The IRES students will work collaboratively with UCC faculty and students to examine the effects of onsite sanitation and saltwater intrusion on groundwater quality. The team will also collaborate with teachers and their students at a local high school on citizen science activities. Project activities are designed such that there is continuity between one cohort’s work and the next, offering students a great perspective on teamwork and collaborative research. The project will address three major themes:
- Effects of onsite sanitation on groundwater quality: To explore the vulnerability of shallow groundwater to onsite sanitation, student participants will conduct both field evaluations and laboratory analyses of groundwater samples for specific chemical and microbial contaminants. They will evaluate existing sanitation infrastructure (e.g., size of septic system & number of users per household), calculate septic system densities, collect GPS coordinates of wells and septic systems, perform soil tests, and assess other pertinent factors to help characterize and attribute sources of vulnerability.
- Effects of sea level rise on groundwater quality: Although evidence of saltwater intrusion into wells has been reported for some of the communities closest to the coastline, it is not clear how far inland the saltwater has encroached. The US students will work collaboratively with their UCC partners, to determine the spatial extent of saltwater intrusion in the area. They will conduct in-situ measurements of wells for salinity/conductivity/TDS, test water samples in the laboratory, and perform spatial statistical analyses on their results.
- Education: An important component of this project is a proposed annual water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) Fair. The different cohorts of US students will collaborate with their local partners, mentors, and local high school (HS) students (and their teachers) to implement a WASH fair, which will become an annual event providing WASH advisory services to the local communities beyond the life of this project. The project also has another outreach component where the US students will engage with community members for knowledge sharing. They will collaborate with Ghanaian HS teachers to develop a local program for HS students to continue routine well water monitoring into the future.
- Supplementary Materials on Onsite sanitation
- Supplementary Materials on sea level rise and saltwater intrusion
- Supplementary Materials on Citizen Science