Heather Rose is currently a Program Specialist in the Water Science & Conservation Office at the Texas Water Development Board.
Heather is a graduate of the Energy and Earth Resources Master’s Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an alumnus of the Webber Energy Group. Her research focus was in energy for water treatment and sustainability. Her research projects included energy for recycling hydroponic wastewater, energy for off-grid treatment and delivery of harvested rainwater, and development of rooftop gardens.
Heather was formerly a Water Conservation Coordinator at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). At LCRA she analyzed water usage data and created models to predict future water use and water savings. She also ran pilot programs to conduct research in new water conservation methods.
Heather was the Chief Operations Officer of the Austin local nonprofit CleanTX from 2017 to 2019. With CleanTX Heather partnered with clean tech companies and thought leaders, coordinated and ran CleanTX events, managed member services and grant funding efforts.
For more information on Heather’s research and current publications, please see below.
Water Sustainability Projects
Energy Requirements for Recycling Hydroponic Wastewater
Heather’s graduate research involved analyzing the energy requirements to recycle hydroponic wastewater. Hydroponic grow systems are a highly water-efficient means of growing common fruits and vegetables (such as leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries). While these systems use significantly less water than traditional methods, there is still a wastewater by-product as the grow water needs to be flushed regularly to prevent toxic salt build up and algae growth. This wastewater is unique in that it’s relatively clean, and all added components to the water are known. For this research Heather investigated the energy and cost requirements to treat this hydroponic wastewater onsite for reuse in the system.
Heather’s graduate thesis can be downloaded for free on the UT Library website. See link below:
Energy for Delivery and Treatment of Harvested Rainwater
The goal of this analysis was to evaluate energy and cost requirements for different configurations of a rainwater harvesting (RWH) system in conjunction with a solar PV and energy storage system for an off-grid house. Using models in fluid mechanics, Heather and her colleague Dr. Charles Upshaw evaluated energy and power requirements for four different system configurations: 1. An On-Demand System containing a single speed pump (OD-SS), 2. An On-Demand System containing a variable speed pump (OD-VS), 3. A Pressurized Storage System where water is pumped once during the day into a large pressurized tank for later consumption and treated on demand via UV light (PS-AOT), and 4. A Pressurized Storage System where water is treated once per day via UV light and then stored for later consumption (PS-TO). The analysis showed that the OD-SS system model requires 2.63 kWh per day, the OD-VS system model requires a total energy of 1.65 kWh per day, and the PS-AOT requires 1.67–1.69 kWh per day depending on the pump size, and the PS-TO system requires 0.19–0.36 kWh per day depending on the pump size. When comparing estimated cost between systems, the team found the OD-SS system to be the most expensive. With the OD-SS system as a base for system costs, the team found the OD-VS system to be 39% less expensive, the PS-AOT system to be 21% less expensive, and the PS-TO system to be 60% less expensive than the base OD-SS system.
In August 2017 Heather was awarded a Green Free Grant from the University of Texas at Austin to conduct an experiment regrowing food from scrap hydroponically. Hydroponic systems are known to be extremely water efficient compared to traditional farming methods. It is also known that certain foods will sprout new roots in water and will grow into a new plant. In this experiment, Heather regrew lettuce and basil from food scrap in a hydroponics raft system while measuring the water and power consumption compared to yield of crop.
Solar Water Energy And Thermal Lab (S.W.E.A.T. Lab)
The Webber Energy Group S.W.E.A.T. Lab is a lab stationed on the roof of the ETC (the Mechanical Engineering building on UT campus) that provides local weather data to the community. The SWEATLab also contains a solar powered drip irrigation system that waters a rooftop garden using harvested rainwater.
Rose, H.S. (2020). A study on the interdependency of hydroponic wastewater quality and the energy and costs for onsite treatment. Master’s Thesis University of Texas at Austin. https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/83172
Hydroponic growing methods have the potential to use less water while producing higher yields when compared to traditional soil-based agriculture. However, hydroponic wastewater is a nutrient dense effluent that can be harmful to the environment if not managed properly. Onsite treatment and reuse of hydroponic wastewater would avoid thousands of gallons a month of freshwater use while preventing this effluent from harming receiving streams. The efficacy, energy requirements and costs of some treatment methods are not well known. To assess the efficacy of select treatment methods, the contaminants in hydroponic wastewater were measured using samples of hydroponic wastewater collected from a greenhouse test facility and analyzed by an environmental laboratory. Contaminants evaluated were Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), calcium, potassium, magnesium, total phosphorus, nitrogen, and Total Organic Carbon (TOC). Wastewater samples were also treated onsite using a sand filter, a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter, and reverse osmosis (RO). Samples of wastewater treated by these methods were then re-analyzed by the environmental laboratory and post-treatment concentrations of the studied contaminants were recorded. Sand and GAC filtration were shown to be essentially ineffective for contaminant removal due to the high concentrations of metals in the hydroponic wastewater. Reverse osmosis was the most effective treatment method, removing an average of 85% TDS concentration in wastewater samples. The results from the water quality analysis showed that Reverse Osmosis was the only treatment method that effectively removed the large concentration of metal contaminants in the wastewater. For this reason, only reverse osmosis was analyzed for energy and cost requirements for onsite treatment of hydroponic wastewater. The energy requirements to treat hydroponic wastewater onsite by reverse osmosis ranged from 3 to 43 kWh per day, depending on the facility size and percent of water treated. The annualized cost of treatment ranged from $0.63 to $2.83 per thousand gallons of water treated. Finally, a cost savings from reduced water bills analysis was also performed using local water utility prices in Austin TX. Based on the assumptions made for water meter size and monthly water use, it was found that financial savings could be achieved in all facility sizes with a payback period of 7 to 24 months if facilities utilized municipal water as their water source. These results can help to determine whether recycling hydroponic wastewater is feasible within financial and energy constraints as a way to avoid discharging harmful effluent and using thousands of gallons of source water each month.
