Four Corners Energy & Water Innovation Student Symposium

San Juan College School of Energy | April 6, 2023


Through I-WEST workshops, seminars, and listening sessions, we learned that water is a critical factor in regional energy transition planning. While energy-water systems are interdependent at all scales, from global to regional, communities within the Intermountain West are faced with unique challenges and opportunities. Water scarcity is an ongoing concern, especially in the face of prolonged drought, infrastructure needs, and increasing temperatures; meanwhile, with advances in water treatment technologies, there is high potential to utilize produced water for energy production and other industrial use cases. The Four Corners Energy & Water Innovation Student Symposium marked an important step toward sustaining an ongoing dialog on this important topic with students, faculty, and other researchers in the region.

The US Department of Energy and US Department of the Interior were the driving forces behind the student symposium. Both agencies are committed to partnering across the federal government to develop integrated solutions to energy-water challenges through a new initiative called the Nexus of Energy and Water Sustainability (NEWS). They are also interested in collaboration at the regional level, which is what made the symposium especially exciting. The Four Corners is home to colleges and universities on the leading edge of energy and water innovation, and the symposium shined a spotlight on students, faculty, and local industry working to solve regional challenges.

The action-packed agenda featured distinguished representatives from the Navajo Nation, the White House, the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of the Interior; keynote messages from top-notch regional experts on water and energy; exciting presentations on local projects and initiatives; a poster session on projects led by students, faculty, and other scientists from the national laboratories; and a panel discussion in which students asked thought-provoking questions. Materials from the symposium are provided in the links below.

I-WEST is grateful to the 115+ participants who attended the symposium, particularly the outstanding students and faculty from Diné College, Navajo Technical University, and San Juan College. Thanks for making it such an impactful event!  

Speaker Slides

Regional Desalination Initiatives
Mike Hightower, Program Director, NM Produced Water Research Consortium

Restóre: Navajo Nation Water Purification Project
Dr. Abhishek RoyChowdhury, Assistant Professor, Navajo Technical University

Deep Aquifers of the Four Corners Region
Dr. Katie Zemlick, Hydrology Bureau Chief, NM Office of the State Engineer

Panelist Flash Talk Slides

Four Corners Energy & Water Innovation Student Symposium
Mike Rinker, DOE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Outlook for Hydrogen in San Juan County
John Byrom, PESCO

Role of Produced Water in Regional Energy Production
Mike Hightower, New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium

Critical Minerals and Mining
Tanya Gallegos, USGS Mineral Resources Program

Regional Ground and Surface Water Availability
John Leeper, WSP

Cross-cutting Priorities for Tribal Communities
Crystal Tulley-Cordova, Navajo Nation

Event Photos

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