Construction of a construction worker standing in a partially completed water treatment facility

Emerging contaminants, microplastics, excess nutrients, and limited water availability all are pressing 21st century challenges requiring new innovations in water treatment, reuse, and environmental biotechnologies. At UVM, CEE researchers and colleagues are pursuing both breakthroughs in fundamental water treatment and environmental biotechnologies as well as new approaches for applying optimal and sustainable practices in water reuse and waste management.


CEE faculty and student research in water treatment, reuse, and environmental biotechnologies addresses key needs in  drinking water treatment, filtration, emerging contaminants, groundwater remediation, wastewater resource recovery, material recovery and reuse, agricultural runoff management, water use efficiency, nanotechnology, solid and organic waste management (water quality implications), and microplastics.

Highlighted Research Projects & Initiatives

Water use efficiency

A water pipe with meter running through a farm field with plants growingImproving irrigation water use efficiency in vegetable and crop production is a high priority for agricultural producers as they face challenges of climate change and more frequent droughts. We are currently testing various approaches to irrigation scheduling, including sensor technologies, to improve water use efficiency. We have also measured irrigation withdrawals on multiple farms through the growing season and modeled water use efficiency using a water balance approach, comparing different crops and growing environments. Working with UVM Extension, researchers are also identifying appropriate soil moisture monitoring technology for farms in the Northeast.


CEE Faculty: Joshua Faulkner

Collaborating Institutions & Organizations: USDA-SARE, Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association


Agricultural Water Quality Management

Water quality monitoring and testing equipment on the edge of a farm fieldWater quality degradation from agricultural field runoff that contains excess nutrients is a pressing environmental challenge in Vermont and throughout the world. CEE researchers and collaborators study multiple treatment technologies employed at both the farmstead/production and edge of field areas. Working with UVM Extension and many other partners, we are designing and testing of novel denitrifying bioreactors, evaluating effect of best management practices (BMPs) on surface and subsurface water and nutrient fluxes, designing and testing phosphorus removal technologies, monitoring and modeling watershed hydrology and nutrient export from agricultural watersheds in the Lake Champlain Basin, and studying the effects of climate change on agricultural fields.


CEE Faculty: Joshua Faulkner, Eric Roy

UVM Collaborators: Stephanie Hurley, Carol Adair, Don Ross (Emeritus), Kristen Workman, Heather Darby, Jeff Sanders

Collaborating Institutions & Organizations: USDA-NRCS, Soil Health Institute, Newtrient LLC, USDA-ARS, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets



Research Topics

  • Drinking water treatment
  • Filtration
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Groundwater remediation
  • Wastewater resource recovery
  • Material recovery & reuse
  • Agricultural runoff management
  • Water use efficiency
  • Solid & organic waste management
  • Microplastics

Graduate Study in Water Treatment, Reuse, and Environmental Biotechnologies

Highlighted courses are listed below:

  • CE255 – Physical/Chemical Processes of Water/Wastewater Treatment
  • CE256 – Biological Processes of Water/Wastewater Treatment
  • NR 288 - Ecological Design and Living Technologies
  • NR 289 - Advanced Ecological Design Studio
  • CE395 – Environmental Chemical Dynamics
  • CE395 – Wastewater Epidemiology