Richard Roettger and Ingrid Rapatz
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico | May 3, 2018
Ramey Unit School student teams (Waterbenders and Aquarico) presented on their ENSO Campaign research efforts to understand the effects Hurricane Maria had on the quality of the water in their home of Puerto Rico by using several of the GLOBE hydrology protocols. Their measurements and analysis of the measurements really told a story that came out of a devastating situation.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a nearly Category 5 storm, devastated Puerto Rico. This event, along with the malfunction of the Guajataca Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant managed by the Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillad de Puerto Rico (AAA) affected millions of people and left the island without electricity or potable water. As a result, people were forced to drink hazardous, unsafe water from rivers, rooftops, and faucets that led to bacteria-related diseases.
Hurricane Maria and its aftermath provided an opportunity for students from Ramey Unit School in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to aid their community and create an effective solution to a very serious local problem. This problem motivated and inspired students to compare the effectiveness of water filters used during the relief effort and to investigate a way to filter water using local and natural resources that are easy to acquire.
Aguarico, (Middle School, Mrs. Rapatz-Roettger) and Waterbenders, (High School,
Mr. Richard Roettger) researched the impact of bacterial contamination in drinking water and compared the effectiveness of eliminating harmful bacteria from donated water filters. In addition, Aguarico designed a distillation and filtration filter using existing materials and natural resources accessible after the storm. Water samples were collected from the Guajataca Water Shed and city water sources. They were tested for bacterial contamination using GLOBE probes and bacteria tests. Students collaborated with expert in the field, Mr. Steve Tamar, from the Surfrider Foundation to test water samples before and after they were filtered through commercial filters and the filter created by Aguarico.
Students continue to share their research to help both local and global communities. During a recent GLOBE Webinar, it was reported that 70% of Nigerians do not have access to safe drinking water. The Waterbenders started collaborating with Water Filters for Puerto Rico and two Nigerian GLOBE Schools to provide them with donated water filters.
Aguarico and Waterbenders presented their research at the GLOBE Student Research Symposium (SRS) at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte on April 19-21, 2018. Students presented and defended their research projects to student peers and a scientist panel. These teams were recognize for their research, dedication, and making an impact in their community. They were awarded with individual medals and team trophies for excellence in research and presentation.
On May 2nd, both teams presented their research at the GLOBE Short Observation & Data Analysis Webinar. Furthermore, they will continue their research at the GLOBE 2018 Learning Expedition in Killarney, Ireland this summer. This will be an opportunity to share their work and collaborate with students and scientists world-wide to gain new ideas and perspectives for future improvements.
Water quality is a global issue; especially now in Puerto Rico. Ramey School students continue to analyzing collected data, create effective prototypes, and collaborate with those in need to ensure potable water is available and safe for consumption.