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Water Management

Water for the Future: CONSERVE and Water Reuse in Agriculture

Rachel Goldstein, Masoud Negahban-Azar, and Dr. Shirley Micallef

Monday, May 20
International Room
11:15 AM

About the Session

Water reuse will be a part of our water future. Ongoing climate variability and growing water demand continue to place severe stress on high-quality agricultural irrigation water sources such as groundwater. As a result, the exploration of alternative irrigation water sources (e.g. recycled water, return flows, brackish water) has become a national priority with regard to agricultural water security and the sustainable production of our food supply. Successful implementation of water reuse strategies will depend not only on scientific advances in technology to assure the safety of recycled water, but also on acceptance and support from growers, consumers, and regulatory agencies. This panel will bring together speakers from CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food, and Health funded by USDA. CONSERVE’s mission is to facilitate the adoption of transformative on‐farm treatment solutions that enable the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water (such as recycled water) on food crops. The panel will describe a complex picture of recycled water as a growing irrigation water source for food crops. Talks in this panel will focus on: (1) the potential public health impacts of reusing water on food crops that are eaten raw; (2) identification, location, and classification of alternative water sources; (3) growers' knowledge and concerns regarding alternative water source use for irrigation and a discussion of some relevant laws and legal issues on water reuse in food production.


About the Presenters

Rachel Goldstein

Dr. Rachel Rosenberg Goldstein is an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maryland with a joint appointment in the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and the School of Public Health. Dr. Goldstein is the co-project director for the Extension Activity within CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food, and Health. Dr. Goldstein specializes in environmental health focusing on environmental microbiology and environmental communication. She received a PhD in Toxicology and Environmental Health and an MPH in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Maryland, as well as a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to completing her graduate degrees, Dr. Goldstein worked as an Environmental Communications Specialist consulting with the US EPA to provide communications and data management for voluntary partnership programs. 

Masoud Negahban-Azar

Dr. Masoud Negahban-Azar is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on developing frameworks for planning, designing, and managing water and environmental systems and evaluating their performance. By using laboratory-scale experiments, field- scale demonstrations, and analytic model-oriented frameworks, his research group aims at providing decision-makers with the tools they need to secure the resilience and sustainability of water systems. Prior to joining UMD, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at Harvard University. He has earned his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Colorado State University in 2012.

Dr. Shirley Micallef 


Shirley A. Micallef is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA) and CFS3 at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, U.S. She conducts research related to specialty crops, with an emphasis on the microbial ecology of the crop agricultural environment, environmental reservoirs of enteric pathogens, impact of cropping practices on enteric pathogen dispersal and survival, microbiomes of fruit and vegetables, and Salmonella interactions with plants. She has been awarded several federal and state-supported grants for her innovative research in fruit and vegetable food safety, has published more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and has organized symposia and delivered several talks on human pathogen-plant interactions. She currently sits on the Editorial Board of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Journal of Food Protection. She also teaches courses related to food safety and agricultural microbiology at the University of Maryland.Dr. Shirley Micallef is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland and is the co-project director for CONSERVE’s research team. Her research focuses on microbial food safety of fruits and vegetables, specifically looking at how human pathogens associate with specialty crops and how they interact with the environment. In our lab, we investigate microbial produce safety at all levels of biology, from the molecular responses of pathogen-commodity pairs, to the ecology of enteric pathogens in the agro-environment.  We use a multidisciplinary approach and utilize a variety of methods to assess enteric pathogen populations and their ecology, as well as molecular and sequencing technologies to evaluate the plant microbiome and pathogen-plant responses.