Message from the Director - Robert Doyle, Ph.D.
I am excited about CRASR and believe that it will be a major benefit to Baylor, the City of Waco and water science generally. I am delighted and humbled by the responsibilities of directing the Center during these formative years. But one thing must never be forgotten. In the end, CRASR is about people- outstanding scientists and students doing excellent research and making a positive difference in the environment and in the lives of our neighbors.
What is CRASR?
The Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research (CRASR) is a research and education partnership between Baylor University and the City of Waco focused on aquatic resources. This Center is a natural outflow of many years of collaboration between these institutions as over the years Baylor and the City have each developed significant water-related expertise and capabilities. At Baylor, the focus for almost four decades has been on understanding the basic scientific principles that control the structure and function of aquatic environments. The City has dealt primarily with applied management issues. While we will continue to develop some of our water research and management activities independently, we believe that CRASR will provide synergistic benefits to both institutions and will stimulate much needed inter and multidisciplinary research.
The content on this site is a collaborative effort between individuals from Baylor and the City of Waco. Photographs on this site are used with the permission of Baylor Photography.
Why do we need CRASR?
Recently, NASA launched several missions to Mars to confirm evidence that water has existed on that planet and may now be stored as ice within the soil. Why? Simple- water is life. Life, as we know it, cannot exist without water. Civilizations have flourished where abundant, high quality fresh water was available.
Although North America has abundant water resources, these are unequally distributed in space and time, and concerns are growing about the long term supply of water to support economic development in many parts of the continent. In arid regions of the world, such as the Southwestern US, water availability will be the significant factor determining future growth, economic prosperity, and quality of life. Many areas are already experiencing water shortages as population growth exceeds supplies.
While water quantity is fundamental, the quality of the water is also of major importance. Discharge of waste water from industry, mining, agriculture and households have been regulated in the United States for decades. Although reduced, it has not been eliminated. Unregulated, these same wastes threaten life and life quality across the developing world.
Water pollution comes in many forms. The over-enrichment of surface water with "natural" pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus stimulates excessive algal growth and favors undesirable species. Some of these species produce toxic chemicals while others produce taste and odor problems, such as those that have become common in Lake Waco. Water-borne diseases like cholera have plagued humanity for millennia, and continue to be major health issues today. Now, other waterborne pollutants -- pesticides, heavy metals, and even pharmaceuticals-- may present consequences for environmental and human health, including a higher risk for breast cancer.
Clearly, protection and prudent management of water resources is essential for sustaining economic viability and ecological health. Furthermore, there is general agreement that the study of the underlying factors governing the sustainable use of water resources must draw from many disciplines, including biology, geology, chemistry, physics and toxicology. Previously, the most common approach to water research compartmentalized efforts into single departments with a narrow focus of study. This fragmented tactic, however, is poorly suited to address complex interactions among the living and non-living components of the aquatic ecosystem. The limitations of a piecemeal approach are now fully recognized. Yet, while inter- and multidisciplinary research are routinely praised, they are too rarely practiced.