2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:35 AM


BOARDMAN, Mark R.1, WOY-HAZLETON, Sandra1, PRIMACK, Avram1 and GILLENS, Judy2, (1)Institute of Environmental Sciences, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, (2)FOCAS, Foundation of Compassionate American Samaritans, P.O. Box 428760, Cincinnati, OH 45242, boardman@muohio.edu

A research team composed of personnel from Miami University, FOCAS (Foundation of Compassionate American Samaritans) and a non-profit Haitian health organization analyzed water samples from a variety of water sources that provide water for Haitian households to provide an estimate of the safety and quality of the water for drinking purposes. The location of the study was the environs of Petionville (near the capital of Port-au-Prince), and specific sites were determined by the Haitian health agents. Most households we visited got their water from springs or public distribution sites. Other households got their water from private cisterns whose water originated by rain harvesting or water delivered by trucks. Research teams were accompanied by a field nurse and a driver to the sites where people got their water and to the homes where water was used. Field tests were conducted for pH, O2, NO3-, PO4-4 , SO4-2, dissolved iron (Fe+2 and Fe+3), and sulfide (H2So, and HS- and S--). Water samples were also collected for determination of alkalinity and hardness (Ca++ and Mg++) . Bacterial populations were assessed using two membrane filtration/incubation methods (agar growth using MEI-blue and mTEC-red) and a colorimetric technique (Manja tube) provided by the National Exposure Research Lab, USEPA, Cincinnati. No water samples contained concentrations of inorganic constituents that would suggest poor water quality. However, nearly all samples (97%) had measurable quantities of Enterococci, Escherichia coli and other bacteria indicating poor water quality. This collaborative study was the primary focus of a summer field course – “Environment and Culture of Haiti.” Miami students gained an excellent professional experience, and the health agency client gained a scientifically credible assessment of water quality. Significant challenges to a successful experience are primarily the challenges of safety and access to sampling sites - challenges that can be met by the care and planning of a host client-partner.