Practicum 2012 | WSSS | Tufts University

WSSS Practica 2012

The WSSS Practicum is a chance for WSSS students to work in a small group on the integrated assessment of a water resources case study. 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. The 2012 WSSS Practica were located in the Aberjona River watershed in Massachusetts and Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. The Practica are part of the WSSS P-track (see program requirements) headed by Rusty Russell of the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department with support from other participating WSSS faculty.

2012 WSSS Practicum Reports

Targeting Stormwater Best Management Practices in the Aberjona River Watershed

WSSS 2012 Aberjona River Practicum Group at Lexington Public Works
WSSS 2012 Aberjona River Practicum Group at Lexington Public Works

Students
Glennon Beresin,
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Laura Crossley,
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Gabrielle Gareau,
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Yudan Jiang, School of Engineering
Faith Wanjiru Kuria, School of Engineering
Kathryn Olson, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Anne Sexton, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Jeff Walker, School of Engineering
Ruiruo Wu, School of Engineering
Shuo Zhao, School of Engineering

Faculty Advisors
Robert Russell, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Richard Vogel, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Aberjona River, a major tributary to the Mystic River in the metropolitan Boston area, has been detrimentally affected by widespread development of the watershed.  Suburban and urban land uses have resulted in urban non-point source pollution, sanitary and combined sewer overflows, flooding and industrial pollution.  Stormwater pollution has become a major problem, particularly of nutrients and pathogenic bacteria, affecting public health, recreational access, and support for aquatic ecosystems. A collaborative effort between federal, state and local government agencies and non-government organizations are working to lessen and hopefully eliminate these problems.

The 2012 WSSS Practicum was designed to assist in the effort to help municipalities reduce stormwater pollution in the watershed.  A team of ten interdisciplinary graduate students and two faculty advisors worked in collaboration with Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and the towns of Winchester, Woburn, Reading, and Burlington to identify a set of priority sub-basins within each of the participating municipalities.  These sub-basins were chosen as sites in which to implement stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that adhere to the principles of low impact development (LID) to reduce phosphorous loads.  Priority sub-basins were identified through a novel Geographic Information System (GIS)-based methodology that included identifying sub-basins based on topography and stormwater pipe networks, estimating phosphorous loads from each sub-basin, and evaluating feasibility of installing infiltration-based BMPs.  The results of this analysis were presented to MyRWA, Bioengineering Group, and the four municipalities to identify specific locations for further on-site investigation.  Each community will only implement one stormwater BMP; however, the methodology and knowledge garnered from the study will be useful as a basis for future improvement in these communities and others.

In addition to identifying specific sub-basins, the group sought to determine public perception through a survey designed to elucidate the social aspects of stormwater management and education.  They found that in general residents of these communities value clean water, open space, and protection of property from flooding.  The survey also suggested that a number of misconceptions and knowledge gaps regarding the sources and impacts of stormwater exist.

Lastly, by combining the results of the GIS analysis, the public perception survey, and interviews with municipal engineers, planners and conservation agents, the group generated a user-friendly infographic decision support guide to assist municipalities in continued implementation of stormwater BMPs.



Democratizing Water: Engaging Youth and Women in Improving Water Systems in the West Bank

2012 WSSS Palestine Practicum group in Jerusalem
2012 WSSS Palestine Practicum group in Jerusalem

Students
Franklin Crump, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Stephanie Galaitsis, School of Engineering
Elliot Hohn, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Margaret Holmes, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Kate McMahon, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Jessica Morrison,
School of Engineering
Adam Weinberg, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Advisors
Amahl Bishara, Department of Anthropology
Annette T. Huber-Lee, Independent Scholar and Senior Advisor, Stockholm Environment Institute
John Durant, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Robert Russell, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

The dearth of water in the West Bank of Israel means that many people rely on water from multiple sources of questionable quality, resulting in problems with water-borne illnesses.  Although refugees are supposed to be under UN care, the City of Bethlehem is providing water to Aida Refugee Camp.  Unfortunately there are numerous problems with the existing system.  Water is delivered sporadically to the camp, particularly during drought periods.  Furthermore, there are issues with existing water and sewer infrastructure and water storage techniques. 

A group of seven interdisciplinary graduate students and three faculty advisors went for one week in mid-May 2012 to the Aida Camp with the goal of better defining the problem and establishing a way to remedy the water related issues.  During their stay they conducted 75 water quality tests and 29 public health surveys. The health surveys were designed to assess possible connections between community health and drinking water quality, determine common practices for water storage and treatment, and elicit perceptions about the agencies responsible for addressing water quality and quantity concerns in the camp.  The week culminated with a community meeting to present and discuss the results obtained thus far.  Additionally, they worked with the Lajee Center, a local community based organization, to set up a water quality testing program to extend 12 months until May 2013.  They trained the Lajee Center staff as well as a dozen women and youth in sampling and analysis procedures, provided Lajee with water sampling supplies and laboratory equipment, and raised funds to employ a coordinator for the program.

The group found that Aida faces widespread bacterial contamination of household water supplies.  The World Health Organization standard for coliform detection using the technique applied in Aida is zero colonies, however at least one total coliform colony was found in 47% of taps tested (35 out of 75) and E. coli in 13% (10 out of 75).  Through surveys, they found that illness is common in the camp – 66% of the 29 households surveyed reported at least one member of the home had been ill in the past two weeks.  Although residents are aware that poor water quality can cause illness, 86% of those surveyed reported not treating water before drinking it.  And residents generally believe (>75%) that the color, smell, and taste of their household water is of acceptable quality.  Illness is mostly attributed to non-water related causes.  The group found that responsibility for water quality in Aida is spread across several agencies.  This, in combination with the lack of consensus about the cause of contamination, has led to a lack of initiative on the part of the agencies to fix the problem or work with the community to identify changes to be made.  However, through this project, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and Palestinian Water Authority have become more engaged.  In the future they hope to replicated the program employed at Aida to other camps as well as expand the existing program to include mapping of infrastructure, testing for other contaminants, and power mapping of responsible organizations.



2012 WSSS Practicum Participants

Glennon Beresin

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Agriculture, Food and the Environment Program

School of Medicine
Public Health Program

Laura Crossley

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Franklin Crump

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Stephanie Galaitsis

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Gabrielle Gareau

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Elliot Hohn

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Agriculture, Food and the Environment Program

Margaret Holmes

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Agriculture, Food and the Environment Program

Yudan Jiang

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faith Wanjiru Kuria

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kate McMahon

Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Agriculture, Food and the Environment Program

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Jessica Morrison

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kathryn Olson

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Anne Sexton

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Jeff Walker

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Adam Weinberg

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Ruiruo Wu

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Shuo Zhao

School of Engineering
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Past Practicums

2012 Practicum

2011 Practicum

2010 Practicum

2009 Practicum

2008 Practicum




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The Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) program is a graduate research and education program that provides Tufts students with interdisciplinary perspectives and tools to manage water-related problems around the world.

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