Monday, November 16, 2009

Student Water Use Knowledge?

This semester has been extremely busy!!!! As previously outlined, I am working on two projects- one relating to the Dominican Republic and one relating to renewable energy sources. A third project however has stemmed from my Dominican Republic research. While in Human Dimensions of Wildlife in the College of Natural Resources, I have completed a survey project on water use throughout campus. This ties to graduate student Tammy's work on student water consumption very well. This week I am compiling my results from this study. Then I am going to finish my report on renewable energy and finally, I will collect and organize all of my information on the Dominican Republic project. I cannot believe this semester is almost over. Also this week, Heather and I both applied for the ACC Research Grant. Hopefully both of us will be funded for our work next semester. My proposal detailed a second trip to the Dominican Republic- but this time to the northern coast, instead of the eastern coast. This will add a new element to my DR project. I love research and I hope this project gets funded!!! I think about the importance of water resources every day and I am so happy to be working in the field of water resource research!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Potential for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems

This past Friday I toured the Blacksburg VPI Sanitation Authority. It was very interesting to actually see how the wastewater is treated before returning to the New River.

As of now, Blacksburg's water is pumped through various pipes to the main sewage pipe, located beneath the Drillfield, and then by gravity is transported to the plant where water is treated. Water goes through primary and secondary treatment. The secondary treatment uses microorganisms to further cleanse the water through processes including nitrification/ denitrification. Activated sludge is then separated from the water and the clear liquid is sent to the chlorine tanks before being discharged into the New River. While other plants choose to rid of their sludge by re-applying it to land for purposes such as fertilzation, the Blacksburg VPI Sanitation Authority chooses to incinerate their sludge.

The tour was the beginning of my new project where I will be looking at the differences in energy use between centralized waste water treatment versus decentralized waste water treatment and applying it to a local neighborhood/area. New developments, especially ones that are isolated from the city or area where a centralized system is applied, have potential to use decentralized systems.

If an isolated neighborhood uses a decentralized system, how much energy can be saved? If wastewater can be treated on site and be recycled/reused in the vicinity rather than traveling to a facility to be treated and placed back into a water much energy will be saved and is it a significant amount?

The local area I will be looking at is Tom's Creek Village, which serves as a good area because its relatively isolated.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wave goodbye to energy problems?

Could wave and tidal energy be efficient means of generating electricity? Could this coastal resource then power the extremely energy intensive desalination process? My research project this semester is exploring the current literature on these new technologies and applying this information to the potential for use in desalination. Since my project this summer, coastal watersheds have become more and more interesting. Saltwater intrusion is already causing many coastal areas (including Virginia) to turn to desalination as a means for providing fresh water to the growing populations. While renewable energy technologies continue to advance and become more efficient, ideas such as wave and tidal energy have not been explored in terms of environmental impact and sustainability. I will post more information as I collect it but I am extremely eager to determine if these new energies could provide enough electricity for the inevitable increase in desalination water treatment plants.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Tomorrow I will have a poster in the OUTREACH NOW conference at the Virginia Tech Inn. Please feel free to come by and view my poster throughout the day. I will be "staffing" my poster in the afternoon between 3 and 5. The poster is on service learning through international outreach in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. The poster details two different areas of outreach. One is the study abroad class in the Dominican Republic taught by Dr. Younos. I have been the TA for this class for the past two years. The other project is the honors students project in Honduras called Ut Prosim, El Porvenir. I was a leader in this project throughout the past year. International relations and service learning have always been passions of mine. I am extremely pleased to be participating in this conference tomorrow! Come join in on the fun!

Veron, Dominican Republic

Here are pictures from Veron, Dominican Republic. Many households have water tanks on rooftops and much of the piping includes small, unburied, PCV piping. While in Veron, I not only took water samples to evaluate water quality, but I talked with several local people about water perception and water education. I found that while many people buy bottled water to drink, they still use untreated water for cooking and bathing. Often, the bottled drinking water is only preferred because it is cold when purchased at the store or colmada. When collecting samples, everyone was extremely nice and very willing to provide us with water. The trip was a success and I plan on returning one more time over winter break to collect data for my thesis project. Now however, I am working on my semester long research project on water and energy. I will be studying the possibility for coastal renewable energy to supplement energy needs for water treatment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New school year- new projects

Unfortunately, Tiffany and Stephanie are no longer working in the VWRRC because they were only here for the NSF REU summer program. In good news however, the new school year brings new projects! Check out the press release about the summer program we participated in.

This school year, myself and two other undergraduates will continue to work for the Virginia Water Resources Research Center. I will have two main focuses this semester. The first project I would like to complete is one based on looking into desalination and energy use on the coast of Virginia. I am extremely interested in coastal ecosystems and the problems that arise relating to water resources in these areas. The second project will be my honors thesis project and it will relate to water use and water quality in the Dominican Republic. While I haven't completed my thesis proposal yet, the project will be a comparison of water use and water quality between tourist areas and local, non tourist areas. I am actually in the Dominican Republic as we speak and I will post plenty of pictures when I return to Blacksburg next week!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Final Touch Ups

Today has been a busy day!! Tomorrow, as Caitlyn said, are our final presentations and the time to hand in our final reports that we've been preparing all summer.  It's sad to say goodbye to Virginia Tech, but its been a fun  summer and a great experience!  Many of the watershed REUers will be attending Steppin' Out tomorrow.  I'll even be working the table on Saturday morning spreading knowledge about watershed quality and Stroubles Creek!!  Thanks NSF and VWRRC for making this summer possible!