Research Goals and Initiatives
The Oka’ Institute will create the opportunity to accelerate and leverage on-going and future water research projects, a few near term research projects and initiatives could include:
1. Enhanced Aquifer Recharge: The concepts of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) has been studied and implemented at many locations around the nation. Enhanced Aquifer Recharge is a unique application of ASR, focused around a rural landscape management approach to enhance natural infiltration process and re-purpose storm flow to ground water and base flow enhancement. The Chickasaw Nation, ECU and the City of Ada are already spearheading research in this area. The research partnership developed in this area would address a critical research need for Oklahoma and the nation, as well as providing a unique opportunity for ECU undergraduate and graduate students to collaborate, through The Oka’ Institute research activities, with future employers and world-class scientists.
2. Water Treatment Technology Testing: The race to provide technologies and methods to reclaim and reuse marginal quality waters offers a promising role for Oka’s resource mixture. Oklahoma oil and gas producers have strong incentives to recover and re-use produced waters. Additional State water resources are not utilized, or under utilized, due to water quality issues. The Oka’ Institute can serve as a water treatment technology test facility to provide third party validation for innovative water treatment methodologies and technologies. The Institute’s facilities and partnerships can provide for a wide variety of testing opportunities including in-situ applications, rural and small municipal drinking water treatment facilities and waste water systems. Technology developers maybe willing to fund Oka’ to conduct validation research and testing efforts. Research in this area would address critical water resource needs for Oklahoma.
3. Basin Scale Water Resource Assessment and Management: The Oka’ Institute will develop an understanding of the socioeconomic relationships of water usage and ecosystem function at regional and basin scale. We seek to provide data driven, best practices for water users, landowners and water providers, which will support resilient and sustainable water resource management.4. Ground Water/Surface Water Interactions: In Oklahoma, when we look at the water in the rivers and streams, for most of the time what we are seeing is not rain water but rather ground water (base flow) that discharges into the streambed. The lack of public understanding, coupled with current State water law and policies, creates a growing area of concern and potential conflict as demand for water increases with population growth and variable climate. ECU has an on-going research effort to identify the basic mechanisms and develop tools for characterization of ground water/surface water (GW/SW) interactions. In contrast to many western states, where seasonal flow is controlled by snow pack melt (California being a prime example), seasonal flows in Oklahoma are controlled by water tables (ground water elevation). Several avenues of focus are open to The Oka’ Institute in this research area.