Water Distribution Improvements
Brae Head, Clarendon Parrish, Jamaica
I'm currently serving as the Responsible Engineer in Charge and the lead technical mentor for the Jamaica Program of the Engineers without Borders chapter at Georgia Tech. The Jamaica Program will consist of a series of civil infrastructure projects to improve the lives of the households living in the community of Brae Head in Clarendon Parrish, Jamaica. The first project in the program will consist of water distribution improvements to be completed in three phases. The first phase will consist of improvements to the spring catchment. The second phase will be the construction of a new transmission main to convey water from the spring to the town. The third and final phase will be the construction of a concrete storage tank to serve the community. The project is being designed and implemented by Georgia Tech students in cooperation with the Brae Head Foundation.
Changes in water quality associated with a transition to continuous supply
Globally just over 900 million people are currently provided municipal drinking water by an intermittent water supply (IWS). An IWS is subject to increased contamination of drinking water during distribution and increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness among its users. The city of Nagpur in Maharashtra state of India is preparing to transition its municipal water supply, which serves 2.5 million people, from intermittent to continuous water delivery. I will be using a stepped wedge design to isolate and quantify the water quality changes that occur as continuous water supply is implemented in supply zones throughout the city. Primary outcome measurements are heterotrophic plate count, total coliforms, and E. coli. Secondary outcome measurements are turbidity, total chlorine, and free chlorine. Tertiary outcome measurements are the prevalence and quantity of a set of waterborne pathogens as measured using dead-end ultrafiltration followed by droplet digital PCR. This work is partially funded by a Fulbright-Nehru research fellowship and performed in collaboration with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
Risks of waterbone disease attributable to small rural water supplies
Small or very small water supplies account for almost 90% of all non-compliance with drinking water regulations. A recent cross-sectional study of water quality, water supply characteristics, and human health outcomes was one of the first non-outbreak assessments of water quality and health risks associated with rural water supplies in the Black Belt, an underserved area of Alabama. The study found that intermittent service, low water pressure, displeasing taste and odors, and absence of free and total chlorine were associated with 3 to 5 times greater occurrence of gastrointestinal illness. During this study, researchers collected 100 liter water samples from 12 rural water supplies in 10 locations at 3 time points. They filtered these samples using a technique called dead-end ultrafiltration to capture any microogranisms that were present in the drinking water. I will now test the concentrated filter retentate for the presence and quantity of several waterborne pathogens using droplet digital PCR. The waterborne pathogen prevalence and quantities from this testing will be used as input in quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) models to estimate the risk of waterborne disease and diarrheal burden of disease associated with small rural water supplies in the United States. This work is funded by the EPA through the Science to Achiever Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship.