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Alabama Water Institute

AWI Spotlight: Prabhakar Clement, Director for the Center for Water Quality Research

A photo of Prabhakar Clement

Prabhakar Clement serves as a director for the Center for Water Quality Research, which focuses on water quality and water security affiliated with the campus Alabama Water Institute (AWI). He holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering and is a registered professional engineer. He has more than 25 years of teaching and research experience, published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and graduated more than 10 Ph.D. students. His area of research is developing engineering solutions for water quality management problems. His interest in this field stems from water being a necessity for all human life.

Clement’s current project involves the continuing study of the impacts of the 2010 BP oil spill. His goal is to develop a long-term coastal water quality and beach safety monitoring program in Alabama.

“Almost eight years later, we still see considerable amounts of oil in the form of tar balls washing up along our shoreline,” said Clement. “My team is interested in characterizing them and quantifying their long-term impacts.”

Clement’s graduate students are currently studying the interactions between groundwater and surface-water processes, as well as quantifying the impacts of both natural and anthropogenic stresses on the security of drinking water aquifers. They are also investigating the large-scale effects of climate change, sea level rise and reduced rainfall, which can rapidly result in salinization of coastal aquifers. In addition, anthropogenic contamination events such as spills from leaking pipelines, storage tanks and landfills can irreversibly contaminate large volumes of freshwater stored in subsurface aquifers. His team uses both physical and computational models to study these contamination problems.

Clement is also collaborating with UA faculty colleagues to develop cost-effective methods to improve the performance of water and wastewater treatment plants, design low-cost engineering measures to treat wastewater discharged from rural housing and develop advanced membrane-based desalinization technologies to treat saltwater. He is currently developing an advanced water quality testing laboratory, which will benefit and expand the research capabilities of AWI and its centers.