Rose, H.S.; Upshaw, C.R.; Webber, M.E. (2018). Evaluating Energy and Cost Requirements for Different Configurations of Off-Grid Rainwater Harvesting Systems. Water 2018, 10, 1024.
The goal of this analysis was to evaluate energy and cost requirements for different configurations of a rainwater harvesting (RWH) system in conjunction with a solar PV and energy storage system for an off-grid house. Using models in fluid mechanics, we evaluated energy and power requirements for four different system configurations: 1. An On-Demand System containing a single speed pump (OD-SS), 2. An On-Demand System containing a variable speed pump (OD-VS), 3. A Pressurized Storage System where water is pumped once during the day into a large pressurized tank for later consumption and treated on demand via UV light (PS-AOT), and 4. A Pressurized Storage System where water is treated once per day via UV light and then stored for later consumption (PS-TO). Our analysis showed that the OD-SS system model requires 2.63 kWh per day, the OD-VS system model requires a total energy of 1.65 kWh per day, and the PS-AOT requires 1.67–1.69 kWh per day depending on the pump size, and the PS-TO system requires 0.19–0.36 kWh per day depending on the pump size. When comparing estimated cost between systems, we found the OD-SS system to be the most expensive. With the OD-SS system as a base for system costs, we found the OD-VS system to be 39% less expensive, the PS-AOT system to be 21% less expensive, and the PS-TO system to be 60% less expensive than the base OD-SS system.
AMERICAN SOCIETY of CIVIL ENGINEERS (ASCE)
EWRI CONGRESS, CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, June 2018 Minneapolis MN
Energy and Power Efficiency and Cost Comparison of Battery vs. End-use Water Storage for Consumption as Means of Solar PV Energy Storage
A reliable potable water system is a critical component of modern living. For homeowners with off-grid houses, providing reliable potable water also requires a reliable electricity supply to run the pump(s) and treatment system. Since water consumption occurs throughout the day and night, a solar-powered off-grid system must contain some sort of energy storage to power the water system when the sun is not shining. The goal of this analysis is to evaluate the trade-offs of battery storage with the ‘end-use storage’ of pressurized treated water.
For this project, we built a simplified powered demand model of an off-grid residential rainwater harvesting system that featured onsite treatment and pressurized water delivery to the home. Using data from the 2016 Water Research Foundation study of Residential End Uses of Water, we created a program to generate hourly water usage profiles of typical household water use. The profiles serve as the templates for sizing the water delivery system based on how much treated water needs to be delivered during each hour for an average single family home. We then compared the power and energy requirements for treating and pressurizing the water using an in-line UV light treatment and on-demand pump, versus that of treating 24 hours’ worth of water using a solar powered UV light treatment and large pressurized tank for next day consumption. With our analysis, we will assess which system is more energy efficient on a round-trip basis, and the impact on power demand of treating and delivering water on-demand compared to that of stored pressurized water. This analysis will include an interactive online tool for others to compare system power and energy requirements based on their own water demand profile and other inputs.
AMERICAN SOCIETY for ENGINEERING EDUCATION GULF-SOUTHWEST SECTION (ASEE-GSW)
CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS, April 2018 Austin TX
Development of a Rooftop Collaborative Experimental Space through Experiential Learning Projects
The Solar, Water, Energy, and Thermal Laboratory (SWEAT Lab) is a rooftop experimental space at the University of Texas at Austin built by graduate and undergraduate students in the Cockrell School of Engineering. The project was funded by the Texas State Energy Conservation Office and the University’s Green Fee Grant, a competitive grant program funded by UT Austin tuition fees to support sustainability-related projects and initiatives on campus. The SWEAT Lab is an on-going experiential learning facility that enables engineering education by deploying energy and water-related projects.
This project presented many opportunities for students to learn first hand about unique engineering challenges. The lab is located a top the 9 story Engineering Teaching Center (ETC) building, so students had to design and build systems with constraints such as weight limitations, structural concerns, water containment and management, and high wind speed tolerance. Students also worked with building facilities and management to get portions of the lab constructed, as well as incorporating the building’s power and internet connection for instruments.
With the Bird’s eye view of UT Austin campus, this unique laboratory offers a new perspective and dimension to applied student research projects at UT Austin.
Projects from Graduate School
Estimated Water Savings from Requiring Soil Moisture Sensors in Irrigation Systems for Homes in HOA Districts in Cedar Park TX
Final Project for GIS Course
University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2019
Predicting Outdoor Water Usage in US Single Family Households: Approaches in Statistical Modeling
Final Project for Statistical Learning Course
University of Texas at Austin, Spring 2019
Change in Water Storage Analysis in the Wintergarden Region of Texas from 2002 to 2016
Final Project for Physical Hydrology Course
University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2018
Estimated Energy Requirements to Pump Water to an Austin Water Treatment Plant from a Recharge Zone of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer
Final Project for Geology of Earth Resources Course
University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2018
Cost Analysis of Converting Traditional Farms in the Wintergarden Region in Texas to Hydroponic Growing Facilities
Final Project for Water Resources Planning Course
University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2018
Water Savings Models
Developed for LCRA
University of Texas at Austin Green Fee Grant
Granted August 2019 for Recycling Hydroponic Wastewater Project.
Energy and Earth Resources Fellowship
Granted August 2018
University of Texas at Austin Green Fee Grant
Granted August 2017 for ReGrow Project.
Kent and Linda McCormack Scholarship in Physics
Granted December 2017
The best way to reach Heather is to send her an email at: