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Dordt College News

Water Project projects shared with campus, community

November 15, 2012

November 13 marked the end of a semester-long interdisciplinary project in which Dordt College students proposed innovative solutions to water problems around the world. Globally, nearly 900 million people lack sustainable access to safe drinking water, so 122 four-person groups were asked to suggest creative, feasible, and well-argued solutions. Each team gave a poster presentation, and two sets of winners were announced based on voting by students and voting by faulty, staff, and community members.

Students gave first place to the proposal of Group 73, consisting of Dordt students Amanda Succop, Brittany Van Otterloo, Katie Nucaro, and Lee Veldkamp. The team focused on water supply in Brazil, where many do not have access to sanitary, safe, and sustainable water, even though the supply is adequate. Brazil does not have an adequate infrastructure for water transportation.

“Since there is a great amount of rainfall in Brazil, we propose that the people of Sao Paulo use rainwater collection systems to provide a more local source of safe and sanitary water,” the students said. They argued that a 1000-gallon storage tank, using the roof of the family dwelling for water collection, would be sufficient to provide 10 liters of water per day, enough for a family of four, year round in years with typical rainfall.

Students’ second choice was Group 109, made up of Travis Van Roekel, Jacob Faber, Ashley Jones, and Cady Millage. This team proposed solutions for villages and cities along the Sibiti River in Tanzania, where contamination of local groundwater sources by hard metals is causing rampant illness and death. The group proposes a multi-faceted solution, including education and distribution of inexpensive, long-lasting filters, combined with a long-term relational mission strategy.

Faculty, staff, and community members gave first place to Group 102 consisting of Dordt students Tyler Hoover, Kendall Stroeh, Katie Timmerman, and Anna Vanden Akker—who also placed third in student voting. Their project titled “Buy Blue,” a water usage awareness program for the United States and other “first-world” countries, argued for a corporate initiative to encourage companies to maintain stewardly water consumption practices by voluntarily pledging to label their water footprint on their products and by lowering their water usage. A “seal of approval” on qualifying products would indicate how well the company has reduced their water footprint relative to similar companies in their market.

Group 95, consisting of Nathan Rider, Kyra Tolkamp, Bethany Hulst, and Selena Rinehart proposed a strategy that develops mission teams trained at an existing organization, Waterstep, whose mission is to provide training and technology to heal a thirsty world. Their presentation focused on water problems in the country of Uganda, using a car-battery powered chlorine filter and a health education program implemented by the mission teams.

The winning groups were given a small cash award, and all student participants were commended for their hard work during the semester. The student groups are now evaluating the 122 ideas and preparing a final report in which they argue for investment in particular solutions by funding agencies.

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