The WSSS Practicum
The Practicum offers an opportunity for WSSS students to work in small groups on the integrated assessment of water resources case studies. The goal of the Practicum is to expose students to the techniques and processes of integrated water resource managment in order to train them as researchers and professionals. Participation in a practicum is a requirement of the WSSS P track.
Read about WSSS practica from past years:
In 2015, the students enrolled in the P track chose between one of three Practicum project sites: the nearby Malden River, the not-so-far Cape Cod, and the far-away South Andros Island of the Bahamas.
South Andros Practicum: South Andros High School
Engineering and Education for a Food Independent Bahamas
The Island of South Andros, Bahamas, glows with sunshine, ocean breeze, and breath-takingly blue water. However, while fresh fish abound, South Andros, a limestone outcrop in the Atlantic, has little soil to speak of. Furthermore, all of its freshwater comes from the limited rain that falls on the island and percolates into the thin lens of non-saline groundwater. For these reasons, South Andros has limited ability to produce vegetable products and relies heavily on the United States for imports. To address issues of food sovereignty, WSSS students continued a project started by University of Vermont students and professor (Dr. Walter Poleman) to establish an aquaponics system at the South Andros High School. The aquaponics system is a mostly-closed-loop system that uses nitrogenous wastes from live fish to fertilize plants growing in a soilless medium (hydroponics). In brief, it is a system that produces both vegetable and animal products despite poor soil and with very little water input. The project will be used to produce food for the islanders, educate the school children, and serve as a model of food independence for other islands of the Bahamas.
Malden River Practicum: Mystic River Watershed Association (MyWRA)
Public Exposure and the Impact of Restoration on Property Values
The Malden River lies within a densely-populated urban landscape. The river’s surrounding cities, Everett, Malden and Medford (total population, 160,000), are home to sizable, under-served environmental justice communities. This year's project will be undertaken in direct collaboration with one of our partners, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), but also by working closely with the Friends of the Malden group.
In 2012-2013, a group of seven graduate students from two Tufts schools laid the foundation for a long-term strategy to reimagine and recreate the Malden by turning it into an attractive urban recreation and conservation space. That Practicum team helped to bring together and energize a new citizen action group, Friends of the Malden River. Furthermore, a 2014 practicum group worked on the Malden River on issues related to public access to the river.
The 2015 Malden River Practicum Group worked on two studies related to the Malden River. One used interviews with river users to determine the exposure of the public to the River's water and sediment. Interviewees included rowers from the Tufts Crew, Malden High School, and the Gentle Giant Rowing Club, kayakers, walkers, and more. The second study used Hedonic cost analysis to estimate the property value increase that could occur with some ecological restoration of the Malden River.
Cape Cod Practicum: Falmouth and Wellfleet
The Case of Too Much Nitrogen
The bays and estuarine environments of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, receive more nitrogen than what the waters can naturally assimilate. This excess nitrogen has led to eutrophication and degraded water habitats, resulting in the loss of eel grass beds and shellfish growing areas. Nitrogen loading to Cape Codís watersheds must be reduced in order to restore ecological health.
However, making decisions about what to do and how much money to spend to address overnutrition in the water is a difficult task. As with much public decision-making processes, this challenge starts with education.
In order to educate the public about the issues that face the Cape and about technological solutions to those issues, this year's Cape Cod practicum group developed an online Green Infrastructure Guide, full of images and videos.