EHS Student Evaluates “Treated” Water Quality in Haiti
The Caribbean nation of Haiti has wrestled with drinking water quality issues for some time which has in turn resulted in some of the world’s highest mortality rates attributable to diarrheal diseases. The problem is influenced primarily by the lack of access to clean drinking water. Recently, Candice (Candi) Graves, a senior in the environmental health science program at Eastern Kentucky University visited the island nation armed with resources to assess drinking water quality for the mission community that has served as her summer home the last several years. While in western Haiti, Candi was able to quantitatively assess drinking water quality using ColiPlates® from Blue Water Biosciences (Ontario, Canada)to determine the density of fecal indicator bacteria in the water, specifically E. coli. Candi studied extensively a mission-based water quality treatment system and was able to determine where deficiencies existed related to their automated chlorination system using Hach®-based methods for quantifying total and free chlorine levels. During her time in Haiti, changes in the system were made and were further evaluated. Future assessments of water quality related to the novel alternative drinking water treatment system are planned and new treatment technologies, particularly solar-powered UV disinfection with ultra-filtration are being explored in this mission-based community.
From this experience, Candi now strongly recommends that any drinking water system of traditional or alternative design in developing nations be assessed for fecal contamination before being deemed safe for people, particularly kids. Candi also strongly recommends that the water treatment operators in similar settings be given thorough training and an appreciation for the importance of good maintenance of any water system. Working with the mission in this western Haitian village has truly been a life-changing experience for Candi, who also serves EKU as a Colonel Captain for the Office of Admissions, and as an active leader of the Student Alumni Ambassadors. The faculty at EKU could not be more proud of this young, motivated senior student in the EHS program at EKU.
Published on August 19, 2014