Tagged: water
UEP Student Jessica Norriss Reflects on WSSS in Palestine
| May 17, 2016 | 10:37 am | WSSS | No comments

As a member of the Water Systems, Science, and Society program, students are required to work alongside a client, local or international, for the duration of a semester. In the fall of 2015, various projects were being proposed, one of which was the opportunity to work with the Boston based non-profit 1for3 in partnership with the Palestinian based community center, the Lajee Center. This not only included a close working relationship with our clients, but the chance to travel and implement our work in Palestine!

Without much of an attachment to Boston, I thought this would be a powerful experience to expand my international repertoire. Up until this point, my only connection with this region was the reoccurring insight that I should go on birthright, but growing up in Texas I was fairly isolated from my Jewish side of the family. The border conflicts between Israel and Palestine were quite muted in respect to the more relevant and pressing disputes with our own southern neighbors. The idea of traveling to Israel seemed more like a distant fantasy, a connection to an abstract and vague ancestry that I for some reason felt I inherently needed to get to know.

The primary goal was to aid in the human right to the access of clean water; despite my lack of knowledge to the nuances of this phrase in the Israeli-Palestinian context, I was eager to have an opportunity to work in this region with a direct purpose. Throughout the first few weeks of getting familiar with this project, our objectives and plan of action were still relatively vague. Although, 1for3 and WSSS students had worked together in the past (2012, 2013, and 2014) assessing the water quality challenges in the Aida Refugee camp of Bethlehem, this year we were looking to expand beyond the previous legacy. We would travel to Palestine to engage with a neighboring refugee camp, al Azza, and evaluate their unique set of water quality issues. Through household surveys and water sample collections, we were to analyze the degree of water health and security to the camp, and to provide our client’s with a strategy for expanding their water quality treatment and conservation programs.

While there, we successfully completed over thirty surveys with a wide range of households in the camp, met with several local stakeholders from the Palestinian Water Authority to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and held a community meeting to share our findings from our weeks work. One of the most memorable parts of the experience is the mutually beneficial relationship we were able to establish with our translators, as they shared some of their personal histories and expertise, and we shared our knowledge of water quality sampling.

Now, barely one month after our week spent there, I am still processing our experiences. Despite many conversations and readings about the rich and complex history of Israeli-Palestinian relationships, this trip illuminated the complexity of the conflict that weigh heavy in the region. Fortunately, in al Azza we did not encounter any significant levels of harmful bacteria in the tap water of the homes that we tested, but rather residents communicated they were plagued with significant water insecurity and shortages throughout the dry season.

This trip has taught me the proper scientific techniques for testing the levels of residual chlorine and quality of water in relation to total coliform and fecal bacteria, as well as better prepared me for working directly with a client in a multi-cultural professional context to strategically expand their long-term goals.

But ultimately, this trip has ignited a passion for further exploring the nexus of diplomacy, conflict mediation, and powerful role that water rights hold in this intricate dance. We now have the technologies and capacity to merge rigorous scientific analysis of water quality and allocation systems with political advocacy and leadership in innovative ways; I am excited for a future which addresses this unique set of challenges communities globally are facing.

On Water: Visualizing the California Drought from Space
| March 16, 2015 | 2:17 pm | Events | Comments closed

Last Wednesday, Tufts Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences was visited by UC Irvine professor and NASA water scientist Jay Famiglietti. His talk, titled “Observing the Epic California Drought and Groundwater Depletion from Space” was based on articles “The Global Groundwater Crisis” and “Satellites Measure Recent Rates of Groundwater Depletion in California’s Central Valley.”

Famiglietti began with a timeline of the California Drought, beginning with January 2014’s declaration of of a drought emergency. This was followed by a series of cuts in surface water allocation. Despite efforts, groundwater levels have continue to drop. Governor Brown’s continued attempts to mitigate the situation led to his freeing up drought relief funds and the signing of historic groundwater management legislation.

On the technical side, Famiglietti outlined the methods and instrumentation for his analysis. NASA’s Gravity Recovery Climate Experiment (GRACE) was launched in 2002 as a “scale in the sky” to weigh monthly changes in groundwater storage around the globe. Since water is much heavier than most other earth components, and its local mass fluctuates more drastically than other geological features, GRACE satellites are able to accurately measure these fluctuations in an areas gravitational field. Subtracting known or estimated changes in surface water, snow and soil moisture, scientists can quantify changes in groundwater level over time.

California’s position as a highly productive agricultural region makes this an important research area with international implications, but Famiglietti’s work isn’t limited to that geographic area. The Middle East, North China, the rest of the American Southwest, and other areas are sharing similar experiences. He notes that parts of northwestern India are experiencing the greatest rate of groundwater depletion in the world. With 33% of total water use and half of all agricultural use worldwide coming from groundwater sources, predictions of continued drought mean that action must be taken to better manage our water resources.

Mona Funiciello ’11: Urban Water Planning in China and India
| June 9, 2011 | 12:00 am | student papers | Comments closed

Mona Funiciello ’11 wrote this report for professor Weiping Wu’s new class on International Planning and Urban Policy. The class covers a broad range of topics, offering a comparative analysis of planning practices and urban policies in both developing and industrialized countries around the world. This paper addresses issues and solutions in planning for water security in the cities of China and India. For more water-related areas at UEP, you can also check out the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) certificate program.

Weiping recently joined the department and brings expertise in migration and urban dynamics in developing countries, especially China. Weiping will be teaching the Foundations class this fall, required for all first-year students.