December 8, 2017

Purdue, Rotary prepare to install water treatment systems in Dominican Republic

Group photo of faculty and students going on trip to Dominican Republic Purdue students and faculty are going to the Dominican Republic to work on a project implementing water treatment systems. Front row, left to right: Trent Jackson; Rebecca Johnson, continuing lecturer, School of Nursing; Audrey Caprio; Paige LeMaster; Natalie Donovan. Back row, left to right: Andres Valero; Tony Minich; Maggie Busse; Elise Fischer; Andrew Kanach; Jackson Bennett; Jake Hawes; Ernest R. Blatchley III, professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering; Jack Kelley, Rotary Club of Lafayette. Not pictured: Jessie Best, Autumn McElfresh-Sutton and Shannon Roberts. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download image

A group of Purdue students in partnership with the Rotary Club of Lafayette are preparing to go Wednesday (Dec. 13) to the Dominican Republic to work on a project implementing water treatment systems.

This trip marks the second stage of a three-year collaboration that began in August.

“This will be the second system to be installed,” says the system’s lead engineer, Ernest "Chip" R. Blatchley III, professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering. “The group will also make some modifications to the first system we installed, in the town of Las Canas, and meet with communities in which we plan to design, build, and implement systems in the future.”

Funding for the project comes from a grant from Rotary International. The Rotary Club of Lafayette and the Rotary Club Santiago Monumental (Santiago, Dominican Republic) obtained a grant to aid in the construction of water treatment systems for schools in three different communities in the Dominican Republic: Los Peladeros, El Mamey and La Torre. The Purdue team will work with the Rotary clubs to design, build, and implement these systems over a period of three years.

The treatment systems have been designed by faculty and students from the colleges of Engineering, Agriculture, Science and Health and Human Sciences. The systems will collect water from the schools’ rooftops and purify it through the use of multiple barriers. In addition, communities will receive public health education, form a local leadership group and develop a business model.

“It is one of those win-win situations,” says Jack Kelley of the Rotary Club of Lafayette. “The students develop and research with hands-on experience constructing the systems, and the villages get clean water in an efficient, cheap and sustainable system and the children are healthier. These are the objectives of Rotary International grants.”

The construction of these sustainable water treatment systems will provide three schools with purified water to decrease waterborne illness, increase availability of sanitary water and promote healthy hygiene habits.

Writer: Kelsey Schnieders Lefever, kschnied@purdue.edu
Sources: Ernest R. Blatchley III, blatch@purdue.edu
Jack Kelley, Rotary Club of Lafayette, jack@letajack.com


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