grid school in a water-scarce Navajo community. The system, developed with local consulting firm Apex Applied Technology, is built into a refurbished operational school bus, which also houses a laboratory, adding an educational component.
“It’s a way to extend infrastructure to these communities,” said Bob Arnold, UA professor of chemical and environmental engineering and an expert in water purification and wastewater treatment systems.
The desert portion of the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona receives only 7 to 11 inches of rain per year. There is, however, plenty of groundwater, but it is high in salinity and contaminated with metals such as uranium, in some areas. According to Vicky Karanikola, UA adjunct professor in chemical and environmental engineering, this supply can -- if treated -- provide water to the Navajo Nation for many decades.