SALT LAKE CITY — The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $20 million competitive grant to a group of Utah universities and organizations, the Governor's Office announced Friday.

The grants will fund a statewide effort to build the human and research infrastructure to sustainably manage Utah's waters. The award went into effect on July 1, creating innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-Sustainability (iUTAH), an effort of researchers from Utah State University, the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and two dozen other Utah-based partners.

“Utah is faring better than most states due in part to unprecedented partnerships in all aspects of our economy,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a prepared statement. “This public-private collaboration among so many educational, industry and government partners in tackling a key factor in long-term economic growth and quality of life is another example of our state’s can-do approach.”

The interdisciplinary effort will strategically invest in projects aimed at monitoring and improving state water usage, while informing Utah residents of sustainable practices, and educating future water scientists and managers. The program also will promote long-term collaboration among Utah institutions and provide interdisciplinary research opportunities to students and faculty from kindergarten through postgraduate school.